Down on Gale Street in Durban is an old factory. Built in the 30’s, it has seen it’s fair share of sun and rain over the years, and although weathered, it is going strong. Much like the 87-year-old granny I saw yesterday revving her Toyota Tazz like one would a heavily laden 50cc Kawasaki up a steep hill. Although the shell may be mature, the heart is young, and at its centre are coffee and a team of people who are crazy about it.
Colombo Tea & Coffee Co.’s story began with one man, James Brown Richardson, or ‘Jas B’ as he is more fondly known, way back in 1917. Jas B who was just as passionate about coffee as the roasters and barista trainers there today, was first employed by Thornton Tea and Coffee. A number of events including his service in WWI, catching malaria in East Africa and traveling to South Africa resulted in Jas B opening his own shop in Joburg where he provided tea and coffee to the mines. It wasn’t long before he was forced to move as a result of the threat of strikers during the Rand rebellion. Durban became the place he would call home and further establish The Colombo Tea Agency with his son in 1923. Specialising in Tea, Coffee and Cocoa, the company became a favourite amongst locals and grew from strength to strength over the years and although the name has changed, the ideal has remained steadfast.
To never compromise on the value of fine Tea and Coffee and Cocoa, and to spread our love of Fine Beverages to all that we come into contact with.
Kyle Fraser, head roaster and blender, says what makes Colombo different is their love for change.
Our team is obsessed with cupping a new coffee as often as possible and we love to engineer seasonal espresso blends through deep involvement in roasting individual origins to the perfect profile.
Their coffee is drum roasted on the lighter side and includes a range of single origins and blends. Try the single origin Ethiopia Yirgacheffe or highly popular ‘Aggressive Chocolate’, which is an espresso blend comprised of beans from Brazil, Colombia and Ethiopia.
Colombo deals directly from the factory and their beans can be found in a number of coffee shops in Durban. Although they do not have a coffee shop of their own, plans are in the pipeline to build an Espresso Bar. Until then you can contact the team, pop into the factory or book a space at one of their fortnightly tastings.
Photos courtesy of Kristy Carlson & Colombo Fine beverage Co.