The post Independence history of India will be incomplete without a mention of the story of Indian Coffee House, in Connaught Place Delhi. The Indian coffee house, in Mohan Singh Place, is one of the 400 coffee houses, run by the Indian Coffee Worker’s Cooperative Society, in several parts of the country. Waiters in white uniform, headgears and matching bandanas, the piping hot coffee is symbolic of every coffee house.
An Old-timers testimony
“I have been coming in this Coffee House for 50 years, since 1971. This is one of the best places in whole world.” Says Mr Rajan, an Advocate. “And many dignitaries used to come here like Inder Kumar Gujral, Vishnu Prabhakar. Many celebrities used to come here, and they used to gain inspiration from this place only. In 1971 there were two places. One was at the Palika Kendra and other was this one. When market was erected in 1977, all the people came to this place. “
The entire Palika Bazaar that we know now was once The Indian Coffee house frequented by intellectuals, writers, journalists and politicians discussing hot topics. Nine Prime Ministers visited here.
The stalwart customers
The story of the Indian Coffee House is incomplete without the metion of the stalwarts who associated with this iconic place. The Staff say Indira Gandhi’s breakfast went from here after inspection by a doctor. And one the former Staff used to go to her house to prepare the Filter coffee decoction.
It is not an exaggeration to say that the Coffee at the Indian Coffee house arouses the intellect and creativity. Stalwarts like Rabindranath Tagore, Manna Dey and Sathyajith Ray used to frequent the Indian Coffee House in Kolkata. Manna Dey even wrote a song about his nostalgic days at the Indian Coffee House.
In this age of high-end coffees outlets, patronized by the younger generation, the Indian Coffee house still has a large number of young customers. Youngsters from nearby colleges find Coffee house pocket friendly.
Some of them come here to brainstorm, to write books, scripts and blogs. Others are marketing and sales executives who come here to discuss their plans.
The Den of thinkers
One unique feature of the Coffee house is the no-hurry attitude of the waiters. “This hall”, the Staff say pointing towards a hall full of tables and chairs, is the den of the Journalists, writers and thinkers. They come and sit and talk for hours.
“When you ask them to leave they will order another coffee, in this way they will have 7-8 coffees in a day”, he said with a smile. “And some of the old-timers they will leave when we prepare to close”. That is the emotional connect between the Staff and loyal customers of the coffee house.
History of Coffee House
The COFFEE BOARD founded the ‘India Coffee House’ in the early 1940s, during the British rule. In the mid-1950s, the Board closed down several Coffee Houses in different cities throughout India. A large number of employees lost their jobs.
The well known great communist leader A K Gopalan organized Societies all over India in various states forming the “INDIA COFFEE BOARD WORKER’S CO-OPERATIVE SOCIETY”. The first Society was formed in Bangalore in August 1957.
Coffee House is just everywhere….
Now there are various Coffee House societies. In Kerala, there are two, Thrissur and Kannur Coffee boards. The most flourishing Coffee boards in the one in Jabalpur with 200 coffee houses and almost 40 in Jabalpur Itself.
The famous Shimla and Chandigarh Coffee Houses come under the Delhi Coffee Board. The first Coffee House was opened in Delhi in 1957. The Staff say that at one time there more than 25 Coffee Houses in Delhi. In every Bhavan, there was Coffee Houses. Mandi House, Vikas Bhavan, IT Bhavan, Delhi School of Economics, Kamla Nagar Coffee House near Head Office, to name a few.
The Beetroot story of the indian coffee house
When one thinks of Coffee, the first thing that comes to mind is that of the Beetroot Cutlets. Google’ Coffee House Cutlet” and there are several videos by food vloggers on Coffee house style Cutlet, with the inevitable ingredient being the beetroots.
It is said during the time Coffee House was first founded in 1940, food and clothing were in the ration for the public. The country was facing a financial crisis due to the two world wars. So Coffee House used the cheapest ingredient available in their recipes, which were beetroots.
Beetroot Online trolls
Few years ago, Coffee House was trolled on twitter for using beetroot in every recipe except water. So they removed beetroot from their recipes; but, within four days, beetroots were reinstated due to public demand.
The story of this Coffee House in Delhi is a cut about the 399 other Coffee Houses. Afterall stalwarts frequented this Coffee House. Many new ideas might have germinated in these rooms. The Staff say they never used beetroots their recipes, and cutlets are the least popular items. The fast-moving food items are the Masala Dosas and the Coffees.