"The Colombo story began many years ago when a young James Brown Richardson, who was employed by Thornton Tea and Coffee, was called to service during the First World War. An Australian veteran of the Siege of Ladysmith, he decided to move to South Africa some years before as he had grown fond of this charming land during a visit. After catching Malaria in East Africa during WW1, he was invalided out. When James (fondly known as "Jas B") returned, he found that his employers had gone under and that he would have to carve his own path in order to continue in the industry that he loved. 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 (now known as Gauteng). But in 1922, when Jas B could not deliver to strikers during the Rand rebellion, he was forced to pack up his shop and move to Durban due to the threats of the strikers involved.
It was in 1923 that Jas B together with his son, Norman Richardson (who was 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 was based on the Richardson family’s knowledge and “nothing but utmost value” approach to Tea and Coffee. The Colombo Tea Agency, specialists in Tea, Coffee and Cocoa, would continue to make their mark on the people of Durban through harsh times and dark realities, to the silver lining and even brighter future.
Fast forward to the early seventies - the Richardson family business was well supported in their decision to turn down offers in buying their West Street property (the original micro-coffee roastery and shop) as a part of a development project in 1972. In refusing to give way to big business, Norman Richardson, then MD of the company, quickly became a people’s hero receiving a flood of appreciative letters from all over the country.
Colombo Tea & Coffee Co. has undergone many changes, but time has taken kindly to the Colombo legacy and the preservation of our ideals. Our Mission since 1917 has been "To never compromise on the value of fine Tea and Coffee and Cocoa, and to spread our love of these fine beverages to all that we come into contact with". We now have the opportunity to communicate this message with the entire International community, showing our knowledge and skills, passed down to us through generations of passionate research and development. Our young team is comprised of passionate roasters, blenders and baristas dedicated to the artisan science of flavour, especially the complex characteristics found in tea and coffee. Lead by Victor Richardson (fourth generation director of Colombo) and Kyle Fraser (the young blood and breath of life into Colombo) commitment to the local audience and web of local ‘business partners’ we are destined to spread our unique message to an eager market!"Who wouldn't want to pop in for a cuppa now?!