London House of Coffee.

London House of Coffee is the newest player to enter the coffee scene in Colombo. Their focus on coffee and nice location on Gregory's Road makes them worth a try. However, at the time of this review, they’re only open from 3 PM to 9 PM so don’t think about going there to get your morning espresso fix just yet. Update: They're now open from 7 AM

Location & Ambience

Located on Gregory’s Road, London House of Coffee’s stone-walled two storey premises is not difficult to locate. While they have some seating on the ground floor, the main seating area is upstairs.

The air conditioned space consists of some widely spaced sofas which provides you with some privacy. We found the faux-leather sofas to be somewhat uncomfortable to sit on but the cloth chairs were more than adequate. The balcony area upstairs has a bunch of wood/metal chairs that reminded me of school. Not the best place to sit on a hot and humid day but they do have a few portable fans and it’d probably be best for a cold evening.

The interior decoration was something that we weren’t huge fans of. The space feels a tad dull and it could do with some paintings on the walls. Not a deal breaker by any means, but definitely something they could improve. The wooden floors were nice but there were many scuff marks on them – odd for a place that’s been open only for a few weeks.

Coffee and Food

According to the staff, the coffee at London House of Coffee comes from Kotmale. The beans are roasted on site – similar to Whight & Co. – guaranteeing fresh coffee at all times. You can see the roasting equipment on the ground floor when you walk in.

Their menu consists of a range of espresso based beverages, French Press coffee, specialty tea, juices and smoothies plus a few sweet and savoury items. Their main focus seems to be on coffee – which is appreciated. You can have a look at the full menu here. The prices include taxes so you won’t get a nasty surprise at the end.

I decided to start off with some coffee, obviously: Double Espresso (Rs. 390) and the Special Ceylon Dark Roast (Rs. 425).

I’m not by any means an expert, but I liked the espresso quite a bit. It smelled good and tasted strong with a hint of bitterness and good looking crema. Most of the espressos I’ve had here came from pod machines so I instantly compared this with a disappointing espresso I had at Hansa a little while back.

Then to the next cup of coffee: The Special Ceylon Dark Roast. These brews are presented to you in French Presses with a handy little timer counting down 4 minutes. When the alarm starts ringing, you plunge the press and have at it. This cup of coffee was also quite good. Dark, strong and quite flavorful. Dinesh didn’t like this much found it a bit similar to Hansa’s coffee but I was impressed. It did have a slight muddy flavor you get with local coffee. I’d also recommend the medium roast as I’ve had it before, but I wasn’t a fan of the light roast. It felt under extracted and rather bland.

My colleagues decided to go with a few Lattes. The Hot Dark Chocolate Latte (Rs. 520) didn’t impress Dinesh. The coffee taste was strong with this and I did kind of like it but the promised dark chocolate was nowhere to be found. The Cold Caramel Latte (Rs. 520) Aisha got was quite nice. A good amount of coffee and adequately sweet. They did provide additional sugar syrup if you wanted more sweetness.

Bhagya wanted to get a Strawberry Smoothie and they got it wrong and brought us a Strawberry Juice instead (Rs. 400). The strawberry flavor was prominent on this with maybe a little too much sweetness. However, I found it to be a bit too watery. The Strawberry Smoothie might be a better bet. (I’ve tried their Coconut & Mango Smoothie [Rs. 500] and it was very good).

To munch on, we got the Dorset Apple & Cinnamon Cake (Rs. 220). We found it rather dry and dense but the cinnamon flavor was quite noticeable on it. Points for the flavor, no points for the rest. I tried something similar to the Yorkshire Roll (Rs. 210) on the opening day and it was very light and fluffy. The sprinkling of sugar on it gave a crunchy feel when you took a bite, which was quite nice.

On the opening day of London House of Coffee, I noticed that their sweets came from The Cakery. I’m not certain if this is still the case.

Since they don’t have a wide variety of savoury items, we didn’t try them on this occasion. I’ve had the Smoked Salmon Quiche (Rs. 375) and it wasn’t anything to write home about.

Service

Although friendly and fast, the service at London House of Coffee leaves something to be desired. The staff doesn’t seem to know their menu well and they fumbled around quite a bit when we asked about their offerings. When we made our initial order, our server completely missed a couple of beverages we asked for, while he entered the order on his handheld device – which seemed to take his complete attention. We had to repeat what we asked for multiple times and it got frustrating real fast.

When the drinks came to the table, they managed to get one order wrong. They were quick to fix it but after they got another order wrong, we just threw our hands up in the air and gave up.

We could’ve forgiven the issues in the service because the place is new but they have been open for a couple of weeks – more than enough time to get their operations streamlined.

Conclusion

If you like coffee, you really should give London House of Coffee a chance. They need to improve on their service quite a bit – but since the place is new we’d let it slide for now. The place isn’t crowded most of the time so if you’re looking for a quiet place to read a book or have a conversation with your date over a cup of coffee, this might be it.

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