Indian Coffee House In Kolkata – An Adda With Nostalgia Written All Over It

Dec 14, 2020 | Food

Coffee House history in India has been an act of self-determination. Particularly, Indian Coffee House, fondly called Coffee House on College Street, Kolkata has been a flag bearer of modern India’s intellectual and literary movements.  The hot coffee and the hotter debates that take place here ensure that your coffee is grounded in the strong local culture.

Having a colleague native from a city has its issues. He tends to get excited about every big or little thing.  Sometimes it is a miss, but more often than not, a hit. We had loved the experience at the charming Café, Hazra More, Kolkata. This time we were exploring Coffee House at College Street, Kolkata.

Coffee House history

Indian Coffee House has a long history dating back to the pre-independence era of India. Given that colonial Britishers would not allow native Indians to dine at coffee shops, as an act of self-determination, a chain of home-bred coffee houses sprouted across India.  Since the year 1958, it is run by a co-operative society of Indian coffee workers. They have many outlets in the country but perhaps no other outlet is as popular as the one known as “Coffee House” on College Street in the central part of then Calcutta, now Kolkata.

Coffee House, College Street, Kolkata

Structurally Coffee House still retains its old-world charm with a very high ceiling, simple tables and chairs and a huge photograph of Asia’s first Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore hanging at a prominent place. Modern paintings have been added on the upper-tier sitting area. The waiters wear starched white uniforms, a red belt and a signature turban that stands as high as their nose. They make you feel that it is your honour to be served by them. We love the oodles of well-earned attitude that they display.

Coffee House in Kolkata has a rather vintage pocket-friendly menu. A meal for two can cost you about Rs. 200/-. Their hot favourites are coffee, egg sandwich, chicken cutlet, fish kobiraji cutlet and, pun intended, cold coffee.

Coffee House is located on College Street, the literary area of Kolkata, already known to be the cultural capital of India. No wonder, Coffee House is way more than just an old coffee shop. Coffee House in Kolkata has been a hub for cultural, intellectual and literary activities. It is located virtually opposite to University of Calcutta, Presidency College and Medical College, all institutions with oodles of repute and heritage and opinion. Thus this café is a popular hangout spot for students who are known to spend hours on heated discussions and debates. This spot has also been a hub for leftist political thoughts and many ideas for movements and activism have germinated here. That apart, traditionally, a host of stalwarts from not only Bengali but Indian intelligentsia visit this place for discussions, meeting associates in the city and generally regaling in the intellectual joi de vivre.

Their regular patrons include Oscar-winning filmmaker Satyajit Roy, Nobel laureate Amartya Sen, renowned filmmaker Mrinal Sen, noted author Sunil Gangopadhyay, poet Sakti Chattopadhyay and singer cum music director Manna Dey, to name a few. So if you are here, chances are you are already in for some exalted company.

There are other branches of Indian Coffee House in Kolkata. We have known one at Jadavpur and we are told that there is a swank outlet at the newly developed part of the city – Rajarhat. However, Coffee House at College Street remains the star.

How to reach Coffee House in Kolkata

If you are visiting Kolkata and want to visit this cultural hub so unique to the city, you can take the metro railway and drop at College Street station. Coffee House is walkable from here. This place is also well-connected by buses and radio cabs. We love to take the yellow Ambassador taxis unique to Kolkata whenever we come here.

But we have a better idea for you. We suggest, if you are in Kolkata, don’t miss this opportunity of taking the leisurely tram and reaching Coffee House in a style befitting the heritage of this place.

Other interesting places near Coffee House

If you are in this part of Kolkata there are so many other activities that you may engage in. After dining at Coffee House, we stepped out and just around the corner, we spotted a board indicating Maha Bodhi Society, a Buddhist shrine. We visited Maha Bodhi Society and then walked down to over a century old iconic sherbet shop – Paramount. The College Square Park is also in the vicinity. A must-do activity here is, of course, walking down the sidewalks of College Street for book stores. This book zone is well-known across Asia as a treasure trove for many rare finds.

Closing thoughts

Baristas and CCDs happened to Kolkata later than many other cities of India. Starbucks came much later. But Calcuttans have always had their own star in this sector, not the fancy Flury’s but Coffee House. A cup of coffee here is literally grounded in the local culture. So, if you want to taste coffee Indian intellectual style – throwing your tourist guidebook in the air, the Indian Coffee House in Kolkata is a must-visit.

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28 Comments

  1. Monidipa

    I miss kolkata. I miss spending sitting alone sipping infusion coffee and smoking while reading in Coffee House. It is not only nostalgia but that place is love of any kolkata person. Thanks for this lovely post.

    Reply
    • Delhifundos

      Visitors from other places are charmed by Coffee House as well.

      Reply
  2. Surbhi prapanna

    Wow interesting. I had visited Kolkata last year and indeed got impressed with the intellectual style at many places as you mentioned. Will surely try to visit coffee house when visit India next time.

    Reply
    • Annie Arora

      Oh wow! I have never visited Kolkata. Thanks for this mini virtual trip 👍👍👍

      Reply
    • Afreen Ansari

      I have been to Indian Coffee House when I had gone to Kolkata cannot agree more with all the points mentioned. Lovely informative blog

      Reply
  3. Gurjeet Chhabra

    Coffee house in Kolkata is so cheap and seems like great hot spot for coffee and debates

    Reply
    • Docdivatraveller

      Indian Coffee House is a must visit when in Kolkata. The fact that it was frequented by legends makes it all the more special.

      Reply
    • Delhifundos

      Agree with you – it is indeed a pocket-friendly eatery in Kolkata.

      Reply
    • Bharati Banerjee

      On my recent visit to Calcutta, I visited the legendary Coffee House. From its more than ordinary entrance, it is difficult to guess the enormity of the place. The place was teeming with youngsters. The high ceiling and the balcony deserve a mention. The balcony strewn with tables has modern art adorning the walls. There is an old world vibe to the place. Alas, the coffee was disappointing.

      Reply
      • Delhifundos

        We tend to agree that the quality of coffee has indeed gone down.

        Reply
  4. Gopalakrishnan

    If intrested to open an coffee outlet on Pammal main rd 3km FM Chennai 600075 a busy rd & commercial rd on RENTAL BASSIS IF YES SEND YR WATTSAPP NUMBER. CONTACT **********.

    Reply
    • Delhifundos

      Thanks but no thanks 🙂

      Reply
  5. Techtraveldine

    Such a beautiful cafe and so low price. Staff uniforms is interesting reminds me madras cafe in mumbai .

    Reply
  6. Mrinal Kiran

    Coffee house is legendary… I have been there with my friends when I was in college… This post brought back those memories…

    Reply
  7. Judy

    I didnt have a chance to visit Indian Coffee House Kolkata but it certainly has the old world charm that all ICH restaurants have and the food there is just awesome.

    Reply
    • Delhifundos

      Yes, very vintage and laidback, in a good way.

      Reply
  8. Hansa Kajaria

    Truely and authentic Indian style grounded coffee is the best and all the fancy and expensive cafes n baristas take a back seat. This place is a perfect place to chill n gossip.

    Reply
  9. Sweta Papaiyawala

    Wow. Coffee house on Kolkata is so interesting. Such places apart from ccds are also worth a visit.

    Reply
  10. Rahul Prabhakar

    I have been meaning to visit Kolkata for sometime now & you’ve certainly added yet another reason to visit the city. Since I love coffee anyway, I don’t see a reason why I would not visit the Indian Coffee House in Kolkata. Thanks for letting me know about this popular coffee place.

    Reply
  11. Humaira

    Coffee house in Kolkata is so good and looks like a great hot spot for coffee and hangouts. Great thoughts.

    Reply
  12. Ramya Pandey

    This place looks good. Imagine a good old coffee costs Rs300 whereas here the whole coffee+snacks is below the mentioned budget. This is definitely worth trying whenever we are traveling that side.

    Reply
    • Delhifundos

      You would probably like this place.

      Reply
  13. Raksha

    Wow that’s amazing to know that Indian Coffee House goes back to pre Independence era. So much history and generations passed by. I will make sure I visit this place the next time I am in Kolkata.

    Reply
  14. Sandy N Vyjay

    The Indian Coffee House chain is historic and iconic too. It has its own unique aura. We had a very old branch on M.G. Road in Bangalore. Sadly they had to close that branch owing to some legal issues. However, there are a few other branches operating in Bangalore too.

    Reply
    • Delhifundos

      How sad..been there many times and loved the place

      Reply
  15. Mri

    Coffee house will always be the best adda location in Kolkata! I loved sitting there with my friends for hours!

    Reply
    • Delhifundos

      It emits this strong interactive vibe!

      Reply
  16. EleneFus

    or better not to think about it ))

    Reply

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