53A, Nelum Pokuna Mawatha, Colombo 7
Open 7.00AM to 12.00 Midnight
Barista is the biggest coffee shop franchise in Colombo. Though their Laksala branch is just as so-so as the others in terms of food and drinks, it's got a lovely park-like ambience.
The Barista Lavazza franchise is all over Colombo. Their branch at Laksala in Colombo 7 is no different from the rest in terms of food and coffee but it stands out because it has a very pleasant, outdoor park of its own.
Barista shares a space inside the Laksala building, so you'll be looking at Laksala's colourful glass display of handcrafted trinkets while you're there. Architecturally, the building is in sync with the colonial-era National Museum which shares the premises. Nestled and secluded amid greenery, it looks great as you head down the long driveway to get there.
Barista doesn't offer a lot in terms of food - mostly sandwiches. We got a pol sambol and fish sandwich for Rs. 220 and it tasted alright, lots of pol, lots of mackerel, in grilled bread. The food at Baristas usually tastes like it's been taken out of the fridge, unwrapped and microwaved, which is not so bad if you're just in a hurry for a snack.
We also foolishly asked for waffles, for the fun of it. The waffles here were unfortunately of a cardboard-ey texture, with dollops of whipped cream and chocolate sauce in an attempt to overcompensate. It was a bland experience save for the cream (if you're looking for good waffles, try Waffle Corporation).
Coffee-wise, we got a caffe latte. This cost Rs. 400, and personally, Barista has never impressed in the drinks department. The latte comes so scaldingly bitter that no amount of sugar will ever change its mind (believe me, I've tried). But I guess if you're not nitpicky about your espresso and you just want to wake up, the coffees here are strong and do the job. Whight & Co does it much better however.
On the inside, this Barista is much like the others - smooth, square dark leather seating and token stock images of happy Europeans on the walls. It's Barista's clean, cool, quiet interior that probably makes it such a popular hangout (besides the fact that it's a big brand) regardless of how so-so the menu tends to be. Service is always prompt.
The outdoor seating space is this coffee shop's saving grace. There's a cobblestone veranda of seats (and garden seating too) surrounded by a beautiful green park on all sides, big trees et al, very pleasant in the evening sun. This mini-park is also where the Colombo Design Market happened last month.
The museum-grounds Barista has the nicest location off all their branches. The food and drinks are what they are - they'll do, if you're here to hang out with friends or pass the time, but otherwise not really worth the price. The cobblestone and green gardens outside are very pleasant in the evenings though, so it's a good place to chill out or read a book.