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Todd Carmichael's Favorite Coffee Spots

Todd Carmichael's Favorite Coffee Spots

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The host of Travel Channel’s 'Dangerous Grounds' shares his favorite coffee spots

From Ethiopia to Haiti, Todd Carmichael has traveled the world in search of the perfect cup of coffee. His passion for exploring the world and a great cup of coffee are chronicled in on Travel Channel’s new show Dangerous Grounds, which premieres Nov. 5.

Carmichael shared with The Daily Meal his favorite places for coffee, and it seems some of the best places for coffee also happen to be some of the most dangerous in the world.

While one of the coffees Carmichael enjoys the most is a medium roast coffee from a farm in Caranavi, Bolivia, which can be found after driving along a terrifying, treacherous road for hours, he also recommends some roasters closer to home.

Although he quickly admits that he enjoys his coffee the most, both at his home and at his La Colombe coffee shops in New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Seoul, he also likes to stop by Ritual Roasters in San Francisco.

For a laid-back drip coffee, Carmichael gives a nod to Brooklyn’s Stumptown Coffee. And surprisingly, one of the best coffees, according to Carmichael, can be found at Whole Foods, which stocks Allegro Coffee.

Coffee lovers who don’t want to leave home can also try Intelligentsia Coffee, which ships coffee that can be ordered over the Internet and rounds out Carmichael’s best coffee list.

Lauren Mack is the Travel Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @lmack.

If Cold Brew Coffee Is Your Caffeinated Drink of Choice, Here's What You Should Know

At last, all your cold brew questions have been answered.

It’s officially peak summer, which means endless hours of daylight plus plenty of high heat and humidity. This leaves us with one drowsier-than-normal population. Many sweaty sleepyheads (myself included) rely on one thing to bring us back to life during the summertime: iced coffee.

We’ll take ours in any form—iced or hot, fancy or not𠅋ut we also believe good coffee is worth going the extra mile for. And today, you can’t talk about high-quality cold coffee drinks without defaulting directly to cold brew.

Cold brew coffee has risen in the ranks of the most popular summer caffeine selection in the past several years. To help us understand why𠅊s well as give us an insider look at what gives cold brew its je ne sais quoi, both taste- and health-wise—we spoke with Todd Carmichael, the CEO and Co-Founder of La Colombe Coffee Roasters.

What happens to coffee when you microwave it

Unfortunately, despite how easy it is, coffee happens to be one of the many things you should never nuke. When you microwave a cup of coffee, you're changing the chemical makeup of the beverage.

Todd Carmichael, CEO and co-founder of coffee company La Colombe, didn't mince words on his feelings about microwaved coffee when talking to Tasting Table. "Coffee is a one-time use kind of deal. You make it, you drink it and if it gets cold, you make some more. Reheating reorganizes the chemical makeup of the coffee and totally ruins the flavor profile. Some things just don't work to reheat, and coffee is one of them. It's always best just to brew a fresh cup," he explained. "In dire straits, if you're absolutely out of coffee and staring at a cold pot from that morning. still don't reheat it. Drink it over ice. Trust me, it'll be better."

Making Mobile Coffee Was 2016&aposs Biggest Coffee Trend

Everyone&aposs a coffee snob in 2016. It&aposs a reality that&aposs been a long time coming, ever since the first Starbucks opened its doors in 1971 and introduced Americans to the art of Italian espresso drinks. Now, once-high-end coffee drinks are being served to the masses. Flat whites and nitro cold brew are available at Starbucks across the country, not just the minimally designed coffee shop in urban centers. Even Dunkin&apos Donuts serves cold brew coffee now.

This democratization of artisanal coffee is by no means a bad thing, because it means well-made coffee is readily available for everyone. But folks are also tired of being tethered to brick-and-mortar locations for their high-end coffee fix. This is the on-demand generation, after all, with a penchant for design and technology𠅊nd that&aposs why this year&aposs biggest coffee trend is smart but mobile artisanal coffeemakers.

This new generation coffeemakers make reliably good coffee, be they shots of espresso or regular drip coffee, but that&aposs just the start. They also prioritize ease of use and portability, and many have tech integrated into the design to help people make the most of their beans.

There&aposs the AeroPress and the Chemex, which have been on the market for while but received newfound attention this year. But there&aposs also been a slew of new coffeemakers, like the BRuX portable coffee maker, for example, which brews up to 20 ounces of pour-over coffee all you need is the device, some grounds, and hot water. You can now make a shot of espresso while you&aposre driving with the Handpress Auto. (We&aposre not sure we—or our pals at The Drive�n fully endorse this in good safety conscience, however badly a coffee fix is needed.)

The AnyCafé Travel Brewer builds on existing technology and makes coffee from K-cups while you&aposre on the run. Even Starbucks is getting into the mobile coffee brewing game with its brand new smart mug allows users to control the temperature of their coffee with a smartphone app—so you know it&aposs a trend.

GINA from Goat Story is a 3-in-1 smart coffee maker that serves as a perfect summary of all these trends. The inspiration for the machine—which can make pour-over, immersion, and cold brew coffee�ording to Anze Miklavec, the CEO and co-founder of Goat Story, was the need for a coffeemaker that could make amazing coffee with as few parts as possible, so it could be brought on-the-go. As he told me in an interview in October, "We went on one trip and we took a Chemex with us, and we just forgot the scale," says Miklavec. "That&aposs when we said, let&aposs integrate it," added COO Stella Korosec. "You will not need two separate pieces," continued Miklavec. "You&aposll have everything integrated into the brewer."

GINA, which raised nearly $400,000 above its initial goal on Kickstarter of $50,000, is designed to be used with an iPhone app that can help the person making the coffee dial in the perfect recipe, even when they don&apost have a whole arsenal of coffee making equipment. That means it&aposs portable you could ostensibly pack it in your suitcase or bring it to your office and have access to perfect coffee when you want it, not just when you have time to pop out to a nearby café.

The move toward more mobile coffee choices is part of the natural progression of technology and the rise of the on-demand culture. According to Todd Carmichael, the CEO and cofounder of La Colombe Coffee Roasters, you&aposve already seen this move from fixed to mobile in most aspects of our modern lives. "Banking used to be that way. You wanted to go get money from the bank, you had to stand in line, you had to cash a check, you had to bring ID. Now, it’s mobile." He anticipates the same trajectory for artisanal coffee. The cafe will still be important, but people will be craving these drinks even when the coffeeshop is nowhere nearby. That&aposs why La Colombe has been at the forefront of ready-to-drink coffee beverages, making the first draft latte in a can in another example of high-end but highly portable coffee.

When done well, these so-called portable coffeemakers mean that good coffee is really available everywhere, "liberated" from the coffeeshop, as Carmichael described it, and the smart technology that&aposs been integrated into means that there&aposs minimal possibility for human error. But 2016 is also the year a computer programmer hacked his coffee maker, so nothing&aposs without its risks, especially when the internet&aposs involved.


Chicago, IL, 1995, Introduced direct trade

Though its first location was in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood, the germ of Intelligentsia can be found in the Bay Area, where founders Doug Zell and Emily Mange were living before founding what is now a robust number of 𠇌offeebars” in cities across the country. One major leap forward in Intelligentsia’s approach, common to the Big Three, was partnering directly with coffee farmers—what company literature calls 𠇍irect trade.” Under normal capitalistic circumstances, direct trade would be sold as a corner cut to eliminate “middleman” profit-sharers, a la Trader Joe’s Trader Joe’s brand everything in the Big Three coffee universe, direct trade is an epicurean decision𠅊 way to select coffee beans as discerningly as possible— and, secondarily, a moral one— supporting growers directly, rather than through distributors. Even its name, Intelligentsia, suggests the lifestyle of a growing coffee elite—urbane, sophisticated, single-origin pour-over drinkers. Together, Intelligentsia, Starbucks, and Peet&aposs Coffee & Tea make the big three.

Top Coffee Shops In Philadelphia

There was a time when many would disagree on what was the best coffee shop in the city. Or they would say La Columbe, because Todd Carmichael was a major part of the &ldquoSecond Wave&rdquo of coffee (so was Starbucks). Now though, there&rsquos a third wave – where baristas and shop owners are embracing the crafting of the morning mug, almost likened to a slow food movement. Shops are opening up that put all the love in their hearts into the pour of your cup. – Suzanne Woods

1500 E Passyunk Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19147-6323
(215) 271-5520
No website

Going to B2 is almost like going to a bar–sans booze. Head barista Nancy Trachtenberg had one of the premier counters with her first cafe, Benna&rsquos, at 8th and Wharton. B2 has more of the same and is right on Passyunk by SWEAT Gym, the Pub on Passyunk East and a myriad of boutiques. The baristas also blend up a variety of healthy smoothies, so you can start feeling yourself again if you spent too much time on the other side of the street the night before.

Bodhi Coffee shop (credit: Suzanne Woods)

Bodhi Coffee

Residents of Society Hill scored big with the opening of Bodhi by 2nd and Lombard. A sanskrit word for enlightenment, it should be the way everyone starts their day. There&rsquos a purity at play here, demonstrated with the use of reclaimed wood and raw materials. It&rsquos like a blank canvas ready to be painted. Brooklyn&rsquos well-respected Stumptown is the roaster of choice. They are equipped to hand pour per cup. They also cold brew quite possibly the best iced coffee in the city. The cafe just entered partnerships with boutique grocer, Green Aisle, Betty&rsquos Tasty Buttons, and Katie Cavuto of Healthy Bites. Look for their wares there.

Chapterhouse Cafe and Gallery. (credit: Suzanne Woods)

Chapterhouse Cafe & Gallery

620 S. 9th St
Philadelphia, PA 19147
(215) 238-2626
No website

Though many will grab their beverage and go, Chapterhouse lends itself to staying a while. The 60+ seats are almost sure to be filled by 11 am. The owners have the right idea about purchasing power: instead of just dealing with one purveyor for baked goods, they deal with several and procure what they feel are the best products from each of them. All the milk is straight out of Lancaster. Specialty beverages are available, like Mexican Coconut Smoothies, with banana and rice milk, or an Apply Bobby &ndash an Italian soda with apple and caramel. They work with fair trade Equal Exchange and local roaster, One Village out of Souderton.

Enjoy a beverage at Ray's. (credit:

Rays Cafe and Tearoom

141 N. 9th st
Philadelphia, PA 19107
(215) 922-5122

Coffee experts around the city were kind enough to share that this is where they get their coffee when they&rsquore not brewing it themselves. As of now, this Taiwanese café is the only one brewing coffee via siphon in order to extract the full flavor of the grind. They serve lunch and dinner on the cheap, and with a smile, and they even write you a little love letter on their website, &ldquoWe care about your health as much as you do by personally selecting only the finest of ingredients.&rdquo

How to Buy the Best Coffee Beans

Todd Carmichael is a man of extremes, even when it comes to coffee. The entrepreneur, who in 2008 set the solo speed record to reach the South Pole (nearly dying in the process), and star of Travel Channel’s Dangerous Grounds, once again scouring the globe for the best unheralded beans. “I’m like a hound dog,” says the 50-year-old Carmichael, who co-founded the Philly-based La Colombe coffee factory in 1994. “I get the scent of something, and I don’t find any relief until I get it.” In between stories of getting guns waved in his face, Carmichael offered some tips on how to choose the right beans, and the incredibly simple rule to brew like a master.

Find your flavor profile.
“There are three general categories of flavor,” says Carmichael. “Bitter chocolate, nutty sweet , and acidic fruit, which is in the vicinity of white wine or a champagne flavor. When you read descriptions, you have to ask yourself, ‘Is that my category?’ For example, if it mentions lemon and lime, that’s acidic fruit. Walnut or honey would be nutty sweet. Earthy or bold would be the cocoa or bitter chocolate flavor.”

“Right now, the leading coffee roasters in the country have these subscription programs,” he says. “They send you a little bit of coffee every week. Do it. Because you’re going to find your favorite coffee pretty quick. There’s even one called Craft Coffee. They’re not roasters they’re cuppers . So they send you like three ounces of whatever roaster. It doesn’t matter, they’re always tasty. Sometimes it’s mine, sometimes it might be Intelligentsia. Tell Craft the flavor category that you like. The coffee shows up in an envelope, and within a month you will never be able to turn back.”

Buy direct (and never from a supermarket).
“Buying coffee at a grocery store is like trying to buy fish at a shoe store,” says Carmichael. “Ninety-nine percent of the coffee in the world just tastes like coffee. So you’re pretty much stuck with just a roast. We are connected to roasters in an immediate way through the Internet. You can buy the world’s leading coffee from your phone. If you really want to buy coffee, go digital.”

Brew better instantly.
“There’s a ratio here,” says Carmichael. “To every one gram of coffee, you put 17 grams of water. This requires a scale. If you have a scale, you just doubled the value of your coffee–so if you buy your coffee for $10 a pound, it’s now worth $20. I can go to your house with my scale and blow your mind with just your coffee, just by doing that, and I haven’t done anything magical. It’s the basics.”

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How To Make The Best Coffee At Home, According To 6 Experts

For coffee lovers, there are few experiences more joyful than visiting a beloved café and enjoying a piping hot cup of godly nectar. But when it costs up to $5 a cup, depending on where you live, trying to recreate that experience at home is one of the easiest sounding ways there is to save a little cash.

Except ― it nearly never tastes as good, right? Why is that, aside from the fact that it’s a treat to have something made especially for us by someone else? In an effort to save our sanity and bank accounts, HuffPost went on a mission to find out.

We chatted with six people who would know ― they have, after all, made coffee a career. They are: Jeremy Lyman, co-founder of Birch Coffee, Michael Phillips, director of coffee culture for Blue Bottle Coffee Company, Naida Lindberg, cafe manager at Verve Coffee Roasters, Todd Carmichael, CEO and co-founder of La Colombe Coffee Roasters, Bailey Manson, education and service program manager at Intelligentsia Coffee and Emily Rosenberg, senior educator at Stumptown Coffee Roasters.

This crew of experts gave us the (evenly leveled) scoop on how to achieve coffee-shop levels of caffeination from the comfort of your own kitchen.

On some points, like the importance of proper tools, they were widely in agreement. All but one cited the pour over as their method of choice (Carmichael prefers a French Press), and they were pretty much on the same page about their distaste for coffee in pod form. But in many cases, their reasonings ― and their ratios ― differed.

What seems to be universal is that making great coffee at home is less a precious and daunting task than we might think, and it really comes down to a couple of key ingredients. Find out what they are and how to use them below.

Water matters

A lot. Every single expert we spoke to agreed. “It’s a magical ingredient in that when it’s doing its best you have no idea of its impact, but when it’s at its worst you can taste it very obviously,” Phillips said.

That being said, it all depends on where you live and the quality of your tap water. “When I drink water out of the tap in any new city I go to, if it tastes nice to me then it’s good to brew,” Rosenberg said. “If the water smells a little off or leaves a weird feeling in your mouth, chances are that won’t taste great in your coffee.”

Most experts we spoke to maintained that a simple filtration system like a Brita is typically good enough to filter it out, and some also praised Third Wave Water, a mineral supplement that, when dropped into water, claims it can aid in coffee extraction and provide the best tasting coffee possible. But trying a taste test side by side with bottled spring water could open your eyes to your coffee’s even greater potential.

“Buy a gallon of Poland Spring and brew with that, then brew a pot with what you’ve been using,” Carmichael suggests. “You’ll either say, ‘Wow, that was way better’ or ’You know what? My water’s not that bad, but at least you can rule that out.”

Less obviously, the factor that makes a difference when it comes to water at home versus in a shop is that water’s temperature. Ideally, coffee should be brewed between 195 degrees Fahrenheit and low 200s. Most drip coffee makers on the more affordable end just can’t get up to that level, meaning you’ll get a less flavorful cup.

“Even if you’re starting with really high-quality coffee that’s fresh, ground fresh and your ratios are right, if you’re not getting to the right temperature you’re never going to extract some of the more dynamic flavors of the coffee, it’s always going to be a little more muted,” Rosenberg said. ” I think that’s why we’ve pushed, as an industry, the pour-over method because most people have a way of heating water. Even if it’s just a pot on a stove it’s going to make a huge difference.”

Here's How to Make Delicious Cold Brew Coffee at Home, No Fancy Equipment Needed

Like most other millennials, I am a big fan of cold brew coffee. Sadly, it's not exactly commonplace where I live in Berlin. Every now and then, I come across a cafe with iced coffee on the menu, but because Germans love espresso (like, a lot), it's usually just that poured over ice. To my taste buds, this so-called "iced coffee" is harsh, acidic, and bitter—a far cry from the subtly sweet, smooth deliciousness of a good cold brew. If I want to truly get my fill, I have to make it myself.

Thankfully, you don't need any fancy equipment to make your own cold brew right at home. According to coffee experts, all you do need are some good beans, water, and a little patience. I used their tips and tricks to make a batch of the icy stuff to help me survive this summer, and it turned out pretty great. Here's everything I learned during the process, plus all the info you need to try it out yourself.

One of the biggest misconceptions about coffee is that different beans have different purposes. An espresso is an espresso not because of the beans, but because of the process and machinery you use to make it. "When it comes down to it, you can use any coffee for any brew method," Michael Phillips, director of cafe experience at Blue Bottle Coffee, tells SELF. So the type of coffee bean you use for your cold brew is entirely dependent on your personal taste.

"Filtering out the coffee grinds from your brew can sometimes be difficult, so it's a good idea to grind the coffee on the really coarse end of the spectrum," Todd Carmichael, CEO and cofounder of La Colombe, tells SELF.

If you don't have a coffee grinder, you can usually have your beans ground at the cafe or store where you bought them—Whole Foods and Trader Joe's both provide grinders with plenty of different settings. Just be sure to set it to the coarsest one available. Since I don't have a coffee grinder, I went to Five Elephant, a coffee roaster and cafe in my neighborhood, where the baristas were more than happy to grind my beans for me.

Great news: There's no need to take up tons of fridge space with a giant pitcher of coffee. "It's a common misconception that you brew [cold brew] by using cold water and storing it in the fridge," Carmichael explains. He says it'll turn out better if you combine coffee grinds with room-temperature water, and then enjoy it over ice when it's finished.

"One of the great things about cold brewing is how forgiving the process is," says Phillips. If you end up making it too strong, you can dilute it with water without compromising its quality. In fact, a lot of people prefer to make a cold brew concentrate so that they have a smaller amount of coffee to store.

However, if youɽ prefer to be able to drink your cold brew without having to dilute it, Carmichael says that you should rely on a ratio of 1 part coffee to 8 parts water, measured by weight. If you don't have a kitchen scale, Phillips says you can use 3 tablespoons of coffee per 6 ounces of water and expect the same results.

How long to brew cold brew is a topic that's hotly debated in the coffee community. Phillips recommends letting it sit for 12 to 24 hours, while Carmichael says that 8 to 12 hours should be more than enough to get the job done. Personally, I let it sit for 24 hours and the results were fantastic, but it certainly wasn't easy to wait that long (hours of Westworld got me through it). If you don't think you'll be able to wait as long as I did, you definitely don't have to—the final product just might not be as strong. Feel free to experiment with different brew times and see which one produces the flavor you like the most.

Phillips says the easiest way to filter the coffee is to use a method that allows you to simply lift the grinds out of the liquid. Blue Bottle sells a device designed just for this purpose and you can buy it here.

If you're not super committed to regularly brewing cold brew and would rather not make such an investment, you can filter the coffee out by pouring it through a cheesecloth or a coffee filter into a separate pitcher. You may need to use more than one coffee filter, depending on how large your batch is. Know in advance that it moves really slowly—one drip at a time—so it'll take a little while. Another option is a French press: Just brew in the carafe and then press when it's done steeping.

Bottle up your cold brew to give as a gift, turn it into cold brew ice cubes, or add ice cream for the perfect summertime treat with a kick. Now that you know how to make your own excellent iced coffee, the possibilities are endless.


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Carmichael, whose coffee shops are in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington and other cities, is an outspoken critic of President Donald Trump.

In late November, he wrote an op-ed in The Philadelphia Inquirer titled, “CEOs don’t make good presidents. I know because I am one.” Afterward, he said, Warren called and left him a lengthy voicemail.

Carmichael also said the Massachusetts senator wrote him a letter by hand after the September fundraiser for now-Reps. Chrissy Houlahan, Madeleine Dean, Mary Gay Scanlon and Susan Wild, which took at place La Colombe’s flagship cafe in Philadelphia. Warren headlined the event.

Carmichael’s swipe at Schultz is notable because of his beginning in the coffee industry: He was a barista at Starbucks’ third location.

Schultz’s aides have argued that he could rescue Democrats from Trump if the party nominates a left-wing candidate.

“It seems that nobody who is speculating about that on Twitter has given any thought to the possibility that the Democratic Party nominates someone who is so far to the left that it guarantees Trump a reelection,” Schultz adviser Steve Schmidt said. “And at that point, the only person who would theoretically be able to stop Trump from a second term is a centrist candidacy of someone like Schultz.”

Carmichael, whose company is reportedly valued at $1 billion, has long been a rumored potential candidate against Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Pat Toomey, who is up for reelection in 2022. Carmichael, 55, has denied that he is considering running for office.

Carmichael said he endorsed Warren early in the campaign cycle because the Massachusetts senator, who launched an exploratory committee last month, is “heads and tails above” other declared and potential candidates.

He said Warren is best equipped to handle an economic downturn, which forecasters warn could be around the corner.

“I believe that she has a steady hand, and now remember, the next president of the United States of America will be driving this thing in the deep bowels of hell in the recession,” he said. “That’s almost certain, and so as a driver, you want someone … that can take in a great deal of information, process it, and make a sober decision.”

Warren’s campaign declined to comment for this story.

Carmichael has said other liberal business owners should speak out in favor of policies like Warren’s.

“A lot of times, you have really, really smart people who have done things like teach at prestigious colleges, who are going to be accused of things that aren’t true or fair, like, ‘Well, you might be a genius, but you’ve never started a company,’” he said. “I [run] a live, active, really fast-growing business, and I can show you how [progressive economic proposals are] not killing me.”

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Watch the video: Todd Carmichael (August 2022).