Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Kaapi and the Café

My last visit to the Café Coffee Day (CCD) was eventful. Not that it was filled with events, but so many interesting things went over my head and there seemed to be no end to it. I did leave with disturbing questions though.

First was the business model of CCD. I thought it was rather bold of CCD to have started and created a lifestyle over coffee in India. I mean, if you exempt cities like Bangalore and Bombay and take a look at tier-II cities, CCDs are pretty much considered as one of THE ‘hip’ places for youngsters to go. It was like this opportunity was waiting to be captured for a long time.

Second was the pricing adopted by these coffee chains. I guess they would’ve done a proper market study and all, but I don’t really know if the prices are justified. Given the time people spend in such cafés, it’s understandable that prices have to be somewhere high up, but cosmetic versions of coffee and cold drinks at 40 bucks? I’m not sure. But then, if coffee over book-reading and wireless internet browsing is what they are planning to offer, they better price it high. I somehow believe a kind of differential pricing – depending on the cities – would be a good idea. While coffee for 40 bucks might not be a big deal in Bangalore, I guess it’s a big deal in tier-II cities. [I’m not entirely sure if isn’t done though.]

Third was the most interesting. Over a question of which ‘version/flavor’ of coffee everyone liked, my friends differed. Some opted for Irish coffee, some for Hot Chocolate, but I digressed. The best coffee I’ve ever had was the South Indian Kaapi in the Sagars – Shanthi Sagar etc - in Bangalore. One of my colleagues introduced me to the ethereal taste of those kaapis, and we became very, very regular visitors to those Sagars. Ofcourse, additional business of much larger value - like dinners and lunches - flowed to them, all because of our love for their kaapi. That kaapi was THE best because it was served real hot and had the 3 ingredients that we’ve heard in the ‘3 Roses’ tea ads – Niram, Thidam and Suvai in Tamil, roughly translated to color, kick and taste. Simply put, the kaapi was just perfect. The nearest competitor was the morning coffee that accompanies The Hindu in many of the South Indian homes.

Although the Sagar Kaapi used to cost just around five bucks, we sure wouldn’t have minded paying much more. It was worth the money and the long walks amidst office time. Those being the best coffee – atleast according to me, the coffee I pay the most for are the ones at CCD. So, my doubt is why the typical South Indian coffee is never available in any of these modern coffee chains. It sounds perfect – best hot coffee at the costliest price. It could be disguised in one of those hip names – like Coorg Dew Coffee or something – and priced similar to the entry level ones. I know a bunch of people who would surely visit CCDs and Baristas much more frequently just for this type of coffee. It’s like Bangalore’s tasty trademark coffees being made national. With their infrastructure, having one more option in their menu wouldn’t require much of an effort. If it’s so simple, why haven’t they done it yet?

11 Comments:

At Wednesday, November 02, 2005 5:50:00 PM, Blogger Kaps said...

part of the cost is towards the coffee and part of its is for the ambience. I read that Nilgiri's Coffee Shops will be selling Filter Kaapi in a modern setting.

 
At Wednesday, November 02, 2005 10:22:00 PM, Blogger ada-paavi!!!! said...

filter kapis at these places wont work. when the best coffee is sold at Rs 5 why wud u pay Rs 50 for it?? when u order irish coffee or something there, all the close substitutes cost roughly the same amount, a frappe costs somwhere beterrn 50-70 bucks, which ever chain, and not cheaper than that, therefore the consumer is willing to pay the amount. but when it somes to the filter kaapi, at homes its there, in coffee shops for between 5-10 bucks. the ambience part comes along with which ever coffee u drink, therefore a consumer will not go for the filter kaapi. in this analysis i assume a rational consumer, u due to ur taste preferences mite buy that, so ur an exception to the rule

 
At Wednesday, November 02, 2005 11:52:00 PM, Blogger Govar said...

@Kaps: Good news abt Nilgiris. I know abt the pricing part, but I feel it doesnt take care of the city purchasing power difference. The willingness of consumers to spend 40 bukcs in say Bangalore vis-a-vis Indore or Coimbatore might differ to a huge extent. So a little lesser amount would be great. Thats my take.

@Vatsan: I beg to differ. Everyone knows home made dosas are the tastiest, healthiest and cheapest :) But still dosas everywhere from road corner shops to 5-star hotels sell. Similar is the case with fruit juices. Even packaged products like Pepsi and Coke which are literallly the same sell at different prices just inside a multiplex and outside the same multiplex. And yes, to an extent it might matter, but not if its disguised in some other name and form.

 
At Thursday, November 03, 2005 12:12:00 AM, Anonymous Vijetha said...

I think it's in the psyche of the consumer too...One may not b really willing to spend so much on a filter kaapi..besides it may not even sound very appealing to visit CCDs for a filter coffee n.. may b CCDs also do not want to dilute their brand...n abt price,why jus coffee...thr's a chain of tea shops comin up fast in here.."Passion-my cup of tea"..we thot n times if a glass of tea no matter what it was called...grape tea, chai mocha etc etc was worth spending 40+ bucks!!

 
At Thursday, November 03, 2005 12:20:00 AM, Blogger Govar said...

@Vijetha: Im not sure abt the psyche. Someone in a different blog had a mention that people wouldn't go on a date to a shop selling traditional south indian food in a banana leaf. Similar is the case here. I guess 'packaging' the same coffee in a different name, some transy glasses would do a long way to achieve the necessary 'hip'ness of the coffee. Nonetheless, lets wait and see how the filter coffee from Nilgiris fare. Im on the optimistic side. :)

 
At Thursday, November 03, 2005 12:29:00 PM, Blogger Krish said...

Hi Govar,
it is nice man...but how do find time man...i too want to post such stuff in my blog...anyway thats good that u have time to spend for yourself.Keep posting
Krishna

 
At Thursday, November 03, 2005 12:39:00 PM, Blogger Govar said...

@Krishna: Well, I dont think time is a problem for anyone. :) ITs the motivation part. For me, blogging is a break and I kinda enjoy it. So I'll do it as long as its enjoyable...

 
At Thursday, November 03, 2005 1:11:00 PM, Anonymous Kevin said...

Hey Govar,
Did u notice the T-shirt sponsors for the srilankan team? they serve similar stuff and exotic varieties, the idea boils down to "serving authentic coffee at comtemporary ambience" isnt it? thats what they offer. they have opened stores in chennai and have aggressive expansion plans in the offing.

 
At Thursday, November 03, 2005 1:15:00 PM, Blogger Govar said...

Surprise that Kevin can speak in a decent language. ;-)

 
At Friday, November 04, 2005 9:42:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well! Kevin can reply decently for non-hypocritical thoughts and views.

 
At Friday, November 04, 2005 10:03:00 AM, Blogger Govar said...

Classic case of irony? A dyed-in-the-wool hypocrite can't stand hypocracy? ;-)

 

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