Here's a list of Colombo's independent coffee shops, so you can quench your thirst with a cup of freedom.
For the purposes of this list, we're counting independent coffee shops in Colombo as those with owners that are individuals or co-ops directly involved in the running of the business (if not physically present), and coffee shops that specialise in coffee, brewing, and sourcing. Chains, franchises, and hotel coffee shops, unfortunately don't count in this case!
Hansa Coffee sources their own beans from their farms all the way up in Nuwara Eliya. They process their own coffee, sort their beans by hand and basically go through an arduous process to serve up a good cuppa. They also have their own chocolate, so you have the best of both worlds under one roof. If you're a fan, you can also buy their coffee at the supermarket.
Kopi Kade gets down imported coffee and varieties from all over the world and they do their own roasting (at least they're trying to, but their roaster malfunctioned-Malinthe says they'll start soon). In addition to the superb ambience and architecture, you can also engage in a bit of friendly convo with the manager and ask him all your coffee-related queries. Their prices aren't too bad either, with most of their cuppas ranging between Rs. 400-450.
Dolce Italia's brand new spot on Skelton Road has a whole bunch of new contraptions, from a pizza oven to a shiny coffee machine. We were told they serve up Guatemalan Arabica, but they use capsules to ensure there's consistency. A cappuccino goes for about Rs. 400 here.
The Island Coffee Shop will forever be etched into the memories of Colombo's youth of yesteryear. Although its popularity has dwindled now, it's still hounded regularly by many a student and passer-by alike. They have a range of different coffee beans you can purchase and they'll grind it up for you. They also have all the old equipment that was used back in the day, so it makes for an interesting experience overall. Their iced coffee at Rs. 30 isn't so bad either. You can also get (not very great) packs of pre-ground Island Coffee in the supermarket.
Black Cat has sort of developed into go-to hang out spot. They've got a superb interior full of little knick-knacks here and there that are aesthetically pleasing (for some reason) and of course, they have a menu chock full of some really good food. That aside, people also frequent Black Cat because of their great coffee. They use Temple Grounds Artisan Coffee and either Costa Rican or Columbian beans. I was told that the type of bean they use depends on what they get delivered on that particular day.
The cats aren't around anymore, as is the case with cats of all kinds, but there's an adorable dog you can while the hours away with.
Prices start at Rs. 400.
Known for their sensational cakes and for ensnaring unsuspecting citizens with their famous Tres Leches cake, Butter Boutique also serves up some excellent coffee. They use imported beans that deliver the precise amount of caffeine-soaked goodness to quell your hearts. Or get your hearts racing. Whichever. They've spared no expense bringing down a La Marzocco coffee machine, Niccolo coffee from Melbourne and they even initially had renowned barista Davide Drummond in town to get things started. Of course, it isn't cheap with the prices ranging from Rs. 250 for a shot of espresso, going up to around Rs. 550 for others.
Aside from being nestled into a cosy little seaside nook, Whight has been a watering hole for many a tired adolescent and groups of giggling girls alike. The main reason for this is, of course, their coffee. Using a special blend of their own coffee, they offer some brilliant battery acid that's so good it can be consumed on its own without any add-ons. Try their Ca Phe Sua Da; it's really popular with a lot of folks. Varieties of coffee generally go for about Rs. 400-500 here.
Cafe Noir, with its seductive interior, also poses as a quiet and dimly-lit retreat for many a tired citizen. They use a certain brand of Italian coffee (the lady on the phone mysteriously wouldn't tell us which) to whip up their coffee that'll leave you refreshed and rejuvenated. Await the re-review!
Cafe La Defense is a little bistro down Park Road that you can pop into to escape the hustle and bustle that is Colombo. They use a premium Italian coffee that's manufactured in France (???) called Mokasirs and while their coffee didn't really razzle-dazzle, they're still not bad.
Bakes by Bella took the city by storm with their nifty cake and brownie jars and adorable IG presence. They're now a full-fledged restaurant that'll satisfy your caffeine cravings. Using local Soul Coffee, they whip up a myriad of different types of caffeinated drinks guaranteed to make you happy (and poorer). Most of their coffees are in the Rs. 500 range.
London house of Coffee, with its somewhat august interior, always appears to be infected by a swarm of loyal customers on any given day or night. According to the staff, the coffee at London House of Coffee comes from Ceylon Coffee in Kotmale. The beans are roasted on site, 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 and French Press coffee (which comes with a handy little timer counting down 4 minutes. When the alarm starts ringing, you plunge the press and have at it).
Cafe Kumbuk is more popular for their juices than they are for coffee, but nevertheless, they do coffee and they do it well. Using Soul Coffee that they roast and grind themselves, they deliver a superb cappuccino that they say is a must-try.
Keep in mind that some of these locations aren't consistent with their coffee and regularly switch up their beans and sourcing, so visit or call to find out what their most recent haul is. Also let us know if we've missed anyone!
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