Indian Coffee House-Unforgettable Legacy of Old Kolkata since 1876

Indian coffee house

Kolkata is known for its rich cultural history and the various food joints serving delicious delicacies. Seldom a food joint rises from the stature of being an everyday eatery and becomes a cultural landscape. The Indian Coffee House in Kolkata, also known as Coffee House on College Street, is one such food joint where history mingles with food.

This 300-year-old eatery has been the centre of India’s literary and intellectual movements. It continues to be a nostalgic ‘adda’ for all, as what is better than a freshly brewed cup of coffee as you indulge in an erudite discussion?

Indian Coffee House History Kolkata

As you walk down the meandering lanes of college street, hustling and bustling along the corridors of second-hand book stalls, if you take the street opposite Presidency College, you will notice a cavernous doorway and a flimsy Indian Coffee House history headboard, but you must not judge the place by its outer appearance. 

Entering through the doorway and up a winding flight of stairs, you will reach a giant hallway filled with chattering voices; that is when you will realize why it is called Kolkata’s cultural and historical landscape.

The enormous hall with its high ceilings, gently rotating archaic ceiling fans, simple and small tables set together, the portrait of Rabindranath Tagore displayed at a prominent place, and sunlight from the high-set windows immediately takes you back in time.

The coffee house has retained its old-world charm from its pre-independence days, with its vintage pocket-friendly menu and staff dressed in a white starched uniform, a red-gold sash around the midriff, and the signature turban. The place has two levels; on the upper level, it’s a simple veranda furnished with the same tables and modern paintings that overlooks the giant hallway.

coffee house

In this era, where most people prefer to go to modern cafes, people keep returning to this place; such is the power of attachment and nostalgia. One can take a cup of coffee and occupy a table for four hours, and no one will ask them to vacate the table; such is the legacy of this place.

The coffee house is constantly abuzz with a crowd of all age groups that range from college students, office goers, retired senior citizens, and intellectuals of Kolkata, gathering here to exchange ideas, hold discussions about politics, education, sports, marriages, economy and almost everything over a hot cup of coffee. The tables, chairs, and walls have witnessed endless stories and conversations. 

Read More: Check out the updated menu card of Coffee House!

Indian Coffee House: Back in The Day

The origins of the Indian coffee house date back to the 1800s, during British rule. In 1876, this building was founded as Albert Hall in the college street area, as the then crown prince of England was visiting Kolkata. As an act of self-determination in 1942, this hall was converted into a coffee house, given to colonial oppression by Britishers who did not allow natives to eat at coffee shops. 

Eventually, a chain of such home-brewed coffee houses sprouted across various places in India. In 1947, the Indian Government renamed it as ‘Coffee House’. The coffee house has been operated by the co-operative Society of Indian coffee workers since 1958.

Since its inception, college students from neighbouring colleges and intellectuals have flocked to the Indian Coffee House, the primary reason being the affordable price of coffee. The halls of this coffee house were always humming with laughter, debates, and discussions. 

The place always smelled of coffee and cigarettes. The tales paint a romantic picture of the place, narrating how the writers and poets in the making would come here and spend hours on their literary works while twirling a cigarette in one hand and sipping a cup of coffee with another. Coffee House has witnessed its all-debates, the budding romance of college students, political agendas, etc. 

Many noble personalities of Bengal, like Rabindranath Tagore, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, Satyajit Ray, Mrinal Sen, and Amartya Sen, to name a few, were the regular patron of this Indian Coffee House, making it a centre of literary and cultural movements.

Apart from being a centre of literature and cultural activities, it was also a centre for political movements. Since the days of British rule, this place has been a hub for leftist political party members and freedom fighters. Many ideas and strategies of activism and independence have germinated here.

Gastronomic Offerings at Coffee HouseIndian Coffee House Kolkata Menu

The Indian coffee house Kolkata is mainly known for its vintage ambience, intellectual crowds, and coffee. People seldom discuss the range of tasty snacks one can munch on while nursing a cup of coffee. The place is pretty affordable when it comes to prices, where a meal for two would cost around 200 rupees.

Note that you might have to wait to get a free table. If you have never been to the Indian coffee house near me and have little idea about its menu, we have listed some of its must-try delicacies.

coffee house cold coffee

Cold Coffee with Cream

This old-fashioned cold coffee does not come with a heavy dose of cream, ice cream, or any other topping. Instead, it has the right amount of cream blended with coffee and ice to make it chilled. 

Chicken Kabiraji Cutlet

It is different from the regular cutlets that you get. The speciality of this chicken Kabiraji cutlet is that whisked egg is added on top of the chicken while it is still getting deep fried, and the egg transforms into a crispy coating. Served with ‘kasundi’ and salad makes the perfect evening snack.  

Mutton Afghani Cutlet

This is a lip-smacking and perfect snack for people who like spicy and saucy snacks. Mutton Afghani cutlet is essentially a mutton cutlet topped with a thick, brown, spicy tomato-based sauce with some salad on the side.   

Chicken Omelette

The chicken omelette is a Coffee House signature dish. A fluffy egg omelette stuffed with well-boiled and seasoned shredded chicken and buttered bread makes it a perfect partner for coffee.  

Chicken Sandwich

Unlike most sandwiches that we get at sandwich joints today, with the overdoes of mayonnaise, cheese, and other items, you will get a classic chicken sandwich with boiled chicken seasoned in butter, salt, and pepper at Coffee House. 

As time changed, the Coffee House underwent its share of changes. Even though Baristas, CCDs, and cafes have become more prevalent today, Kolkata and its people have held onto its 300-year-old piece of culture. It can be said that the Indian Coffee House is indeed the power of rich history and nostalgia due to which coffee house remains an integral thread in the city’s fabric. 

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