Whole Foods Market has deepened its relationship with La Colombe, a specialty coffee roaster, that includes training, new cafés and nationwide product placement.
La Colombe is known for ethical, long-term trade practices with growers. It provides signature classic blends and single-origin coffees to cafés, hotels, restaurants and retailers around the world. In addition, the company owns and operates 30 cafés in Philadelphia, New York, Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C. It has also made headlines in the ready-to-drink business with its Draft Latte, touted by the company as the world's first-ever textured cold latte.
As part of its new growth agreement, La Colombe will provide the coffee and training for cafés in several Whole Foods regions, including Rocky Mountain and North Atlantic.
Two Friends of Whole Foods Market locations, which are owned and operated by La Colombe, will also open within two Whole Foods flagship locations this year. The first café will open this fall in Whole Foods' North Lamar Boulevard store in Austin, Texas, making it La Colombe's first Texas location. Following the opening of the Austin location, La Colombe will expand its New York City footprint with a Friends of Whole Foods Market café and roastery in the Bowery neighborhood. This will be La Colombe's ninth New York City location and its first New York City roastery.
Friends of Whole Foods Market is an opportunity for businesses and entrepreneurs to establish independent retail spaces inside its stores.
Earlier this year, La Colombe opened three cafés in collaboration with Whole Foods in the Rocky Mountain region, and in August, the companies opened two cafés in the Boston metropolitan area. These locations are the brand's hospitality accounts and are owned and operated by the Whole Foods Market team, but fully serviced by La Colombe.
Additionally, La Colombe has secured national distribution of roasted coffee in all Whole Foods locations across the country.
"We are thrilled to continue growing our relationship with La Colombe and proud to offer this high-quality coffee to our customers," said Jeff Turnas, SVP of global culinary procurement and operations at Whole Foods. "From an assortment of ready-to-drink coffees, to the service of Friends of Whole Foods Market cafés, to collaborating on a roast offering together, we feel confident that our customers will find their favorite La Colombe offering at our stores."
"The La Colombe and Whole Foods Market relationship goes back more than 20 years, when the retailer carried us as a local coffee roaster in the Mid-Atlantic region," added Chuck Chupein, president of Philadelphia-based La Colombe. "In more recent years, they were a true early adopter to our Draft Latte product, and we are now the No. 1 ready-to-drink brand in the set. We could not be more excited to expand our relationship."
According to recent IRI data, the total ready-to-drink coffee category is $2.2 billion (MULO +C) in annual sales and is growing at an average rate of 25% across all channels. In the grocery channel, La Colombe's ready-to-drink beverages are one of the category growth leaders, at 74%. Since the inception of Draft Latte in 2017, the product has gained more than 87,000 points of distribution nationwide.
The first certified-organic national grocer, Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods has more than 500 stores in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. The company is No. 26 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2021 list of the top retailers of food and consumables in the United States, while its parent company, Seattle-based Amazon, is No. 2 on PG's list.