Kolkata, The City of Joy is known for its rich heritage, scrumptious foodstuff and intellectual gossip (adda). And when it comes to the famous gossip point in Kolkata, how can one skip the name of Coffee House, which stands opposite to the Presidency College at College Street.
Times back when people were not acquainted with some of the sensational brands like Starbucks, Baristas or Cafe Coffee Day, Kolkata Coffee House used to be the preferred meeting place for all intellectuals, revolutionaries and freedom fighters. At that time there was no diversity of flavours like Latte or Cappuccino that most of us relish today with absolute glee. It’s been decades now since when the vintage Coffee House in Kolkata has been carrying its long lasting existence with pride.
This write up is an attempt to feel you nostalgic with the popular Coffee House of Kolkata.
Located opposite the Presidency College at College Street, the historic journey of Kolkata Coffee House was initiated way back in 1876 as Albert Hall. Moving ahead in 1942, a coffee joint was incorporated from this Albert Hall, which was further named as the Coffee House by the Central Government in 1947. Later in 1958, the Coffee Board and its Management decided to shutdown this heritage place due to some pecuniary crisis. But after a purposeful initiative from the professors of Calcutta University and Presidency College, the prestigious Coffee House was re-opened in the same year. Thereafter, the place has transformed into a popular hangout hub for the scholars, artists, poets, film makers, singers and many other renowned personalities from various fields of interest. Even today, the same inheritance is sustained here by the people of Kolkata. Starting from college goers to lovebirds, visitors flock the Mecca of Adda for the sake of elongated talking sessions with their buddies.
Standing aloof from 1950s, today if you ask a mainstream Bong veteran about Coffee House, you will get to know the significance of this vintage site, which has witnessed several legendary footfalls and their intellectual talk sessions. Today, the vintage Coffee House of Kolkata is remembered by an eternal song “Coffee House’er Shei Adda’ta Aaj Aar Nei” sung by another legend Late Manna Dey. In English, the song signifies “the gossip days of Coffee House are no longer now”.
The Nostalgic Ambience:
Are you a frequent traveller to College Street or are you still in your studies at Presidency College? If you come up with an affirmative response to these questions, Coffee House needs no further figurative introduction to you. Even people from Kolkata who are residing overseas today can’t refrain themselves from witnessing the nostalgic ambience of this heritage house. Located near the academic hub of Kolkata, Coffee House still remains a favourite hangout spot for the people of all age.
On entering the Coffee House, you can feel the rich culture of Kolkata. An offbeat blend of captivating paintings, photo frame of Tagore, the majestic walls, marble top tables encircled with chairs, balcony tables and lofty ceiling fan drive you for a sure shot love affair with its nostalgic ambience. Although, some changes are being executed in the overall interior of Coffee House after the renovation, but group of buddies circling the table still let you feel the actual fun of gossip at Coffee House.
Peeping over the first floor balcony tables from your seat in the second floor gives you a wonderful vista of gossipers. If once you used to be a frequent visitor to this place, visiting Coffee House today may revive your old memories. And if you are one of them who have already witnessed the presence of some legendary figures like Amartya Sen, Sunil Gangopadhyay, Manna Dey, Mrinal Sen or any other celebrities, nothing could be as exciting as reviving your nostalgic days at Coffee House. That’s why one can say that the real reason to soak here is something beyond just a cup of coffee. For a Bong, spending 2-3 hours talking sessions here is something quite apparent.
Foods that you must try at Coffee House:
Apart from trying a signature sip of coffee, at Coffee House you can also fulfil your gastronomic need with variety of luscious platters. Some of the lip-smacking items here include boiled egg, sandwich, fish, mutton, rice, chicken, fast food, noodles, soup, pakoda, Mughlai Paratha, samosa, cutlet and several other mouth-watering snacks. In addition, a cup of tea or beverage may also make your visit here equally breathtaking.
If your purpose of visit here is merely a cup of coffee, make sure you catch a glimpse over the variety of coffee that are being served here. Some of the commonly tasted coffees that you must try here include hot coffee, hot coffee with cream, cold coffee and cold coffee with cream. One of the most alluring parts of the foodstuffs here at Coffee House is the pocket-friendly charges. By spending an amount of INR 10 to INR 120 one can get a diverse range of eatables here. Be it a sandwich biting breakfast or rice full lunch, Coffee House is an absolute delight for foodies. So, if you are looking for exploring an offbeat heritage site around Kolkata, do pay a short visit to Coffee House.
You can visit here from 9AM-9PM. But as the day progresses, it becomes quite challenging for visitors to find a relaxing space. Starting from local visitors, travellers also flock here from different parts of the country. Hence, the place remains occupied throughout the day by plenty of visitors.
After spending some spellbound hours at the Coffee House if you look for some classics of Tagore or any academic books, look no further than exploring the book stores at College Street. Being one of the busiest parts of the City of Joy, College Street is best known for showcasing a wide range of books fulfilling the requirements of several bookworms. This place is reckoned as India’s largest book market and the world’s largest second-hand book market. Apart from boasting an array of books, College Street is equally an appealing site for foodies. A walk around the busy street will glimpse you several food corners where you can spend some delightful moments with your buddies.
How to go:
The popular Indian Coffee House is always a great place for hangout. However, travellers residing outside Kolkata can also reach this place of legacy quite conveniently. If you are travelling by train, the nearest railheads are Sealdah and Howrah station that are located around 2Kms and 5Kms away from the College Street respectively. On the other hand, from Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport the distance to reach College Street is nearly 16Kms. From airport and railway station you can easily hire a taxi or cab to reach Coffee House. In addition, one can get into a bus that passes through College Street. Some of the buses on that route are Bus No.2 (Rabindra Sadan-Paikpara), Bus No. L14A (Esplanade-Vidyasagar Samity) and Bus No.L14B (Karunamayee Estate-Esplanade). Adding on to that list, Bus No. L3C, 3D, L16, 46 (Dum Dum) etc. are several other buses that also run through College Street. Besides, you can also hire an auto-rickshaw to reach College Street from some of its adjoining destinations.
So, what are you waiting for? Plunge into the yesteryear’s popular Coffee House and experience the prestigious meeting point of Bengal’s think tanks. If you are one of them who heard a lot about the Coffee House, but couldn’t make it happen to be there in person, plan a short hangout with your biddies now. May be 4-5 years later down the memory line you will also have some incredible moments that will make you feel nostalgic about this spectacular place.
A cup of coffee, group of buddies and some uninterrupted gossip; let’s adda!!