Have Coffee with Culture

Over the last two decades, the café culture in India has gained not only momentum but also maturity. This can be attributed to the increase in disposable incomes among select but sizeable pockets of urban India, the growing influence of western culture, especially among our young demographics, and the increase in working population.

According to TechSci Research’s report, titled ‘India Coffee Shops / Cafés Market Forecast, Consumer Survey and Opportunities, 2021’, which was published in January 2016, the coffee shops / cafés market in India was projected to grow at a CAGR of over 11 percent during 2016-2021, on account of the growing coffee culture among young population, increasing urbanisation, rising disposable income levels and changing eating and drinking preferences of consumers. “Changing work patterns of business executives is also driving demand for such coffee shops / cafés, as these outlets offer services such as free Wi-Fi, entertainment zones, etc.,” observed the report.

During the last ten years or so, the growth of the coffee culture in India has been amply manifested by the entry of a slew of multinational coffee café and bakery café chains in the country, and also by the impressive growth of Café Coffee Day — the Indian giant in the retail coffee sector. But now that the café culture has gained maturity in post-modern urban India, it is about time for many Indian entrepreneurs to explore the untapped potential of the coffee café or bakery café market in India a big way and give tough competition to the multinational players by catering to the local tastes and flavours.

According to the above-mentioned TechSci Research report, in addition to  urban centers like New Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad and Kolkata, entry of new chains into tier II and tier III cities of the country is anticipated to emerge as a major factor driving growth in coffee shops / cafes market in the country over next five years.

This emerging trend is reflected in the amazing growth of Coffee Culture, whose maiden outlet came up in Surat in Gujarat, in 2004. Coffee Culture is the brain child of its Founder and Director, Gaurave Naarang. He has nurtured the brand with his passion and vision. An idea of developing a coffee café brand with a unique experience came to him in the year 2003. It took almost a year of work to come up with his first outlet of Coffee Culture in Surat and it was warmly welcomed by the city. Since then there has been no looking back…

Today the brand has expanded its presence across 13 outlets, with six of them located in Surat. The other outlets of Coffee Culture are located in Vapi, Bardoli, Vadodara and Navsari in Gujarat, in Lucknow, Jabalpur (in MP) and Jaipur.

There are upcoming outlets in Anand, Surat, Mumbai, Vadodara and Rajkot.  The Lucknow outlet, whose franchise owner is changed, is to be re-launched. “The Lucknow outlet will be redesigned with the all new theme and decor along with the launch of new non-veg menu,” proffered Naarang.

Two of the outlets are company owned whereas the others are franchised operations. It is heartening to see that this café chain has grown so far across the relatively unexplored tier-II and tier-III cities, without probing in to the crowded metro markets till now, which are of course, associated with tough competition and steep real estate costs.

“The reason behind opening up a number of outlets in tier-III cities of the country is that these cities do have a paucity of sleek hangout spots and  thus they have great untapped market potential for our outlets, where we provide a wonderful combination of great food & beverages and family entertainment,” elaborated Naarang. His logic reflected business savvy.

Coffee Culture outlets can be aptly described as ristorante lounge.  An outlet of Coffee Culture endeavours to intelligently imbibe the local culture and flavour of the place where it is located. “We create community cafes – so we always try to connect the look & feel of the store with local attributes or culture of the place. As Vadodara is an art city, we have presented the Vadodara outlet as an art gallery café. Our recently completed outlet has been in Navsari; a town with a vibrant Parsi culture, and so we have recreated the Parsi culture in the café,” explained Naarang. Similarly, for the Jaipur outlet, the ambience and décor attempt to simulate a palace with industrial feel.“The vision of Coffee Culture is to have 100+ outlets by the end of year 2020 with a strong national presence,” Naarang stated further.

This writer visited the 74 cover Vadodara outlet in the recent past, which according to the Restaurant General Manager of the outlet, Raja Joshi, has been already attracting 500-700 persons per day on an average weekday and 800-1000 persons per day on an average weekend day. The outlet was launched in August 2016. The outlet’s décor presented a kaleidoscopic view of the cultural montages associated with traditional Gujarat, with representations of colourful peacocks and kite festival, and of the famous Laxmi Vilas Palace being some of them.

Besides cappuccino, latte and mocha, the sumptuous menu at Coffee Culture includes cookies, muffins, cinnamon buns, an array of pizzas, burgers, sandwiches, bagels, pasta, and sizzlers. Decadent cakes and creative mocktails give the sweet touch to the menus.

At the Vadodara outlet of Coffee Culture, I particularly liked the Teekha Tadka Pizza, the Mexican Sizzler, and Tex-Mex Nachos. Among the plethora of beverages on offer at the outlet located in the historic city, Green Apple Fizzario, which is an aerated summer drink made with green apple syrup and soda, and Choco Frappe — a sweet chocolate drink blended with ice-cream — deserve special mention. I found lots of innovative cold coffee offerings at the outlet.

For those with love for experimentation are likely to try the Nutty Milano, which has a unique flavour of hazelnut in cold coffee; topped with ice-cream and chocolate chips, and also the Coffee Chocolaty Shake, which is a chocolaty coffee drink blended with chocolate ice-cream and chocolate sauce.  Joshi informed that all outlets of Coffee Culture in Gujarat served only vegetarian dishes, considering the predominantly vegetarian population of Gujarat.

At present, only the Jabalpur outlet of the chain has non-vegetarian options in its menu and the re-launched outlet in Lucknow (which would be operational from August 2017) would have non-vegetarian options in its menu.

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