Todd Carmichael’s Excellent Adventures

He’s worked for a Saudi prince, adopted three girls from Africa, trekked across Antarctica—and this month he’ll attempt a solo journey across Death Valley. So is Todd Carmichael—the man behind Philly coffee juggernaut La Colombe—living life to the fullest? Or just out of his freakin’ mind?

“Once you succeed at something, you kill it,” he tells me. “A while ago, my dog achieved his life’s dream – he actually caught a fucking squirrel. He shook the thing and he killed it. And I almost saw this forlorn look in him, ’cause that was it. When you reach your life’s achievement, you’re happy it’s over, but you almost mourn the death of it. It’s no longer something you live with every day. That woman is going to be perfectly fine – she still has the squirrel to wake up to. So the end of the story – ‘He did it!’ – is not as important as ‘He’s got something.’ When I kill Death Valley, fuck yeah, there’ll be a mourning. And then I gotta find my next thing.”

A week later, he e-mailed: “Next year, full crossing of Atacama – oldest, highest and driest hot desert on the planet – still waiting to be cracked.”