PLUS NINE FOUR – An Interview with Shana

 
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How does it feel to open up your third café in Colombo and how different was it from the other two cafés? 

PLUS NINE FOUR has been in the making for the past 6-8 months so it feels great to finally have it open to the public! There were plenty of times I thought it wasn’t going to happen but I can safely say the blood, sweat and tears were worth it. I feel that PLUS NINE FOUR is definitely more an extension of us (mum and I) and our personalities than our other two cafes. We’ve learnt a lot in the past two years opening up Café Kumbuk and Kumbuk Kitchen and we put that to great use this time around.

Obviously the name PLUS NINE FOUR is something different and its confusing for people as to why we didn’t want to have it under the Kumbuk umbrella. Seeing as we are in partnership with Soul Coffee on this project we wanted to choose something a little different and quirky and ultimately diversify the brand. PLUS NINE FOUR focuses mainly on locally sourced coffee and come June we’ll be adding some simple and delicious hot food to the menu. The space itself is quaint and lovely with a secret garden vibe to it that we love so much (except in Monsoon season).

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What makes Plus Nine Four stand apart from the other two spaces that belong to the Kumbuk family? 

Its got its own flavor and feel to it, in terms of design, atmosphere, food and drink offering. Most people who have come across PLUS NINE FOUR in its early days had no idea it was linked to Café Kumbuk which is kind of the reaction we were after. Kumbuk will always be our first love but there’s always room for something different.

Soul Coffee has been making its name around the Island as one the best coffee brands in our country. How did this partnership come about and what makes their coffee so special? 

We’ve been working with Soul Coffee for over two years now. We partnered with them to provide coffee to both Kumbuk cafes and we instantly hit it off! Rinosh is a good friend, great landlord and he knows his coffee so we are super happy to be in partnership with him and his team. I love the fact that Soul Coffee is grown and roasted here in Sri Lanka. They work with small holder farms and plantations to source select coffee beans. The coffee is grown without using any environment – devastating monoculture practices and they follow ethical farming standards. They’re also fellow Good Market approved vendors so that helps. Drop by the café and taste the goodness for yourself!

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Did you do the interior and design of the space by yourself or was there someone behind the creation of the space? 

I worked with Avisha de Saram Interiors to conceptualize the space and then liaised with various different makers to fabricate the various different pieces you see in the café. We wanted to go for something quite airy and cozy. I love the fact that all our cafes are open plan and don’t depend on AC to keep them cool. Big shout out here goes to Robert from Idea Hub who made the most incredible coffee counter for us – not easy considering the odd slanted walls we had to work with!

Hot food started at PLUS NINE FOUR in June. Can we expect to see a larger menu soon or will it be limited to the items on the menu now? 

The PLUS NINE FOUR hot food menu is small but delicious! We’ve focused on finding special gourmet ingredients from small scale suppliers to create simple yet sophisticated dishes. Our topped toasts are incredibly popular, using bread from Bread.lk, we hope to expand this range over time. We’ve got a fantastic kiri toffee brioche French toast and soon we’ll be releasing our ash plantation burger and lamb naan. The food should be tasty and simple!

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From what you've experience so far, how has the new space been received by the community of Colombo? 

I think those that have visited dig it! They like the chilled vibes, the coffee and most importantly the space itself. I think there’s plenty of room in Colombo for more cafes and we are glad to be offering something new to the community of Colombo.

What is your favorite drink and dessert on the menu? 

Favourite drink has got to be the Passionfruit and Mint Iced Tea – super refreshing in the heat and goes easy on the sugar! As for dessert – it has to be the chocolate coffee ice cream tart. Our pastry chef Pulina has done a fantastic job getting our dessert menu going and we can’t wait to see what else he’s got up his sleeves.