Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Coffee shop crib

I like Barista. I just hate their coffee. It's bitter, yes even the cafe au lait (which has 1/2 tsp more of the white stuff than the non-lait), and even after demanding and dunking more sachets (lots more!) of that other white stuff.

So coffee bars are an American concept and they like it black, with no sugar if you please. Why torture brown skinned natives who didn't elect George Bush and live 3000 miles from Graceland?

Still, people are flocking to Barista and I'll tell you why. Because the coffee is just incidental. It's the place to meet. "See you outside Asiatic at 7?" That kind of thing is history.

The younger lot - students - seem to prefer Cafe Coffee Day, popularly known as CCD. Even though Barista has slashed prices. It's still perceived as being more expensive.

In Bombay, Barista has better locations (right next to Sterling and Regal cinema), for example. And although CCD has some neat outlets (like Carter Rd), many are really cramped and dinky ones.

There is of course Mocha which I am happy to see expanding its reach. There's a really cool outlet opened in Ahmedabad, a stone's throw from IIM.

It's actually one of the most interesting of all Mochas as it's housed in a bungalow - which means lots more space to loll around! And there's a tree growing inside the place which adds a lot of character.

Of course, Mocha cannot expand as rapidly as a CCD which has just opened its 200th outlet because mass-replication would kill the whole concept.

For one, they serve edible food - unlike the cardboard with sugar sprinkled on top taht passes off for a doughnut at Barista.

And, each Mocha outlet is replicated in spirit - but not down to every last doorknob, as is the case with CCD/ Barista. I even like the fact that every chair in the joint isn't alike :)

There are other coffee shop chains - Qwikys, Java City and so on. I don't know enough about them to comment - they're more regional in nature. Given that anything which isn't making an impact in Mumbai can't really be national :)

On the other hand, there is a feeble attempt by the Tea Board to popularise tea bars. The only really popular one we had - th Cha Bar at Oxford Bokstore - was unceremoniously shut down by the BMC some time ago.

Coffee, however bad the brew may taste, has a cooler ring to it.
No thanks to 8 years of endorsement by Rachel & co in Friends.

Now, if they could just concentrate on getting the stuff they serve there to taste better!


  1. Anonymous1:45 PM

    Well, some Americans like their coffee black, and while it is an American trait to try and force their ways on the rest of the world, and while the majority of people did vote for Bush... (I apologize. I voted Kerry but it wasn't enough.) Coffee shops here thrive on $5 specialty drinks that are only partially coffee at all. My favorite is called a Mint Condition, which, served large, is three shots of espresso mixed with chocolate, mint flavoring, steamed milk, whipped cream and mint chocolate shavings on top. The reason I like it so much is because I can barely taste the coffee at all, yet I benefit from it's caffeine.

    But I have to say, if there's something I don't mind from the States trickling over to other countries, it's the idea of coffee shops becoming local gathering points. I've worked at one, and frequented many. Even the more corporate stores are great for meet-ups, and philosophical conversations about anything. So for that, I'm glad our trend has made it your way.

  2. Anonymous5:45 AM

    Given that tatse is very subjective, a lot of people also frequent Barista, because they like the coffee there. The ambience definitely helps, but the product has to be good too, and if the general public disliked their coffee, Barista would not be thronging with people.

  3. Anonymous7:46 AM

    As a Xavierite, the Barista at Sterling was my regular haunt. The coffee sucked, the space was pretty restricted but it had the charm that a regular haunt has.

  4. Anonymous8:13 AM

    Barista blast rocks man!! and I love their pastries and all!
    An average CCD coffee is definitely not as great as an average Barista coffee (Don't ask me what an average Barista/CCD coffee means... just go along with me ;) ). The only one which I've found nice is Devil's own...
    But yea... these places are generally used more to hang out than to have coffee.
    Anyways... nice blog Rashmi :)

  5. nice and interesting post.. i can smell the coffee right now sitting in office man.. Barista blast is amaznig !! but yes u r right some of them dont taste as good and cost a lot of dough.. but then I guess its more for the palce that ppl go there :)

  6. Anonymous9:43 AM

    hey! i think coffee shops like barista and CCD suck! they are there just to brainwash the youth and the old(who think they are still young) into drinking overly priced coffee sitting in glass showcases with other retards showing off to each other how cool they are!

    you want to try some real coffee? go to matunga , near kings circle and have the coffee on the street!

    trust me you wont regret it! :p

  7. Haha glad other people realise this too...just made a post about this a day or 2 shops/cafes arent around for coffee drinking...they are 'hang out joints'. How many times have you seen anyone walk into a CCD or barista and order a coffee to go...
    Of course I shouldnt be complaining. If it wasnt for the CCD at JATC, I would have my very own 'hangout joint'. Its a new found habit to go there at least twice a week.
    Btw, I like their Iced Eskimo....

  8. CCD scores over with Cappuccino, Latte and pure Espresso...
    Mocha's much better at Barista...
    .. and frappe and brrrista are good in their own spaces.

    ofcourse... all this as pronounced by taste buds of me n my 2 good friends :)

    and ya... it was 10 years of friends... the last two seasons may not have been as good, by why completely ignore them!

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