Through the eyes of a hot beverage addict, there are only two cults; the cult of tea and the other of coffee. While India is dominated mostly by tea lovers, recently, the rate of coffee lovers has been escalating rapidly. The story of a small cup of drink began with the fusion of tea leaves in a mix of milk, water and sugar. The flavour of tea made way for millions of tea stalls all over India, including Pune. Today, these tea stalls are known for their specialty; cutting chai. Tea, however, has never been a very interesting story compared to coffee.
Tea is something that is timeless. Years have passed, yet the tea stall has mostly stayed the same. The same metallic kettle, the same khakra biscuits, the same samosas, pohas, etc, to accompany it. One might add that maybe, the Irani/Parsi tea cafes took it to a different level, with the favourites being Goodluck, Vohumen Cafe and others. They were the ones that introduced bun maska with chai, which till today is the best tea experience for most.
The announcement of Starbucks opening its first cafe in Pune, however, has made the community of the coffee lovers abuzz. The Starbucks outlet is set to open on the wonderful main lane of Koregaon Park, which till today has been dominated by multiple CCD outlets (my last count was 4), as the place for having a cup of coffee (which today is used more as part of a pickup line). The opening of Starbucks, the coffee giant of the world, is said to change the definition of the way Punekars see their favourite beverage. Here is a take on the evolution of coffee in Pune.
The age of Filter Coffee:
Coffee came to Pune via the south. Yes, the first real place to serve a cup of coffee and make it our addiction were the Uduppi restaurants. Vaishali, Roopali and other such places were the ones that made coffee a drink to reckon. Their filter coffee is still as much a delight as it was during the time of our grandparents, when it was the hip thing. The restaurants serving filter coffee still exist, accompanied with their dosas, idli sambars, uttappas and sandwiches being the favourite. But, things evolved with time, and the hip shifted to something very different.
The advent of Cafes:
In a time when internet cafes were a rage, came another rage; the real cafes, which served coffee. There were various choices like latte, mocha, decaf, etc. and one was used to customers looking with blank expressions at the board to know which one is the ‘real coffee’. This was the time when Cafe Coffee Day (CCD) became the next big thing. An Indian startup, it went on to become one of the most successful brands; now having over a million outlets all over India. It revolutionised coffee and introduced us to cold coffee (though Durga was introduced us to it first). However, it’s actually commendable that CCD created a name for itself in a world where Durga Cafe (the one which has cashed in on the Durga name), the Original Durga (which has no outlets) and small places offering cold coffee (PD being one, which is now located elsewhere. Do let us know where!) as low as Rs. 15 or Rs.12 (back then, it would be Rs. 10) exist.
The age of overly-expensive coffee:
With CCD, came others big players. Barista, Costa, Aromas, The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf and more. Mocha joined the list too but shifted to hookahs, which took over from there, starting a frenzy of hookah parlours all over town, only to be banned.
Today, coffee is a staple in the office. It is something that wakes us up, something we need to get ourselves out of our procrastination mode, something that rejuvenates us and something that’s plain addictive.
Maybe the introduction of Starbucks will mean an end of an era for most of the above-mentioned coffee hangouts. Or maybe, they will all prevail even, just like they have for so many years. Things will change, however, this cannot be the end. This is India, where some places are frozen in time and still give us a nostalgia of our ancient heritage while some places remind us of the need to change. And this is not any mere Indian city; this is Pune, where the old and the new can co-exist. Where a chaiwalla can operate his tea stall right outside CCD (e.g. the CCD on Law College road), where Vaishali and Roopali still have enough takers even with CCD, Barista and Aromas around. This is Pune, a place of magnificent wadas, sprawling bungalows and high rise societies with thousands of flat owners. I believe, all three can exist at the same time. We never know, we might see an Udupi place serving filter coffee, a CCD/Barista and a Starbucks on the same road, maybe even next to each other. Our coexistence is truly commendable.
Time to have a sip of hot coffee now! Slurrp!
Feature Image Credits:
Left and central Image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/haynes/
Right image: http://statigr.am/totirain