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Coffee lounge: Redefining beverage binge

From roadside stalls to coffee bar, India's coffee culture comes a long way. The latest to emerge are coffee lounges.

india Updated: Apr 05, 2006 19:24 IST
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From roadside stalls and government run coffee homes to swanky branded coffee bars, Coffee culture in India has come a long way. The latest to emerge are 'Coffee Lounges', which offer comfort, ambience and space, while catering to the evolving taste of customers.

Concentrated to a few five-star hotels till recently, big coffee houses are now planning to open coffee lounges across the country.

Cafe Coffee Day, which already has over 30 Coffee Lounges out of its 287 outlets, plans to open 20 more in a couple of months. "We are concentrating mainly on Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore," says Sudipta Sen Gupta, Head of Marketing at Cafe Coffee Day.

Barista, which presently operates four lounges, which it calls the 'creme format', also plans to open about 20 more in the near future. And Coffee World, which has entered the Delhi market only a couple of weeks back, is already scouring for five more properties in South Delhi alone for its Trademark Lounges.

"The demand of customers increases over a period of time, and the lounge concept is the next logical step in trying to retain and attract new customers," says Sucha Mehra, Marketing Head, Barista.

"It is an emerging concept in the country," says Parag Dutta, COO, Coffee World. "The thrust is on comfort and satisfaction, with comfortable seating, wide space, Wi-Fi connection and subtle music."

"Also, unlike self-service in normal espresso bars, we take orders, and the food and drinks are prepared on the spot, which means they are fresh and can be customised according to the customer's wish," he adds.

But are they just targeting premium palates with premium pricing? No, says Sucha Mehra, who maintains that the difference in price with normal bars is just 10-15 per cent, and 45-50 per cent of their clients consist of "students and pre-working post teens."

Sudipta also feels that with the kind of service being provided and high investment needed (a Lounge can be around 15-20,000 sq feet in size as compared to around 8000 sq feet for a normal espresso bar), a difference of Rs. 5-10 for a drink should not be considered premium.

Parag, on the other hand, says that the majority of their clients are middle-aged professionals who are financially well-off.

This is part of the reason why the ambience of the lounges are very subtle and sobre, instead of blasting loud music.

But he adds that they are trying to attract younger crowds, which is why they selected someone like Esha Deol, who "represents the younger generation", as a brand ambassador.

The ambience is definitely what clients prefer today, says Sudipta. "During our college days, we would be satisfied drinking coffee in the canteen or the roadside dhaba, but young people today want a posh environment to chill out."

Whether it's the drink or the ambience, our main aim is to provide satisfaction to our clients when they come to us, says Parag. "In the end, it's just about having a cup of coffee at a nice place."