Coffee is no longer just a drink that you have to get rid of the cobwebs of sleep. You can go out for coffee to know somebody better, catch up on coffee with old friends, have a quick coffee break to come back with fresh ideas during a long-drawn team meeting- the list goes on. So, are we particular about what we drink or coffee is more of a culture for millennials? Has our love for coffee undergone a transformation due to the pandemic when most of us were homebound and the coffee shops remained shut?
To understand more about these aromatic beans and what goes into crafting the origins of a perfect brew, we speak to Grace Muivah, who is a hospitality professional and a self-confessed coffee snob. Grace is a first-generation entrepreneur, with her coffee brand ‘Ngarum’ which reflects the premium rich heritage of her homeland, North East. The name ‘Ngarum’, means coming together.
Muivah speaks to us about coffee, café entrepreneurism and everything around it. Some edited snippets.
India has been a predominantly tea-drinking nation, how do you think the Indian coffee consumer has changed over the last decade?
With a lot of coffee brands opened and easily available, people have slowly adapted to the taste and flavor of coffee. It started as a trend but with time it has become a necessity and we have a lot of serious drinkers now. It is continually maturing and evolving, specially the youths choosing coffee houses as places to meet up.
A lot of young coffee drinkers throng at cafes, but to live the culture of meeting friends, hanging out, going for dates. Your views.
Apart from drinking coffee, its a place you catch up with friends to chat, look for entertainment and fill in time. And also because it’s cheaper than hotels. Fancy restaurants and hotels are costlier than cafes in terms of food prices. Youngsters, especially who do not earn, find cafes much affordable.
Does the larger chunk of the coffee-drinking population understand or have interest in that kind of investment towards specialty coffee?
Yes, absolutely! With a lot of people getting into the caffeine routine, you know when you buy one, you want the best. And nothing like micro lots and single origin (types of coffee beans).
With your business venture how are you bringing the Indian coffee farmer closer to the domestic consumer?
It’s important that these farmers gets credit, specially with Nano lot, each and every coffee plant is carefully looked after and cared for. That is why the coffee is distinct in terms of their flavor profile. Whether it’s bad or good harvest, it’s unique and the beans can never go wrong. With speciality coffee and single origin, consumers are keen to know about its origin and its roast profile, which makes them curious as to where it’s grown and harvested.
What are some of the key challenges you faced with coffee brewing in India?
Coffee brewing is still relatively new and a lot of farmers don’t have the machinery to process the beans. The machines are not easily available and most of the good ones are all imported. The expense is very high and so it’s very challenging when it comes to investment.
As a woman entrepreneur what are some of the key challenges you have faced in establishing your venture?
With a lot of established coffee brands, it was challenging to start one, specially in a market like DLF galleria where there are five brands, already. But that is why it was the right place to show how serious we were about our coffee. And how we wanted to stand out serving single origin, nano lot from the hills of North East.
What was your vision for Ngarum when you started and where have you reached with it today?
Ngarum’s vision is to be committed to sharing an extraordinary coffee experience and aspire to be ‘The community place’ that feeds your soul. It has always been about experience, to sit and enjoy your fresh brewed coffee. We wanted to let people taste the freshness and flavour right here and understand this small community set up we have established right here. And that’s the reason we don’t do takeout, we don’t want to compromise on the quality. It’s a specialty coffee, and you want to enjoy it that way. With guest enjoying and coming back to the cafe is what makes us happy. We look forward to setting up more community places like this in the future.
A particular incident which has changed you as a leader?
Everyday is a new day, a new challenge and my team looking up to me is an encouragement. It’s very encouraging when they enjoy their work and perform. As a leader that’s an accomplishment.
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