Featured Image: Souptima Basu
– A pedestal of cultural heritage of Kolkata
When one takes a flight of stairs upward beside Sarada Book Stall, he or she will catch a myriad of sounds and sights all coming from the Coffee House. With the smooth rattling of cups and saucers, there would be people talking, singing, discussing and debating. The staff here still wears the livery reminiscent of the colonial past of Kolkata. The buzzing sound you can always hear while approaching the entrance has become an integral part, a signature of this iconic eatery of Kolkata.
Location of the Coffee House
The quaint place is located at Bankim Chatterjee Street, just opposite the Presidency University (erstwhile Presidency College). Although it’s not on College Street, this branch of Indian Coffee House has been immortalized as the College Street Coffee House.
History of this iconic eatery
The present building was once known as Albert Hall, established in 1876. Later, in 1942, a coffee joint came up here. Many noted citizens started coming to this coffee joint. After the Indian Independence, in 1947, this coffee joint got its present name.
During the 1950s, the management decided to close it down due to the heavy losses incurred. But, then, the students and the teachers of the Presidency College fought against the decision. They sent a petition to the government to save and protect it as a heritage place. During the same decade, co-operatives were formed all over India to run all the branches of the India Coffee House.
Cultural Heritage of our coffee house, Kolkata:
Among the other Indian Coffee House branches running in Kolkata, this one has got more fame and popularity among the city’s intelligentsia. This might be because of the famous patrons who had come and spent a few hours here on Adda.
Writers, poets, painters, musicians, filmmakers, politicians used to come and still come here. It was one of the famous Adda sessions that gave birth to the Kolkata Book Fair, political movements as well as cultural revolutions that took place across the breadth of Kolkata.
This coffee shop can be termed as the birthplace of ideas, cultural exchanges at their nascent stages, which would get to be shaped in a later course. As put in words by noted lyricist Gauriprasanna Mazumder and sung by the immortal voice of Manna Dey, –
‘Koto Shopner Rod Othe
Ei Coffee House e
Koto Shopno meghe dheke jay
Koto jon elo gelo kotojon asbe
Coffee House ta shudhu theke jay…..’
Dreams rise and dreams fall here. People come and people go, but it remains.
Food and Ambience
The most challenging thing upon getting inside the place is getting a seat and a waiter to get your orders listed. It’s Non-AC, but you won’t feel any heat inside. All the heat here is caused by intense Adda Sessions!!
The Cold Coffee with cream has just the right amount of cream. You can try out their Infusion, too, you won’t regret it. Among the accompaniments, do go for their cutlets – especially Chicken Kobiraji Cutlet (Coverage Cutlet) and Mutton Afghani Cutlet. Here, the chicken sandwich is prepared from the Classic British recipe with boiled chicken and veggies sans the mayo sauce and other bland condiments.
This cozy place has always been about the phrase, ‘My House, My Rules, My Coffee.’ Would the new replicas like Coffee House New Town or Asansol Coffee House give us the same vibes? Only time is there to say.
The feature image is illustrated by Souptima Basu.