I was first introduced to La Colombe coffee last year as we were preparing to open our newest Freds in our Downtown Flagship. We were seeking a very special coffee to help complete the experience there, and by reputation alone, we knew that La Colombe speaks to the same level of quality as all of our Freds offerings. Just like our locally sourced produce, fish, and meats, La Colombe uses only fresh, whole, high-quality ingredients, so it really fit within the Barneys DNA. Plus, coffee is a very social experience, just like an outing to Freds. When you go to Barneys, you can spend a full day there, whether or not you have lunch or dinner. You can meet friends for incredible coffee, and that becomes an activity in itself!
So as we began working with La Colombe, we wanted to develop an exclusive flavor experience and blend for the new restaurant. I got to sit in on a few of the tastings as Chef Mark Strausman was going through the process, and I immediately fell in love with their coffee. All the flavors were delicious, but they also have a lot of caffeine, so as I returned to the office after the tastings, I was very productive!
When the process was completed and I actually got to sit down and dine at Freds Downtown for the first time, I ordered the Pure Black, La Colombe’s iced coffee. It’s very light, very smooth, rich, and full-flavored. And because it’s cold-pressed, Pure Black does has more caffeine than standard coffee. As a mother of three kids who also has a full-time job, that’s a huge help! It’s like drinking two cups of coffee at once.
After seeing how much I enjoyed the Pure Black, the next time I was at Freds, the manager Mechel Thompson recommended that I try the Draft Latte. Little did he know that it would become my new obsession! If I thought I loved the Pure Black, it was the Draft Latte that got me hooked. It has a creamy, frothy texture that is unlike any other coffee and a sweetness that’s a bit unexpected. You don’t have to add any sweetener, milk, or anything else—it’s perfect as they serve it. What really sets the draft latte apart, and makes La Colombe as a whole so special, is the attention to the ingredients they use. The latte is made using rich whole milk, and that’s a big part of the flavor. It’s also made with a cold-pressed espresso, and the combination of those two makes for a richness and a smoothness that I’ve never tasted elsewhere.
I will admit, the Draft Latte is a bit of an indulgence for me personally, since it’s a bit caloric. I’m more of a skim milk than a whole milk drinker, but the latte is worth making an exception for. To ease my conscience a bit, though, I’ve invented my own drink, which one of the servers downtown has dubbed the Black & Caramel. I order both the Pure Black, which has only five calories, and the Draft Latte, and mix them half-and-half, using the latte as a sweetener for my iced coffee—it’s the best of both worlds! So now when I’m at Freds, I just order the Tomm Miller Black & Caramel. If Arnold Palmer can have a drink named after him, then why can’t I have one too! Maybe one day, if I ever become famous, that’s how it’ll be on the menu!
As if I didn’t love La Colombe enough already, it’s gotten even more tempting now that I don’t have to save it just for when I’m at Freds downtown. We just started carrying La Colombe and the Draft Latte at all of our Freds locations, so now I can get my signature Black & Caramel on Madison Avenue too and I’m looking forward to having it at Freds Beverly Hills when I’m out in L.A. in a few weeks. And while nothing beats the experience of sitting at a table in Freds and having your fresh Draft Latte, both it and the Pure Black are also available to go in their canned form, which is a very close second.