scorecardMove over Starbucks and CCD, Blue Tokai gives you the real taste of coffee
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Move over Starbucks and CCD, Blue Tokai gives you the real taste of coffee

Move over Starbucks and CCD, Blue Tokai gives you the real taste of coffee
IndiaSmallbusiness3 min read

We all love a good cuppa but how many of us really know what our coffee tastes like? I had no clue until I spoke to Matt Chitranjan, the co-founder of Blue Tokai, who told us that most of the time, the coffee we start our day with, is almost stale!

To understand better, I decided to visit his cafe, Blue Tokai, in the city. Located in an inaccessible corner of Saket, my first thought was why would anyone even come here? However, as I stepped in, the strong aroma of coffee fills up my senses. Several bags of coffee beans are neatly stacked up in a room while two women are busy milling the beans.

The rest of the space has three tables lined up where one can choose their choice of coffee from the menu. The menu too is pretty interesting. It doesn’t just offer you coffee, it also gives a brief description of the estates from where the respective coffee beans have been sourced from.
As Matt and I both sit down, I ask him what I had been wanting to ask him since I walked in—Why have you opened your first café in such an inaccessible location?

“Well, there are a lot of offices around here. So a lot of people come in for coffee during their breaks,” he says. “And we will soon be starting our delivery services, which is why this place is pretty convenient,” Chitranjan adds.

This is the first offline retail outlet for the company, which for the past three years, has been operating as an online coffee roaster, delivery coffee pan India. “We deliver in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Odisha, Bihar, Rajasthan and almost all cities in India,” he notes.

A former economist, Chitranjan landed in Chennai for a short stint in development finance, where he met his future wife Namrata Asthana. A coffee hobbyist, he and his wife managed to get a decent cup of coffee while they were down south. By the way, down South, people love their filter coffee.

However, when they move to Delhi, they were disappointed with the coffee that was served in the high-end cafes of the city. “The coffee that they offer is bad. While Café Coffee Day serves Robusta coffee, Starbucks offers Arabica. However, the coffee that they sell has been roasted a couple of months ago down South. So, what is being served is not fresh,” he tells BI India.

And that’s how Blue Tokai was started. A coffee roaster initially, he realized that coffee drinkers in this part of the country had no idea about what good coffee was. “We did not start as a proper business with any particular strategy in place. Rather, it started as a need-based thing, which ultimately turned into a business venture,” he recalls.

So, how does he plan to beat competition in the market? After all, while Café Coffee Day dominates the mass market, Starbucks rules the premium segment. And with McDonalds entering the coffee segment with its McCafe, the market has really spiced up.

“The market is really small and we have been competitively priced. A pack of Indian coffee in Starbucks would cost you nearly Rs 1000 bucks while we offer Indian coffee for just Rs 300,” explains Chitranjan.

Besides, consumers now want to really understand how coffee actually tastes. Blue Tokai has been engaging with the consumers through their blogs. Also, the company has seen a substantial rise in the queries for their coffee. “Initially, our consumers used to expats and NRIs. But now, a lot of young professionals want to understand the different experiences of coffees. And this is primarily through organic promotion that is through word of mouth,” he says.

Interestingly, coffee chains in India have been drawing 80% of their revenues from their food business instead of their coffee business. With an initial investment of about Rs 40 lakhs, the company has been recording profits year-on-year. “ We have also raised a funding of Rs 3 crore from two investors,” says Chitranajan happily.

The company plans to expand its alliances business with restaurants and has currently partnered with the likes of The Oberoi, Park Hotel and Lodhi Garden restaurant in the city. Apart from this, it will also open two to three outlets in both Delhi and Mumbai. But unless, this doesn’t happen, it seems coffee lovers will have to survive on the dope doled out by our dear overpriced cafes in the city.