To say Bangalore’s startup community loves their coffee is an understatement. Proof of this can be easily found on Twitter.
To many of us, coffee is not just a beverage, but a sentiment, a feeling, an experience and also a motivator or just meditation in a cup. Research suggests that coffee lovers enjoy their caffeine for various reasons and the pandemic just made us realise how much our coffee-love is about being social and having great conversations beyond just being a tool to wake us up.
We couldn’t resist therefore, and had to dig in and ask Founders about their coffee sentiments and figured, they are strong indeed.
“Coffee improves Productivity”
Prasanna Sivan, co-founder and CEO of Rescue Roadside Assistance starts his day with a cup of black coffee, he brews for himself. He confesses how his morning cuppa awakens his senses and jump-starts his day, quite literally. His coffee ritual is to take a deep smoke along with his coffee to add a dual punch. Prasanna is a regular at the Coffee Day on Richmond Road (near his office) and believes there is ‘nothing like a bad cup of coffee.’
It was during the pandemic that Prasanna realised how much he likes his coffee, but also enjoys having people around and not in isolation. As they worked out of home, he had several conversations with his team about how coffee is about a vibe, positive energy and stirs great ideas and not just a beverage we love. When we asked him what his coffee motto is, he said, “coffee improves productivity” – and while we are still looking for data to support this, we will take Prasanna’s word for it, since coffee does bring out strong emotions.
“My brain is not braining”
Meghana Srinivas, Founder of Trustin, is a thorough coffee-lover. Her coffee habit started at the University of Berkeley, where coffee was more of a ‘communal thing’ and community connections and networking for students happened over coffee.
A self-confessed coffee addict, she developed acid reflux at 25 and has moved to cold brews since. During the pandemic, coffee has been her solace and meditation, as she takes the Headspace Coffee Walks for 10 minutes everyday. Says Meghana, “Coffee is brain juice and there was this one time when I was really tired and I told my friends that my brain is not braining, unless I can have coffee.”
It doesn’t stop there. During a rural immersion trip to Tamil Nadu a few years ago, Meghana and a fellow Founder friend craved coffee so much that they carried instant coffee sachets only to realise that the villagers lacked the right equipment to heat water. Turns out they (the villagers) had prepared idlis for breakfast and Meghana and her friend used the warm water used to prepare idlis for their coffee! Talk about coffee addiction taken to a new level.
Raising the Bar
Vardhman Jain, co-founder of Bonomi, started home brewing his coffee at 18. He has worked with several corporates and startups including Uber and that brought him from Delhi to Bangalore. It was here that he observed that the filter coffee and Third Wave* revolution co-exist (this is not the coffee shop, but a coffee wave) and he was intrigued by the various brewing methods introduced by Third Wave (the-cafe) that he started working with them over weekends.
One thing led to another and his friend Armaan Reet spoke about launching Bonomi, a house of beverages that includes non-alcoholic, ready to drink and design forward beverages and Vardhman joined as co-founder and Head of Operations. Bonomi was recently trending on Twitter as they created a Hazelnut Cold Coffee Brew with a #CongratulationsSuhasMotwani hashtag (for those who don’t know #CongratulationsSuhasMotwani was a trending hashtag on Twitter for many days; where almost everyone on Twitter was congratulating Suhas for something they had no idea about.)
This quirky marketing ploy has now led Bonomi to partner with The Product Folks, a product community started by Suhas Motwani, where they will be launching more products together in the future.
Wakefulness by Coffee
Saurabh Arora, co-founder of Plum, is a coffee encyclopaedia. His tryst with coffee started during an internship in Turin, Italy where after lunch students went on to have an espresso ritual. It continued when Saurabh went to Germany for his PhD and he had his “first very good” latte in a neighbourhood cafe in Neukölln, Berlin. That changed his interpretation of coffee and it was also the inspiration to look for that latte experience in India as well.
Saurabh, then graduated to bulletproof coffee (powerhouse cup of coffee that is complementary to several ways of eating, including the paleo, low-carb and ketogenic diets, as well as intermittent fasting and OMAD (One Meal a Day)), during his intermittent fasting days. Post which, he was yet again introduced to a new kind of coffee – Turkish coffee that he just cannot forget (he is still looking for places to buy this in India).
To Saurabh, while coffee is about instant conversations, it is more about ‘wakefulness’ – a term popularized by Nathaniel Kleitman, the dean of American Sleep Science – simply put, it is a state of being wide awake and a way to kick start your day. Says Saurabh, sometimes I am late for my morning weeklys that start at 9:00am as “I am brewing myself a wakeful cup of coffee, a ritual I cannot miss, and my team knows that.”
“Coffee is synonymous to the Third Space”
As a Design Founder and a new parent, Rahul Gonsalves, Founder and CEO of Obvious has a reasonably chaotic life. To him, coffee brings consistency, certainty and a certain semblance to life at the moment. He believes there is an overlap between designers and coffee as they both have to ‘get’ the process and certain rituals are associated with the way they work.
Further, he talks about how this coffee connection is deepened in Bangalore, where coffee shops play the role of the third space (a place that is neither home nor office – coffee shops seem to be a top favourite because they satisfy almost all the criteria of a perfect ‘third place’: welcoming and comfortable, presence of food and drink, highly accessible, and visited by like-minded people). Over the past 15 years, there were literally three waves of third spaces – Coffee Day on Brigade Road, Costa Coffee in Koramangala and now Third Wave Coffee shops that have almost become memes to signify the tech0-cultural coffee connection in Bangalore.
So, you see coffee is really not a beverage – it is an excuse. A feeling, a sentiment, an emotion, and sometimes just a state of being. Funny how just a cup of this beverage can stir so many feelings- but now we know better why Founders in Bangalore are all about hyper-growth – they just love their coffee and in some cases revere it.
Early-stage founder working out of a coffee shop? Check out Plum Lite – a health benefits product for small teams, starting at ₹85.
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