Here is an excerpt from Craig LaBan's online chat of Dec. 9, 2014:
Craig LaBan: I hope you've got your mugs ready, because this chat is dedicated to Philly's rising coffee scene. My three guests figure prominently in that wave: April Nett, co-owner (with Elysa DiMauro) of Menagerie Coffee in Old City; Evan Inatome, owner of Elixr cafe and roastery; and Jean-Philippe Iberti, co-owner of La Colombe. Welcome! Our coffee scene has changed so much just in the past few years. What distinguishes Philly's cafe world as unique?
Evan: Oh my gosh, there are so many people/cafes doing such a great job, so many nice roasters locally and people like April doing multi-roaster shops.
April: It's the sheer amount of quality shops that conveniently seem to be sprouting up in every neighborhood.
C.L.: JP, La Colombe has evolved so much. Can you talk about your current push to expand into new cafes across the country? The potential number I've read is 90 nationwide.
JP: I don't focus on numbers. It takes the yeast out of the bread. We are still just two guys opening cafes . . . (and) I am comfortable with five cafes per year.
C.L.: Evan, why begin roasting your own coffee?
Evan: I wanted to start roasting because there is something special about being able to procure coffee from the farms I want - that I always thought were special, and then be able to roast them in a way that fits Elixr. Even within the "specialty" roasters in the city, we still have very much our own style, even amongst lighter roasts.
Reader: How do you feel about "coffee shop offices"?
C.L.: Ah, the "coffice," as April said. Related: how do you all feel about WiFi? La Colombe doesn't do it.
April: The reality of the coffee-office or "third space" is bittersweet. It takes finesse. Some days we'll admit to wishing we didn't have WiFi, but we never want to be without our friends and customers. It is a fine balance.
Evan: We want to provide a nice space for people to work and use social media, but it's very difficult to find a seat sometimes at Elixr - mostly attributed to WiFi. I think it's a utilitarian matter of making the most amount of people the happiest. At some point . . . we might have to reevaluate.
JP: WiFi makes cafes look like someone else's living room, the shoes are off . . . it's not sexy!
due to comments Todd made in blog columns for Esquire. That relationship seems to have improved a lot. How in your mind has that evolved? Was it important to you that it change? April and Evan . . . curious to hear your vantage point on this. Have both ends of Philly's coffee community come together at last?
JP: It was pure FRUSTRATION, to explain Todd's rants. Coffee was being hijacked to a place where it does not belong, TAKEN AWAY FROM THE EVERY DAY MAN. I love to have a strong coffee culture as a city. Our goal is to make Philly a great destination for coffee.
Evan: I'll be honest. Years ago when the Esquire articles came out, I was pissed. In the last couple of years though (and with JP and Todd hiring all my friends!) they have done a lot to progress the business! I like to think we all have a good rapport with all the specialty players (in Philly) right now.