Gloriously sweet marsala tea is very much a Nepali staple but more and more coffee aficionados are beating a path to Kar.ma Coffee, a hidden gem tucked away in Lalitpur. Here, the aroma of freshly brewed, Nepali grown coffee is as intoxicating as the good you’ll be doing just by drinking it.
This is much more than a great place to get your daily caffeine fix. Yes, the coffee is superb and the snug little alcoves that stretch along the balcony outside provide a lovely place to sit and sip. But it’s what Kar.Ma Coffee does that sets this place apart.
For starters, the beans are locally sourced and single origin, purchased from small cooperatives throughout Nepal to keep track of the quality and retain individual flavours. When the beans reach Kar.ma Coffee, the exclusively all-female team uses an eco-friendly drip brewing system – no power required – to produce a very flavoursome brew, and thereby outsmarting Kathmandu’s erratic electricity supply in the process.
The brewing hub is part-kitchen, part-gift shop with shelves stocked with heaps of feel-good products, everything from organic coffee soap and body scrub (made from the cafe’s used beans), to coffee honey and handcrafted ceramic mugs. There are decorative paper lanterns, gift boxes and notebooks for sale, all ingeniously upcycled from the café’s used drip filters, along with beautifully crafted mango wood chopping boards, and a range of handicrafts that support artisans trying to find their feet after Nepal’s devastating 2015 earthquake.
In the midst of it all, a big wooden table is stocked with the day’s choice of cakes, savoury treats and chocolates, and there are freshly brewed teas and cold fruit sodas on offer too. On the last Friday of each month, wine makes it onto the menu and that’s when I visit to mingle with new and familiar faces enjoying the live music.
I order icy apple juice, deliciously moist carrot cake and a chocolate lava cupcake, all of which my companions quickly devour while I’m distracted, savouring my mug of frothy milk coffee. Our afternoon treats are reasonably priced, except for my milk coffee, which has no price tag at all. Instead, I’m asked to pay whatever I think it is worth into the cute ‘Karma Chicken’ at the door. Priceless!
Find your way:
Created by Birgit Lienhart Gyawali five years ago, Kar.ma Coffee (karmacoffee.com.np) is open Monday to Saturday from 9am. Head to Gyan Mandala at Lalitpur and follow your nose to the second floor of a creative, community hub, a 20-30 minute taxi ride away from Thamel’s tourist hub in Kathmandu.