There's no disputing that tea reigns supreme in Sri Lanka. It's up there with Arrack, toddy and ginger beer as one of Sri Lanka's national drinks. But there are certainly a few coffee drinkers on the island, and a cup of Nescafé doesn't always hit the spot. Enter Whight & Co. Cafe. With a focus on coffee from the growth and harvesting of coffee beans, through to the roasting and brewing process, it's one of the few places in Sri Lanka that gets really serious about coffee.
Whight & Co. Cafe is located on the corner of Marine Drive and Aloe Avenue in Colombo 3. It's housed inside a beautiful old colonial building; the tall ceilings and plentiful windows give it a bright and airy feel. There are two levels to the cafe, and from upstairs you can also get a great view of the sea directly across the road and the train tracks that run alongside it.
To the coffee. There's your standard espresso menu, but the addition of a flat white gives a clue to the cafés background. Whight & Co is owned by an Australian couple, the same couple behind another popular spot - Cricket Club Cafe. While the Italians may be the original espresso drinkers, Aussies have definitely made it their own and have developed a very strong coffee culture down under, so it's not really a surprise that it's a pair of Australians leading the coffee revolution in Colombo.
On top of your lattes, espressos and cappuccinos, there's also a pour-over coffee on the menu. Depending on how long you've been travelling through South Asia, and how much you're craving an espresso coffee, the cold brew really feels like the perfect choice. At first glance, it could pass for a bottle of soy sauce, but the cold brew is an icy cold strong hit of coffee that is both refreshing and energising.
The coffee is Ruby Harvest, a locally grown coffee that was reintroduced to Sri Lanka by cafe owner James Whight in 2001. It's grown within the central Maturata province, which it was discovered was renowned as an excellent coffee growing area in the 1800s.
It's certainly the main drawcard, but Whight & Co isn't only about the coffee. As well as a much larger drinks menu and a selection of small cakes that go with a brew, the cafe is also a fully functioning restaurant. There is a selection of wraps and sandwiches as well as larger meals like pasta, steaks, and an Australian lamb pie. You can even grab some fish and chips to eat while enjoying the seaside views.
Whight & Co Cafe is open daily from 9am till late. An espresso coffee will set you back about 320Rs, so while it's not as cheap as a roadside chai, it's still likely cheaper than a trip to Starbucks. For more information, head to the Whight & Co Cafe Facebook page.