Coffee and friends make the perfect blend. In December 2004, when Gaurav Narang started the revolutionary cafe culture in Surat, he knew his cafe will witness a number of stories unfold there. Unlike most new ventures which start out small and then decide where to take it, Gaurav had ambitious plans for Coffee Culture right from the very start. No wonder then that today he has close to sixteen outlets across India, from Bandra to Jaipur to Navsari to name just a few. Here is a brief account of his remarkable journey:
It all began when, Gaurav – only a college student pursuing graduation with his childhood friends – fell in love with the cafe and barista culture in Pune. Relishing their own time that they spent drinking what Gaurav calls ‘real coffee’, they were inspired to bring that same spirit home. And that’s how they started their own cafe/lounge in Surat which later Gaurav took forward. But he soon realized that his dreams were probably too big to fit in Surat’s shoes. When people first walked in asking “Nescoffee, hai kya?”, he knew he’d had his task cut out for him. But this did not deter him one bit. In fact, he took the challenge head-on and has even stood behind the counters educating people about espressos in its initial days. Since the inception, its been strong 13 years of the brand in the market, as superior café lounges with quirky ambiance & lively atmosphere. The beauty of the concept is that one can casually dine any time of the day. They serve as the ideal place for everyday hangouts, for all segments of the crowd.
Fresh Things Brewing:
It all seemed to have paid off well because Coffee Culture soon became the standard answer every time someone asked: “Kahaan milna hai?” What makes it so different from other cafes, apart from its rich delectable coffee, is its drool-worthy food. Its burgers then, to the sizzlers now, came in as saviors from the stone cold plastic wrapped food in the display, that most people otherwise had to have in cafes. Gaurav’s quirky selection of drinks to the elaborate menu always managed to create such an electric atmosphere during the evenings; it could cheer up someone even on the worst of their days. Eventually, it became this fun, lively ambiance of the cafe that Surtis began to love. It wasn’t only the Surtis, Gaurav found a way for the locals to connect to the cafe by infusing the local culture with the vibe of Coffee Culture, at every place that the outlet was opened. In Jaipur, it is the palatial theme infused with an industrial undertone while in Navsari, he brings the quirk by adding lots of Persian elements owing to the Parsi culture prevalent there. The outlet in Baroda doubles up as an art exhibition space, whereas the one in Kadodra brings in the highway feel inside that cafe too.
Soaking it all in:
If you have been in this city during the last ten to thirteen years, it is almost unlikely that Coffee Culture has not been a part of your social life. Be it for the nervous coffee dates or client meetings or to celebrate birthdays, there was always a reason to go back to this place.
Despite having scaled all these achievements, its Gaurav’s humility that remains his strongest suit. After sixteen successfully running outlets, six of them opened only in the last three months, he still feels like a newcomer to this business each time. Still just as eager to learn and experiment like the young boy who borrowed some money from his father and opened what was only the beginning of a minor cafe revolution in Surat.