Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Indian Coffee House – The Starbucks of the bygone epoch

A coffee coupled with a cutlet (with signature beetroot inside) is a yummy combination for a Keralite. It is easy to spot a Keralite anywhere in India as he will be searching for an ICH first (even though its presence is limited to few regions across India). Talk to anyone in the bygone era they will have a lot reminiscence about ICH. Even years before the launch of Café Coffee Day or the Starbucks, ICH brought in coffee culture in India. 

The Indian Coffee House chain commenced as a small outlet by the Coffee Cess Committee in 1936. The first outlet opened in Mumbai and by the 1940s almost 50 Coffee Houses had opened up all over British India. During the 1950s some changes in policies came around and the board had to shut down the Coffee Houses. But later communist leader A. K. Gopalan along with workers of the Coffee Board formed the Indian Coffee Workers' Co-operatives and re-started the chain as Indian Coffee House. The same started in Bangalore on 19 August 1957 along with other parts of the country.

Every ICH outlets have a lot to cherish up on. It was really a Starbucks of the past. You have a sip of coffee blended with chicory and hang on there for hours. The attender with a turban will treat you well regardless of your order. The coffee house friends meet daily and have heated discussions on politics, movies, society and what not. In fact crucial life decisions are taken during such gatherings. Thus ICH as brand is not positioned as a hotel but as a hangout place for people. ICH seldom looks modern but it gives energy to all who loves it. The ICH brand delivers the brand promise and the trust people have in the brand is unparalleled. 

But are ICH relevant today to the new generation? Even though people prefer ICH, one has to agree that it has lost its charm to the Café Coffee Day, Barista etc. This has resulted in closure of a few ICH outlets. Will ICH remain as Starbucks or Star(ve)bucks(starving for money)?

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