Thursday, May 28, 2009

A cup of honest brew

A cup of honest brew
Madhuri Kalyan
Thursday, May 28, 2009, 1:00 [IST]

The Indian Coffee House, re-opened its doors at a different location, after closing down for a short while. Metrolife finds out what has changed

On a walk down M G Road, one sorely misses the hustle bustle at the Coffee House, that was once the most prominent landmark on the road.

Instead, you see a large door adorned with a lock, as though to signify the end of a 50-year-old Bangalore culture.

And there was an outrage alright, by media and citizens. Save Indian Coffee House, a Facebook group, consisting of around 570 members, also made attempts to retain their favourite hangout. The hue and cry of the coffee loyalist sure didn’t go waste as they got themselves a brand new location for themselves barely 30 meters away, at Brigade Gardens, Church Street, and viola! the new incarnation of The Indian Coffee House was born.

And as you enter the place, you hear the same clanging of glasses and the rich aroma of freshly brewed coffee, that drew tourists from far and wide. Susie, a student from Chicago, sits down on the same plank benches, and awaits her coffee, while flipping through the Lonely Planet. “When I came to Bangalore, I looked for the Coffee House as it was mentioned in the Lonely Planet, but was disappointed to see the ‘shut down’ sign. But two days back, I found out, it was just shifted and was thrilled, and have been coming here very regularly ever since,” she says.

The first Indian Coffee Workers Co-Operative Society was founded in Bangalore on August 19, 1957. The 50 year old Indian Coffee House at M G Road closed on April 5 this year, after the Indian Coffee Workers' Cooperative Society Limited lost a legal battle with the owner of the building to continue in the premises.

So now that they have moved after a 50 year gap, what has changed in the new avatar of Coffee House? Not much, the menu remains the same, so do the prices, except, the famous coffee now costs Rs 9 instead of Rs 8. “The quality of food is as delicious, if not better, the dosa is crisper, and thank god, they retained those old pictures, which ensures that the old world charm stays within the four walls, so what if the walls have changed,” says Chetan, a doctor.

But not everybody agrees that the Coffee House has changed for the better. Says Trupti Naik, a manager, “I am still a little apprehensive, the newly-painted walls, and the old benches here make this place look like a classroom, so although the food is exactly the same, am not sure about the ambience.”

But B H Gundaih, the cashier, who has worked at the Indian Coffee House for the past 20 years, is positive, the business is as good as ever, “although we just opened two days back, without any notice or publicity, the restaurant has been full. We are really happy to see a lot of our regulars back, moreover, the place is easier to maintain, and we re-employed all our staff, almost all of those who have worked here for 20 years,” he says.

And sure enough, the same waiters, adorned in white uniforms with white and red turban, go about from table to table, stopping at times, without even asking for the order, but simply bringing the ‘regular’ for the ‘regulars’.

“It’s hard to find places like these, the City is infested with commercial coffee outlets, which I am tired of. I would always want to come back to places like these at the end of the day, and have cup of honest brew,” sums up Susie, vowing to return as soon as possible.


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