I remember the initial hype around this place concerned the fact that they sold Starbucks coffee and used only Starbucks coffee beans in their brews. As I wasn’t entirely convinced that Colombo really needed another Starbucks imitator/clone (we already have Barista, Coffee Bean) I didn’t make any special attempt to reach Java Lounge. Even though their JawatteRoad location always looked rather inviting. The other evening though I finally ventured inside.
I have to say I was impressed. Starbucks imitator it maybe but this is imitation done rather well. It’s got supersoft modern US coffee chain sofas and red-woodish furnishings along with a pretty snazzy looking coffee bar but somehow it manages to feel homely. Unlike a generic coffee chain outlet there’s something genuinely cosy about the place. I think the the fact that it was actually quite full on Thursday night helped add some atmosphere
So many places in Colombo are so often deserted that it's nice to go somewhere there’s a real buzz of conversation. Gaggles of teenagers slouch in the oversized settees, others bash away on laptops making use of the faster than average wi fi connection. Older patrons settle themselves in the outside space and thumb the day’s newspapers. It really has the feel of a neighbourhood coffee house- rather than simply a cut-out piece of American lifestyle impersonation.
However despite the pleasant space and nice Havelock vibes I have to report that my coffee was not particularly inspiring. We tried a Hazelnut Honey Latte (Rs 500) and a White Mocha (Rs 450) and both seemed rather watery. I know the local preference is for milky coffee but this was barely coffee. Just milk, flavourings and whipped cream. Also Rs 500 for a regular-sized cup is pretty steep particularly when it contains less caffeine than a glass of coke. To munch on we had a chicken tikka sandwich (rs 370) which was fine but utterly unremarkable.
So the quality of the food/drinks left a lot to be desired but I guess that’s not the point of the contemporary US style coffee house? It's more about having a space where you can relax and linger for a while, somewhere comfortable and public without blowing the budget and Java Lounge seems to have got that right. They have a lovely location, a spacious and attractive bungalow premise and best of all they are opened late(11pm weekdays midnight weekends).
So for like a long conversation, study-date or some productive web crawling this is a good spot, in this part of town it might be the only late-night lingering spot.
Still the coffee ought to be better.
They have free WiFi, which is nice, but from what we experienced it can be excruciatingly slow at times.