India Coffee House (ICH) on Ambedkar Road in Bengaluru got a refreshing makeover in its golden jubilee year, and is seeking to attract a younger clientele.
Started in 1972, the ICH inside the Coffee Board of India premises had been a favourite joint for customers from Vidhana Soudha, High Court and adjacent government and private offices.
The Board, which manages the ICH, took up the renovation of the facility that could suit the younger generation, not merely the old customers.
While the furniture remains the same, the walls, ceiling and the lighting arrangements have been improved.
Further, sitting arrangements have been made on the verandah of the ICH in the midst of greenery overseeing Ambedkar Road and the imposing Visvesvaraya Tower.
On Monday, the Additional Secretary in the Department of Commerce Rajesh Agrawal and the Coffee Board Chief Executive Officer Dr K G Jagadeesha inaugurated the renovated ICH facility.
"To modernise and to accommodate more coffee lovers, Coffee Board has initiated steps to renovate the ICH two months back," Jagadeesha told PTI.
The Board undertook the remodelling of the ICH at a cost of approximately ₹22 lakh lakh, he said.
A new section to serve coffee prepared by different brewing methods has also been added in the renovated structure.
"Our regular staff and the menu will remain the same. Coffee, dosa, idli, sandwich will remain the same. To attract the younger generation, we have tied up with 'Mitti Café'. It is a social kind of cause. They are going to serve a menu, which we are not serving till now, such as the espresso coffee and the fast food kind of thing,” Jagadeesha said.
The Coffee Board decided to take up renovation work to retain its legacy.
"This (renovation) we did because it (ICH) is a Coffee Board initiative and there is a legacy behind all these coffee houses. We don’t want that legacy to disappear and that’s why we needed to renovate and establish a connect with the newer generations," Agrawal told PTI.
According to him, there are no plans as of now to expand the ICH in view of the huge growth in the private sector.
"There are Café Coffee Day, Barista and other coffee houses. I think, as a government, we should promote the private sector to do this in a much better way. The idea is not to get into the market and be a coffee provider to the people. Rather, just remain a catalyst and let the private sector grow," Agrawal said.
However, Agrawal said the revamping of ICH at other locations in the country can be taken up based on the experience from the Bengaluru ICH experiment.
According to a Coffee Board statement, the ICH chain was started by the Coffee Cess Committee of Indian Coffee Board and the first outlet was opened in Churchgate, in the erstwhile Bombay during 1936.
During the 1940s there were nearly 50 Coffee Houses all over British India. The prime agenda of these ICHs was to promote 100 per cent pure coffee without chicory.
"Even though coffee had been grown by Indians since the 16th century, the idea of coffee houses was new at the time as coffee brewing was known as a premium and costly beverage. The concept of ICH soon gained popularity, and in the late 1940s and early '50s there were about 72 outlets across India,” the statement said.
Until 1996 the Coffee Board was empowered with procurement and sale of Indian coffee. Entire production in India was marketed only through the Coffee Board. However, from 1996 Free Sale Quota (FSQ) was introduced and growers were in liberty to sell their produce directly to the purchaser.
Further, in continuation to this system the Coffee Board was restricted and the staff strength was reduced to 1,093 from approximately 3,000 employees. Due to this, the number of ICH units were reduced and currently there exists only 11 ICH units across India. These ICHs are currently managed by the Promotion Department of Coffee Board, according to the statement.