Chocolate, fruit, lemon and citrus or caramel: myriad tenets of coffee are finding their place in the sun thanks to four young raring-to-go coffee-preneurs - Mihir and Mithun Rebello and couple Ganga Prabhakar and Pavan Hanbal, thanks to their spiffy new coffee roastery and tasting room - The Coffee Mechanics at HBR Layout.
These coffee planters decided to go straight from belief to single house blends because quite frankly, single origin coffee is the new norm for the bean and brew follower. What makes their place different from other roasteries and coffee cafes is that their coffee is made of ripe, blushing red beans, perfectly ripened and straight from origin. It is a labour of love, so the taste notes come together beautifully. Customised coffee, roasted fresh, it is literally harvest to cup!
Celebrating the bean that each one has imbibed since childhood growing up amidst robusta and arabica in Chikmagalur, the single origin coffees come from Mihir and Mithun's estate - Kuttinkhan and from Ganga and Pavan's estates - Bhadrapura and Srilakshmi.
"Our plan is to cut costs to make quality coffee accessible to everyone. Quality shouldn't be a luxury when ours is a coffee producing country," explain Mihir and Ganga. Their price point fits in perfectly with this and a cuppa doesn't cost about the same as a mini meal: Prices start at Rs 140.The idea is also to bring value to all parts of the coffee supply chain to make it more sustainable.
So what can one discover in that steaming cuppa of aromatic brew? "Apart from the house blend for espresso-based drinks, and our South Indian filters, we sell single estate, Bhadrapura Estate's cinnamon roast and Vienna roast, Srilakshmi Estate's cinnamon and American roast and Kuttinkan estate's American roast currently through Amazon as well," say Pavan and Ganga.
Through various processes that brew, filter and refine taste, one's choices are varied: the espresso (a tad bitter for us), a refined French press with smoother notes or a punchy manual espresso. You can even go eclectic with pour-overs, aeropress, siphon, moka and the very dear tumbler of pilter kappi. And there's no chicory in any of it. We were told that a couple from Manyatha picked up a pack, and were back the next day for more.
Dressed in brown, glass and black, with quaint, boxy and wodden bar stools, it could fit in just as well on a cobbled street of an Italian village. A bespectacled Mihir blends his roast as Ganga and Pavan lovingly explain the encyclopaedia that coffee encompasses. We have Mihir's course in Treiste and the couple's local learnings for bringing this tasting room to life!
They call it the art of coffee engineering and let's be clear, it's not for everybody. Still, those who proudly down an espresso with gusto or love a sponge cappuccino can revel in it - we were told that an Italian lady who never orders espresso in India was cajoled into one courtesy Pavan. She was a happy customer, for she ordered two!
These artisan roasters are thrilled to find that their house blend is already seeing repeat customers. "The choice of roast is our strength as we want to cater to different palates," Ganga adds.
The café serves the wonderfully popular Mazagran, a splash of espresso, infused with citrus flavours and served on ice with a dash of sweet. It's what an Old Bengalurean would call the "Coffee sulaimani" and it's wonderful with distinctive and strong tenets and a wholesome, sweet, lemony punch for those who find espresso a bit too strong. There's also Bombon, lemony black and the Vietnamese cold coffee. We tried the Affogato, a very breakfast-like sundae of vanilla icecream, topped with a robust douse of espresso, granola and muesli: very good. It was interesting, and delicious. Perfect for a pick-me-up in the morning, trying it in the evening might make you somewhat antsy!
There are individual bites to go with the coffee too. We crunched on a stuffed bread roll, crisply-fried and served with a side of Thousand Island dressing, the perfect accompaniment to our cappuccino. We also want to come back for their sumptuous English breakfast. There are fresh paninis and Chicken Sliders as well. The Coffee-preneurs are slowly trying to bring in more quick bites that complement their brew so the menu needs a bit of a rejig, and more options. Still, coffee is the real deal here… and from the looks of it, perfect for the weather and high in quality.
"We wanted to democratise coffee, and give it origin and identity," says Mihir, adding, "There is no end to learning - wine has 300-odd chemical in composition, but coffee, when roasted has upwards of 1,600! Using machines like gas chromatographers, one can separate each note - grape fruit, lemon, even onion!"
The cubby hole for bean and brew is getting takers, for its coffee, a small bite, and they promise to add more to an evolving menu. this is for purely coffee connoisseurs, and when the aroma of the freshly handcrafted coffee hits you, you're cuppa gets a bouquet of flavours, making even a tea-drinker something of a believer....