By Natasha Fernandopulle, Life, Daily Mirror
It is a fact that a good cup of coffee isn’t easy to find in Colombo. What you are most often exposed to are those sickeningly sweet instant coffees or if you do head to a coffee shop, the most frequent complaint I hear is that the coffee is too milky and not strong enough and of course, that it is way too expensive. So it was quite refreshing to come across Hansa Coffee which seems to have solved most of the issues pertaining to local coffee and coffee shops.
The prices are reasonable, while the coffee is extremely good. In addition, their coffee is truly Sri Lankan stuff. Since I am not an avid coffee drinker, after having a few sips of their Cafe Latte, I actually had a coffee high, if there is such a thing!
The story of Hansa Coffee began when Lawrence Goldberg came to Sri Lanka from Seattle, known as the coffee capital of the USA and home of the famous coffee chain, Starbucks. In the 1800’s Sri Lanka was known for her fine coffee and we were even able to compete with Brazilian coffees at the time, Shaniya Hulugalle, Lawrence’s wife, explains adding that a disease wiped out the coffee plantations. Eventually tea was introduced to our agricultural landscape and the rest is history, as they say.
Lawrence wanted to revive the coffee industry in Sri Lanka and after a number of experiments and taste tests that were positive of course, Shaniya and Lawrence felt it was time to put the product into the Sri Lankan market. If you’ve tried their coffee, like I did a few weeks ago, the chances are, you’ll go back for more! Their coffees are available at a few supermarkets in Colombo but the best place to buy it from is their cafe that is tucked away down Fife Road.
Coffee aside, Lawrence who is an organic farmer also experimented with the cocoa and after three years of experimenting they produce 50%, 60%, 70%, 80%, 90% and 100% cocoa. The 100% cocoa slab has no added sugar in it. I can’t wait to try it out some time! I had a nibble of the 90% cocoa chocolate and even though I initially thought it’d be bitter, it was far from it. It was earthy and fruity and at the same time rich and intense. I’ve not had anything like it, to be honest. In fact, a few weeks later I tried out their Hot Chocolate, made using 70% cocoa and it was easily the best Hot Chocolate I had had.
Another of my firm favourites at Hansa Cafe is their Cardamom Cappuccino. The idea of cardamom in coffee may seem a bit alien but just take my word and try it out – it is so smooth and cosy and you will want more. To accompany this I’d recommend any of the goodies that are in the store, baked by Shaniya from chocolate cakes to brownies (made using Hansa Chocolate). Or even their moist, light and comforting sponge cake with lovi jam. “I reproduce my mum’s old recipes,” Shaniya says adding that she doesn’t mass produce the food and most of the baked goods change from time to time but the delicious intense chocolate brownie stays on the menu. And if coffee isn’t quite your thing, they also have a variety of hot and cold teas to choose from.
Another interesting aspect of their menu are their toasties with pretty interesting fillings from Pol (coconut) sambol and Marmite or their Chocolate and Banana sandwich or even their cheese and green chilli toastie. The cheese used in their toasties and other goodies, is sourced from a local cheese maker.
What I like about Hansa Cafe is that it is so inviting and cosy and makes you want to spend hours there. For all you dog owners, “Dogs are welcome,” Shaniya says adding that there is a water bowl for them. The delicious beverages and food aside, it is the cosy and comforting atmosphere that makes Hansa Cafe one of those must visit places in Colombo and being able to take your four legged friend with you, is always an added bonus.