Coffee has a certain buzz and today the buzz is loudest in a unique social environment called ‘the café’. Throughout history, across continents, coffee bars have been places to have lengthy discussions and pass time, romance and revolutionise. Interestingly, these retail outlets seem to reinvent themselves in every age, in every culture, creating a distinct café society.
India, too, has its own special café culture, spanning some three generations, with traditional and contemporary avatars. Coffee has always been more than just a drink. It has long been the excuse for that first date—a hesitant, much-deliberated-over question for the Indian teenager and many a times hot stop for brainstorming sessions for creative buds of the advertising fraternity.
A senior creative director of a reputed advertising agency sometime back pointed out that if I need to chase account movements or people’s movement, all I need to do is keep my eyes and ears open in a coffee hub around a commercial place where these agencies and media houses are located.
Cafes also acted as the fuel for intellectuals in the 1970s, who brought out anti-bourgeois literature, raised storms over injustices committed and vowed to change the world. All over a cup of coffee. Now, drinking coffee is a lifestyle statement. It is a WiFi-connected chillout zone, where you pay ten times what the cup actually costs.
The first coffee cooperative was formed in Bangalore and the first restaurant came up in Delhi in 1957, which was called ‘The Coffee House’. Today, we have a host of coffee brands, such as Café Coffee Day, Mocha, Costa Coffee and Bru Cafe World, each vying to lure Indian consumers with caramel, espresso, Americano, latte, Italiano and other flavours from around the world.
Café Coffee Day essentially targeted the teenager, while Qwicky spread its wings in the South. With the entry of Starbucks, coffee culture in India may get Americanised and revolutionalised.
The coffee retail industry is expected to comprise over 5,000 outlets by the turn of the decade. With a burgeoning upper-middle class market of 20 crore people, most coffee shops are targeting the 16-35 age group, a section with huge potential spends, courtesy the new economy and an emerging society.
Youth brands today have all together a new avenue to explore and place their proposition. Innovations in the in-cafe environment are something interesting that is garnering a lot of attention off late. There are digital screen networks which have helped Bollywood, local brands and college festivals create re-call value to their promotions.
Cafe Coffee Day, in collaboration with Deccan Chronicle publishes a monthly tabloid to engage its consumers. In a recent development, Barista Lavazza, announced its strategic alliance with Penguin Books India, a leading English language publisher. Well a cup of coffee and a good book is something that one would look forward. That is one reason why book stores also associate with cafes for an in store presence.
From exchanging of words of love, deep thinking conversations to brand awareness – indeed a lot can happen cover coffee.