I grew up in a culture where people indulged in coffee in winter. Pretty much like wearing monkey caps or eating nolen gur (liquid palm jaggery) infused desserts. Rare luxuries. Rest of the 10 months tea ruled the world of Calcuttans. Can’t really remember how I permanently switched to coffee. Must be during those times when all-night studying required extra power. I had started my coffee journey with the classic hand beaten coffee. Mom used to excel in that and she would just use a teaspoon to beat the coffee powder with sugar and a touch of warm milk-water. Not an easy task. It required skills and precision. Besides, Nescafe in those days yielded better taste and aroma than the weak liquid it produces these days. Gradually I parted with milk or creamer in my coffee and started having it black. The taste became refined over the years keeping pace with my lifestyle choices. Now I prefer my coffee (medium-dark roasted beans) black with a sensory stimulating aroma and a strong body with a façade of a fine crema. Less voluminous but not a nude espresso shot. Americano is what they call it, though I upgrade it to long black wherever possible.
Knowing my love for good coffee, a well-known blogger friend had recommended The Café Store to me. My first visit was in late 2017. A very familiar neighbourhood in Golpark- just 10 minutes walk from my old home. It was a residential house with a business space that I frequented at one point of time, though a different business was run by the owners then. The space was put up for rent after the elderly gentleman died. The Café Store came up in 2015, a brainchild of young entrepreneur Indraneil Mallick who wanted to bring European coffee boutique culture to Kolkata. It turned out that I kinda knew him too, being members of the same club. Small world!
The coffee had truly delighted and I was looking for an opportunity to visit again. I now stay in a different part of the city, so it took me a while. A couple of weeks back I had to come to Golpark for a morning meeting and afterwards, I headed to The Café Store. It’s on the lane beside Anjali Jewellers, about 100 mts away. A fresh white façade with viridian green borders, large glass window and the yellow door would remind you of European country cottages. Inside, a tiny space is tastefully decored and smartly utilized keeping in mind comfort level across ages and physical flexibility. The ground floor level has an extended window sill made into seating space, a wooden table with sturdy wooden chairs (my favourite) and an L-shaped couch with a low table. Upstairs (mezzanine floors) has a bit more space and can accommodate groups. There’s a guitar too in case you wanna impress buddies by strumming a few chords or break into Anjan Dutta mode, who in fact visited this café quite a few times. Free wi-fi is provided in case you want to bring your laptop and work.
The ground floor has corner shelves displaying Indian and international brands of artisanal coffee in labelled jars and you can pick your beans and customize the brew. I was surprised to notice super expensive Balinese Kopi Luwak (yes, civet poop coffee) and Jamaican Blue Mountain on the shelves. Indraneil says that this is only place in Eastern India that offers these rare beans. The reason the place is called a store is because you can buy Indian and imported roasted coffee beans as well as coffee making accessories. These have been handpicked from roasters around the world.
The food on the menu is mostly finger food, as coffee is the hero of this place. The guests are encouraged to celebrate coffee. I had already eaten at the meeting, so skipped the food part. I chose Argentine rum roasted beans for my cuppa. And man, what a coffee it was. Full-bodied beast with dark flavours and a bitter heart. Packed with power and will super-charge your brain instantly. A do-gooder hero. I think I am gonna call it Hulk. But fret not if this is not your thing. There are medium and light roasted loaded coffee options as well. So get the balling rolling with a cappuccino or an Irish coffee. You can even get hot chocolates.
Though I missed meeting Indraneil, later I got a chance to chat with him. I was curious what motivated him to come up with this unique concept. He explained that he travelled within and outside the country frequently and was fascinated by the art of good coffee. He was equally disappointed with lack of options in Kolkata which prompted him to start a coffee boutique. His was the first standalone coffee store in Kolkata. Is he now worried about the competition with Starbucks or 8th Day capturing a part of the market? “Not really…” said Indraneil, “a place that runs on the fuel of passion and love will always have its share of customers.” He organizes coffee tasting workshops from time to time to transfer knowledge. He is also working on a plan to open a second outlet having larger space.
It was tremendously good to see this young Bengali entrepreneur braving into the world of start-ups and staying on feet for three years. May The Café Store continue to grow. I will be henceforth a frequent guest at this cosy café and I am hoping you will too drop by for some coffee rendezvous.
The Cafe Store
- Address: 5A, Ballygunge Terrace, Dhakuria, Kankulia, Kolkata, West Bengal 700029
- Phone: 097484 45544
- Location on google map
- Hours: 10 am-10 pm (Sunday-Monday)
- Pocket pinch: Rs 500 (for two)
- Air-conditioned: Yes
- Parking: On the road outside
Text & Images Copyrights: Alokeparna Ghosh 2018