The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf seems to slowly be turning into Colombo’s next Barista – they are very popular, despite their difficult prices, and this is now the third outlet to pop up in the city.
The Liberty Plaza ‘Podium’ is basically a big glass extension of the old Liberty Plaza building, on the right of it – you can get in directly and conveniently through an escalator that begins near the pavement (you can’t come back down this way though – while inside you need to cross over to the old building and use the elevator, which is a pain).
The space is still under renovations but it seems this will be a much posher extension to the old LP, with designer clothing stores like Giordano in the same corridor. This is an even more central and convenient location than their main branch; the food and drinks are alright, and it’s a comfortable, easy space for a quick bite or meetup, so we can easily see it growing into what Barista is now (the rich man’s Barista, that is).
The Food & Coffee
This section is redundant if you’ve been to Coffee Bean before. The desserts – cakes, pies etc, are generally tasty and fresh, and the sandwiches and coffee are alright (it’s good, but you wouldn’t go out of your way to come eat this stuff). We had a passion fruit tart, Rs. 500, and it was creamy and of a clean rich flavour, extremely sweet, and they also make good chocolatey mini-eclairs.
For our main we got a rosemary chicken sandwich, which costs Rs. 680, and a cafe latte which costs Rs. 500. The coffee is okay, better than Barista coffee but not nearly as good as, say, Whight & Co‘s, usually in need of loads and loads of sugar sachets to balance out the bitter. The sandwich we got was simply put together, plenty of salad and chunky lightly roasted chicken – tasty, but not 700 rupees worth of tasty.
The ambience here is their signature style – warm yellow lights, light wooden tables, a couple of custom coffee crates here and there. Like the main branch, it’s comfortable, clean, cool and an easy option for working on your laptop, reading a book or a quick work meeting.
It’s a smaller space though, and I don’t know if it was the timing of our visit but it felt brighter and much less cramped than their main branch. Probably because there is less furniture here and even those are spaced far apart.
Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf has a range of food and drinks that are alright, but definitely overpriced for cafe style concoctions (if you get a main, drink and dessert, you’ll end up spending about Rs. 1700 per head). The Coffee Bean brand is self professedly high-end though and at least they have been consistent. Their Liberty Plaza branch is very accessible so if you don’t mind the bill, it will do if you’re in the mood for a snack or latte in a quiet, A/Ced space.