About four years after it served notice to the world by launching its first ever retail store in Paris, the Naandi Foundation-backed Araku Coffee has launched its café and flagship store in Indira Nagar, in Bengaluru. For those who come in late, Araku Coffee is one of the world’s best specialty coffees. Grown by tribals of the Araku Valley in Andhra Pradesh and sold via one of the world’s largest fair-trade and organic certified cooperatives, Araku Coffee is as much a story of sustainability and bio-dynamic farming as it is about fostering rural livelihoods. The Naandi Foundation is now at work trying to replicate the Araku model in other parts of the country such as Vidarbha. What’s the 6000 sq ft cafe like? Let’s take a look.
The cafe is designed by New York-based architect Jorge Zapata and executed in collaboration with Delhi-based Shonan Purie Trehan, of Labwerk. The cafe features a minimalist design language and is driven by the philosophy of sustainability. So, you’ll find bamboo chandeliers, clay planters, recycled metal shelves, among others. On the walls are curated artwork from Mumbai’s Tarq gallery. The ground floor houses the barista bar, cafe, coffee retail, and a book shop, while the first floor offers space for private dining and an outdoor terrace.
The cafe also features India’s first ever Modbar, which, according to the company, “breaks the barriers between baristas and customers and heightens the customer experience, as they are unobstructed by the traditional coffee units that occupy your field of view when being served by the barista”. The plants you’ll find at the cafe are the same ones that grow in the Araku Valley: coffee bushes and plants, pepper, cardamom, vanilla, pineapple, coconut in its infancy, and ferns and orchids.
Besides the in-house roastery, the cafe is also home to the country’s first Specialty Coffee Association certified coffee school. Among others, the school offers The Coffee Skills Program which consists of several modules on brewing, barista skills, green coffee, and sensory skills.
The food on offer is also influenced by the brand’s ethos of respecting produce and the very source of it. So, expect stuff such as hemp seed nankhatai, charred eggplant dolma, cassava burritos, and a sundae made out of passion fruit from the Araku Valley. Along with Araku’s range of coffees — Selection, Signature, Microclimate, and Grand Reserve — you’ll also get to experience intriguing brews such as Chameli Americano, a Nitro Brew, and an affogato, made from the milk of the engendered Vechur cows of Kerala.