There is a fine line between being a coffee aficionado and a coffee connoisseur, and nobody represents that line better than 34-year-old-Matt Chitharanjan. Born and brought up in Wisconsin, Matt and his wife Namrata opened their first roastery-cum-café in South Delhi last year. Blue Tokai — a café where coffee lovers (and not caffeine junkies) can indulge in consuming coffee brewed from freshly roasted beans across various estates in the country – has now thrown its doors open to the citizens of aamchi Mumbai as well.
(Left-right) The first step of the roasting process; an attendant whips up Coffee Tonic; Coffee Tonic
"Tokai literally refers to the tail of the peacock, in old Malabari culture," reveals Chitharanjan, as he carefully adjusted the filter paper on his coffee machine in an effort to obtain particle-free coffee. "It (the name) reflects the origin of our coffee." Blue Tokai source their coffee from 10 estates spread across regions of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh. They roast the beans at their café. "We develop different profiles for strains coming in from different estates and then roast them; each profile brings out an inherent and unique flavor to the coffee," he pointed out.
The café, which is still putting final touches on its outlet in the Shakti Mills lane in Mahalaxmi, will whip up eleven brews. The Coffee Tonic (Rs 200), a definite hit during Mumbai’s humid summers, is a concoction prepared without milk. Cold, refreshing, and without the compromise of diluted flavor (as in the case of many so-called cold coffees), this drink served with tonic water is bound to quench your thirst, as well as trigger an endorphin release in your brain, putting a wide smile across your face on a muggy day. "Pour overs (Rs 140) take two-and-a-half minutes to brew; it has a clean flavour owing to the use of a filter paper that absorbs the small coffee particles," said Matt, gently removing the filter paper off the machine, and pouring his own into a mug. "You can literally taste the flavour of the estate."
Matt Chitharanjan seated on sacks of coffee beans. PIC/Bipin Kokate
According to him, people are looking for alternative places to chain outlets like Starbucks and Café Coffee Day, where coffee is not necessarily the USP. "Instead of focusing on running a nice café, we focus on serving nice coffee." True enough, the people visiting the café for a cup of coffee or simply out of curiosity, were far from your average overly-chatty hipster crowd. Instead, their questions to the friendly guy brewing their fix behind the counter would leave any Starbucks helper bamboozled. "Blue Tokai will have its official Mumbai launch on August 1; we will be trying out food options this weekend, which will include the likes of sandwiches, desserts, and some quiche," he informs, adding that the place was not big enough to fit in a full-scale kitchen. Coffee, anyone?
AT Unit 20/22, Laxmi Woollen Mill, opposite Khazana furniture, Shakti Mill Lane, off Dr E Moses Road, Mahalaxmi.
TIME 10 am onwards