News / Asia

India Coffee Culture Brewing as Tea Holds Ground

A local tea vendor makes coffee at his shop in Mumbai, India. Starbucks will open its first outlet in India by September through a 50-50 joint venture with Tata Global Beverages.
A local tea vendor makes coffee at his shop in Mumbai, India. Starbucks will open its first outlet in India by September through a 50-50 joint venture with Tata Global Beverages.

India is traditionally a tea-drinking country.  But it is now acquiring a taste for coffee, prompting global coffee chains to eye the huge market.  And local entrepreneurs are also hoping to cash in on the country’s tea-drinking habits by opening new outlets to promote the beverage.

It is just 10:30 in the morning, but two cafés located within meters of each other, opposite a college in New Delhi, are doing brisk business.  Their main customers - undergraduate students.

In the past decade, India’s huge young population has quickly embraced a coffee culture as cafés become the hip and convenient place to spend time.

The result - coffee chains have expanded fast and furiously, fanning out from big metros like New Delhi and Mumbai to small towns and highways.

Coffee consumption has doubled in the last 10 years.

It is the promise of this market that is luring chains like American-based Starbucks to enter India. It will open its first outlets here, later this year. In addition to domestic chains, Lavazza and Costa Coffee are already present.

The head of India Coffee Trust, Anil Kumar Bhandari, says Starbucks will come to a country where cafés have become central to the lifestyle of young, middle-class Indians as incomes grow and global trends catch on.

“They should have been here before...  Almost any café chain which has a reasonable quality with its service, ambiance and food, and coffee first, will succeed in this country.  Because look at the young population, [it] is growing and they are all taking to it like ducks to water,” Bhandari said.

But coffee’s growing popularity does not mean that tea, which Indians have consumed for more than 150 years, is moving over.

India is one of the world’s major tea-growing countries and a cup of “chai,” as it is known locally, is hugely popular. Indians consume eight times more tea than coffee.

But outside homes and offices, it is mostly sold by street vendors. And that is what entrepreneurs like Amuleek Singh Bijral hope to change.  The 36-year-old Harvard graduate has opened a tea retail chain in the southern information technology hub, Bangalore, called Chai Point.  These are not upscale cafes, but offer customers more affordable tea in what Bijral calls a clean and hygienic environment.

Instead of cappuccinos, lattés and espressos, they sell lemon tea, iced green tea or masala chai - tea cooked with spices.  It is often served in glasses instead of cups, the way many Indians have it at home.

In less than a year, 14 Chai Points have mushroomed in the city.  They are not competing for image with cafés because, as Bijral points out, “chai” is the common man’s beverage.

“You can not [over] price it.  You can not give it an elitist twist.  We are very clearly not a high-street phenomenon.  We are not a mall phenomenon," Bijral noted. "We do not think that is the mass of India, so we very clearly have defined our sweet spot where we say we are going to target the working Indian and serve people who are in the habit of drinking 'chai' three to four times a day.”

Another entrepreneur has launched a similar tea venture in the northern city, Jaipur. Thirty-year-old Manasi Chadha in Bangalore welcomes these outlets.

“Drinking tea is a kind of in-home kind of thing, out-of-home options like this are new.  Especially since coffee-drinking has boomed in the last couple of years," Chadha said. "This is a little different.”

And as health becomes high on the agenda of many consumers, the tea restaurants hope to quietly stress the advantage of a beverage that is low on caffeine and high on antioxidants.

Business analysts say it is not a case of coffee or tea.  They say that in a country where half the billion-plus population is under 25, both cafés and tea points will find plenty of room to grow.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Srebrenica Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs countermeasure at UN More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prisoni
X
Heather Murdock
July 01, 2015 8:59 PM
As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs