Are you curious or serious about your coffee?
I seriously know people in my family and friend circle who are very serious and curious about their coffee. They like to have their cuppas brewed just the way they love it. This is the reason why I say that India is in love with its coffee-houses. From meeting places to blogger meet venues, they make an ideal place for hanging out because we all love to make conversations settled atop comfortable couches over our piping hot cups of coffee. If you love it in winters more, no less, in summers the reinventions that happen with cold beverages prepared from coffee never fail to bring us back to our favorite coffee shop on the lazy afternoon.
Here is an account of my visit to a Costa Coffee outlet where I learnt quite much beyond its Coffee beans…
Costa is one of the UK’s largest and fastest-growing coffee shop brands. In 2005, Costa was the first international coffee chain to start its operations in India. With 2500 outlets located across 28 countries, it currently operates over 100 stores across India. Last Friday evening was all about learning about coffee and smelling it better. I had an opportunity to visit Costa Coffee at their South Extension outlet and learn about the brand and its work closely. With this visit I realized that café business is no less a serious commitment. Making great coffee involves both time and skill. And thus we have ardent coffee lovers.
I visited COSTA with my hubby who is very particular about his coffee and understands it absolutely well. I am not a fussy one as far as coffee should not leave a bitter after-taste and I love it in its cold avatars more. Thus, I was game for tasting the new Costa Ice Shaken that the brand has launched for summers. Of course, the Bagelwich too. Have you eaten it yet? Believe me it tastes yum.
It had rained in Delhi and the roads were choc-a-bloc but thankfully we did not have a hard time making our way from Moti Bagh to South Ex, Part 2. Well, here I must reiterate its Part-II because the one in Part -I where I used to be a regular one is closed temporarily due to the Delhi Metro construction work. Next year both the outlets will be up and working. When we reached the coffee house, we were met by the manager Mr. Rakesh Murli who really came out to be a warm and friendly person. What impressed me was that he knew the brand in and out. He really took us through an interesting journey of the brand and his own. He started his career as a store manager in one of the branches and today he manages all the COSTA COFFEE outlets of South Delhi.
Barista and Barista Maestro
I love to make conversations and that’s what we were here for. So before coffee I wanted to know Costa better. I wanted to educate myself about the people who brew the coffee for us just like the way we love it. Mr. Rakesh helped me with my curiosity. So the first thing I got to know is that a trainee will never brew it for the customers, one who does is called a Barista (you start your coffee making career right from here) who knows his art well. Next when ‘barista’ gets enough experience and qualifies certains levels, Barista is promoted as a ‘Barista Maestro (master)’. The hierarchy leads into a shift manager and then store manager and so on. Every outlet of Costa has 5 team members + 3 managers. Here, the managers have to do all, they work with the team, interact with customers as well as ensure customer satisfaction.
‘Who is the Special Employee here?’
Learning about the Special employees really touched me. I did not know that 15-20 percent of the employees of Costa Coffee are PWD, Persons with Disabilities. These differently-abled people fit in perfectly in certain areas of the operations of the restaurant and nobody but the manager told me that they are very meticulous about their job. The best part is that they are trained and they make great coffee. I could not meet the special employee of South Ex branch (she had left by 8 and I reached at 8-30 p.m.) but I will definitely visit the Green Park outlet soon because I learnt that there the entire team is staffed with special employees. I am curious to meet the staff that runs an coffee outlet absolutely well by interacting with its customers in sign language. If you have been here, do share your experience. Also, if you are yet to visit I would suggest remember to be patient here. Also next time when you visit any of the Costa outlet, you must ask ‘Who is the Special Employee here?’
Later I read about it and learnt that Noid Deaf Society is an NGO that trains people in sign languages to take up jobs in hotels and restaurants. Must say they are doing a great job and brands who are hiring them are making a difference to the society.
ICE-shakers- Ice and milk is shaken and not blended or stirred. Thus, it makes for a healthier option. There are many to choose from. One may pick any among the finest coffee beans- Latte, Espresso Americano, Cappuccino, Mocha, Macchiato, Ristretto, Chai Latte, and Chocolate.
Good Food should always complement the drinks
In Costa, don’t just go for the coffee, the Bagelwich is the next best ‘grab a bite option’. And its not just a bite but quite filling. Made of bagels, these sandwiches are too good in taste. I just loved my order of peri peri chicken Bagelwich. Even hubby relished the vegetarian version. The filling makes for an ultimate taste by melting in the mouth. I ate the baked chicken Roulade too and the sandwiches in pesto sauce were amazing.
Get your drinks customized and feel like home
I say this because I observed the coffee connoisseurs and talked to them also. The regular one’s love coming here again and again because the staff knows their coffee style. Yes, at Costa you can have your complete say in the coffee making. The way you want it, just say it and the staff will help you with light, dark, strong, bitter, less sugar, more sugar, with milk, less milk, soy milk, etc.
When Mr. Sanjeev Gupta walked in the coffee shop, I was just standing at the ordering counter. He was greeted by the employee and he only said- ‘ Make for me and my wife’ . Later I learnt he is an regular here. When I asked him why he loves coming here from Hauz Khas, he was quick to reply- I love the staff here and they make the coffee just I like it. His wife isn’t a great coffee lover but she gives him great company. The cute little kiddo with him, Samudra Gupta (in the picture below) caught my attention for he took much thrill in the running around. He played in the spacious arena of the coffee house just like it was his own house. No wonder he has been coming here since he was 1 year old. Honestly, it was a tough task taking this picture because it was hard to make him stand still. Thank God he agreed to pose with the cup. I absolutely loved his naughtiness. Reminded me of free days and childhood.
After some lovely conversations with hubby, we wrapped up our coffee date with this mango dessert. It was just the right one for me because I love mangoes and everything that extends its taste. There are some more versions of Bagelwiches to be tried, I will be back soon. Not to forget the Ice-shakers as well.
My visit to COSTA COFFEE can be perfectly summarized by the line below though I missed the lavish book store which South Ex Part 1 outlet had. This one did have bookshelf to itself but too less books to boast of. I was told that only biographies and autobiographies are allowed in Costa bookshelves now. Any reasons? Yes, there is. Will explore and then talk about it.
Do share your coffee tales? How particular are you about your cuppa?
On twitter @manjulika5