Talk about Bangalore and instantly people recognize it with its awesome weather and its pubs. But over the years, the café culture has strolled into the lives of its people and is almost synonymous with the Garden City. Yes, when V G Siddhartha opened the first Café Coffee Day (CCD) at the Brigade Road in 1996, he wouldn’t have had an inkling of what he is going to create. He certainly wouldn’t have dreamt that in the next decade or so, there will be cafés lurking around almost every corner of Bangalore. Following the success story of the CCD, a good number of brands like the Barista, Costa Café, Gloria Beans and the international Coffee giant Starbucks have set foot to try and gain a foothold here.
But it was never expected to be like this. Bangalore, being in the Southern part of India, is famous for its filter coffee. And to get the filter coffee population to accept this new and relatively expensive concept of coffee, had its own challenges. But I thought it is where the all the cafes played smart. They made sure that they all had a cozy and a quieter ambiance to attract the customers, a feel good surrounding and of course, the quality beverages to bowl the customers over. It was more than just the quality of coffee and food. They slowly were emerging as a catalyst for social conversations. When CCD had its tagline, “A lot can happen over coffee”, it instantly reached the people. Stress busting gossip sessions, dates, friendly hangouts, girly chit chats and birthday treats were all to happen here. Think of pre-café days where you had to go to faraway places to hangout. You can’t think of doing that in today’s time. More than anything, the insane Bangalore traffic wouldn’t make life easier for you. That’s where these cafes which are at walk able distance from anywhere in the city, comes to your rescue.
Most of the cafes provide the WiFi connectivity so that their customers can stay connected online. Over the time, these cozy corners have even attracted the business people. A lot of successful start ups in Bangalore still cherish their days spent in one of these cafés as they were working on their business ideas. Cafes these days have improvised a lot. Some of them have their little libraries while some rope in talented bands to perform. Global Tree Café at the MG Road has an art wall which the artists take over on a monthly basis to showcase all their works. When Barista opened, one could see people playing scrabble and strumming the guitar. It’s all about having a niche that separates one from the rest.
So, what’s the future like, for these coffee shops? Bangalore has been witnessing a surge in the number of International coffee players and the trend is set to continue. It was expected that they would eat into the markets of the existing players here. When Starbucks opened its first outlet in Koramangala last year, people wondered how the CCDs would be impacted. But they were quick to realize that the market here is huge. There is a lot of potential which remains untapped. All the brands have set out their expansion plans for Bangalore and are not looking back. The Café culture in Bangalore will continue to blossom in the days to come too. After all, Bangaloreans love their coffee and the Coffee town of Coorg is very close by!!