Whight & Co is amazing. It's only been open for three weeks but we'll say it's already the best coffee shop in Colombo. Great coffee made from locally grown beans (roasted on site), excellent food, lovely desserts, charming service, and the best use of the seaside Marine Drive location ever. We love this place.
Colombo coffee shops range between big, expensive and fundamentally boring franchises (Baristas, Coffee Bean, Cioconat, Gloria Jeans, etc) to charming but small places like Cup Cafe and Hansa. As you can tell we're personally partial to the small ones with character, but they all have their place. If a gang of school-kids goes to Hansa or Cup Cafe the small spaces would explode, and for business meetings you need parking, etc.
Whight & Co strikes a happy medium between the big, convenient franchises and the tiny, interesting local coffee shops. It's a big space in a great location with quality coffee and professional service. It's the best of both worlds.
I'm not an expert on coffee so we've enlisted some help from Anush Wijesinha, who helped spot this place on Instagram.
If for some reason your doctor tells you have a strange medical condition that you can never drink coffee again but can have one last cuppa I know where I’d go. Whight & Co. is Colombo’s newest cafe and probably the first nice one down Marine Drive.
Their house blend is quite strong. I liked it, but a friend I went there with said she found her cappuccino too strong and needed a bit of milk. She actually wanted a flavoured coffee drink – maybe a mocha – but they don’t have those. For purists like me, I loved this about Whight. But I can see why the coffee menu might be limiting for some.
We tried the pour over coffee (Rs. 340) and the cold drip (Rs. 340). They were distinctive and really good. What impresses us is the process that goes into the taste. Whight & Co grows their own coffee in Sri Lanka from descendants of the original crops that died out in the 1869 coffee blight. Yes, Ceylon was a coffee growing nation before we got into tea.
Their dedication to the process is visible and shows results in the cup. They grow the beans here and roast them in what they call the "Roasting Room Cupping Lab". They also have these amazing contraptions for brewing the stuff in ways I honestly don't understand.
Of course, whatever perambulations you're going through only matter if it makes the product better. It does. As Anush mentions, they only offer a limited range of coffees, but the ones we had were great. Presented beautifully in chemistry type equipment, both the hot and cold coffees have character and kick. Truly a wonderful coffee-drinking experience.
Whight & Co is run by the same people that do Cricket Club, which has quite reliable fare. The items we tried were excellent. The burger sliders (Rs. 750) come with three little burgers – beef BLT, chicken spinach corn, and fish. They come beautifully presented with fat fries and, despite dropping the chicken down my shirt, they were all very good. Creative and good.
We also tried the tamarind chili prawns (Rs. 1,400) with garlic rice and a rocket/bacon/corn salad. Bit expensive, but what you got was high quality prawns, fresh, perfectly cooked and absolutely popping with taste. The rice and salad were exceptional.
Anush tried some more, we include his comments as well:
The eggs benedict was super. The eggs were poached to perfection (yolk was just the right amount of runny) and the hollandaise sauce hit all the right notes. Came with four triangles of toast, though I wish they'd used a thicker bread for their toast and better ham. A small touch that could lift the whole dish. The tomatoes were grilled just right and the rocket leaves were fresh and crispy.
On a previous occasion I ordered the chicken tortilla wrap (came with chips) and my friend had the fish and chips. The wrap was tasty and moist and the chips were fat and rewarding.
Overall the menu seems pretty much along the same lines as Cricket Club. But the breakfast menu looks special. I've heard the Sri Lankan breakfast here is good too.
We also tried the dessert tasting plate (Rs. 480) which features an excellent cheesecake in a cup, a popping mango passion tart and an average brownie. Really nice overall.
Our overall impression of the food? Banging. It isn't cheap, around Rs. 750 for good-sized starters, pushing Rs. 1,500 for beef and prawn, but it's good ingredients done creatively and well. These are somewhat normal coffee shop price for food, but the difference is you're not getting a basic sandwich or boring pasta here. These are creative and original dishes that you won't find in any franchise file.
We feel like it's a very good value for money. We had everything we could desire, from coffee to food to desserts, and it came out to about Rs. 1,500 each. If you're sitting down for a few coffees and a bite you can easily get away for less than a thou quite happily.
As a road, Marine Drive has the best view in Colombo, criminally neglected by the restaurants there. Whether for lack of space or whatever, there has long been no place that really took advantage of the view. Whight & Co does. From upstairs and downstairs, you can see the sea, and we've heard that it's amazing for sunsets (obviously).
The building itself was sensibly constructed to start with and they've finished it nicely with polished cement and wood floors. The furniture is solid and naturally a bit curvy, you still get the natural shape of the wood.
Most importantly, it's big. Kids that frequent coffee shops tend to roll 10 deep and the two floors have space for that sort of crowd, while also having enough distance between spaces that someone else could have an intimate meeting at the same time.
The other crucial issue for a coffee shop is having parking. While Whight doesn't have a parking lot of its own, you can park a good amount of cars on Marine Drive. This could be better, but it works.
The service we had was exceptional. The waiters know the menu and can explain stuff (it's thankfully a small menu) and they're thoughtful and efficient. The owner, Gabi is around and will gladly walk you through the coffee process from plantation to cup and she's actively involved in keeping the place awesome. We can't fault anything in the service. Even the security guard was cool.
Not sure you can tell, but we really like this place. It takes a local product (coffee) and presents it in an amazing location with good service. In terms of intent, it doesn't get any better for us. In terms of delivery, the coffee and food taste great. This new spot ticks all our boxes. We think it's already the best coffee shop in Colombo.