Our Story

Who We Are

Colombo is Durban's Coffee Company. We have a rich coffee history as we were established in 1917. Being both a cafe and wholesale roaster, enables us to source the finest coffees from Africa, South and Central America. If you are after a blend or a single origin coffee, Colombo has great options. You can be confident that the coffee has been roasted with care and is ready for you to make an amazing brew.

The Colombo Story

James Brown Richardson (fondly known as “Jas B”) moved to South Africa in the early 1910’s. He first worked for Thornton Tea and Coffee which he left after being drafted for The First World War.

When James returned from the War, he found that his old employers had gone out of business. He would have to carve his own path in an industry for which he garnered an unbridled passion.

In 1917, Jas B opened his own shop in Johannesburg, South Africa and began to provide Tea and Coffee to the mines in and around the Transvaal (Gauteng).

A challenge presented itself in 1922 when miners striking for the Rand Rebellion refused delivery and threatened violence forcing James to pack up shop and move to Durban.

In 1923, Jas B together with his son, Norman Richardson (only 17 at the time) founded The Colombo Tea Agency in a basement of the old Barnes & McFie Arcade in Durban.

The Colombo Tea Agency, specialists in Tea, Coffee, and Cocoa, would make its mark on the people of Durban. It was a place where people gathered to drink from the specialty menu, learn the news of the day, and meet with other locals.

Fast forward to the early seventies – the business rejected offers on their West Street property made by a large corporation who wanted to develop the property. By refusing to give way to a large corporation, Norman Richardson, then MD of the company, became a hero of the people, receiving a flood of appreciative letters from all over the country.

Over the years, Colombo Coffee & Tea has undergone many changes. Our values, however, have remained the same and thus our commitment to bringing you the finest coffee and tea lives on today. If he could see us now, we’re sure that Jas B would be very proud!

 

Colombo Today