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India’s 6 hottest home-grown coffee chains

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These desi chains are brewing success and giving heated competition to the big-banner international coffee brands operating in the country

Bengaluru: Two years ago, the Canadian multinational coffeehouse Tim Hortons entered India and has since opened over 30 stores. Meanwhile, US-based Starbucks recently celebrated the opening of its 430th store in India, with plans to add another 1,000 outlets nationwide by 2028. Not to be outdone, UK-based Costa Coffee, which established its presence in India almost two decades ago, already has over 150 outlets.

The burgeoning coffee culture in India is not only attracting numerous international brands seeking a pie of the hot market but is also fostering a fertile ground for homegrown coffee chains to thrive and expand.

Homegrown coffee chains, in fierce competition with global giants, are currently in a rapid expansion phase in India, capitalising on the country’s potential for growth as one of the largest coffee-consuming nations.

“Coffee consumption globally is increasing at less than 1.5% annually, whereas India is experiencing a robust growth rate of 12% year on year,” Abhijeet Anand, founder of AbCoffee, told IndiaRetailing in an earlier interview.

Indian coffee market size was valued at $478 million in 2022 and is expected to reach $1,227.47 million by 2032 at a compound annual growth rate of 9.87% during the forecast period 2024-2033, according to Custom Market Insights.

Let’s take a closer look at the top homegrown coffee-house chains in India, ranked by the number of stores (in descending order) that are currently dominating the country’s coffee landscape.

Cafe Coffee Day (CCD)

Founded by V G Siddhartha in 1996 with its first outlet located on Brigade Road, Bengaluru, the cafe chain is parented by Café Coffee Day Global Ltd. a Chikkamagaluru-based coffee producer which grows coffee on its estates of over 20,000 acres.

CCD expanded rapidly to other cities in India, with more than 1,000 cafés open across the nation by 2011. It also expanded internationally, opening outlets in countries like Austria, the Czech Republic, Malaysia, and Egypt.

Despite the company’s success, CCD faced a series of setbacks like massive debt and the death of its founder in 2019. In 2020, his wife, Malavika Hegde, took over the role of chief executive officer. Under Hegde’s leadership, CCD managed to reduce its debt by 75% despite the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, as per Equentis.com.

In financial year (FY) 2023, CCD reported a 59% jump in revenues to Rs 924 crore, compared to Rs 582 crore in FY 2022, as reported by The Economics Times. The company operates 900 outlets across the country.

Barista

Haryana-based coffee chain Barista was established in 2000, under the name Barista Coffee Company Ltd. (BCCL), as a subsidiary of Turner Morrison Group.

Over the past 20 years, Barista has been owned by various entities including the Tata Group, entrepreneur Sivasankaran, Italy’s Lavazza, and New Delhi-based Carnation Hospitality. Currently, it is in the hands of Boutonniere Hospitality Pvt. Ltd.

Barista was the first international coffee house chain to enter Sri Lanka in 2002. In 2023, it overtook Colombo-based Java Lounge to become the largest coffee chain operator in Sri Lanka. The brand is also planning to increase its presence in Maldives, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar, and the Middle East.

Today, the company operates over 450 cafes across more than 147 cities and is aiming to hit the 500-store mark by the end of 2024.

The coffee chain’s network revenue for fiscal year (FY) 2023 has been around Rs 190 crore and by the end of FY24, it aims to reach the Rs 250 crore mark.

Third Wave Coffee

Bengaluru-based coffee-first quick service restaurant (QSR) brand Third Wave Coffee was founded by Sushant Goel, Ayush Bathwal, and Anirudh Sharma in 2016 with a single store in Bengaluru.

The brand is run by Heisetasse Beverages Private Ltd., an Indian company with cafes across different Indian cities namely Hyderabad, Coonoor, Bengaluru, Delhi, Mumbai, Chandigarh and Pune. The brand operates in both retail and cafe formats.

All Third Wave Coffee cafes offer a distinctive selection of handcrafted coffee made exclusively from 100% Arabica beans, sourced from estates in Chikmagalur and the Nilgiris.

Currently, Third Wave Coffee has over 118 locations nationwide, half of which are in Bengaluru and the brand is valued at around $150 million. It is planning to open 50 new stores and triple its roastery capacity within the next 12 months, as per media reports.

Blue Tokai Coffee Roasters

Gurugram-based specialty coffee brand Blue Tokai Coffee Roasters was founded in 2013 as a roastery by husband-wife duo Matt Chitharanjan and Namrata Asthana. The name ‘Tokai’ originates from an ancient Malabari word meaning the plume of a peacock, which is also reflected in the brand’s logo.

The coffee chain is backed by investors A91 Partners and actor Deepika Padukone’s Ka Enterprises.

Presently, the brand is home to 4 roasteries and over 110 physical outlets across cities including Delhi NCR, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Chandigarh, Mohali, and Pune. It also has operations in Japan, according to its official website.

The farm-to-cup coffee company also has partnerships with luxury hotels, restaurants, corporates and co-working spaces amongst others.

In FY23, Blue Tokai’s net revenue increased more than 70% to Rs 127 crore, as per reports. The company is targeting to reach 200 store count over a three-year time span.

Nothing Before Coffee

Jaipur-based Nothing Before Coffee was established in 2017 by school friends Akshay Kedia, Anand Jain, Ankesh Jain, and Shubham Bhandari. It offers more than 100 beverages across different categories with coffee as the core product.

In May 2024, the company made its foray into the global market with its first outlet in Portugal. Today, the QSR chain operates over 62 outlets across 26 Indian cities and 10 states.

It has plans to establish 100 outlets across Europe and 400 outlets in tier 1 and tier 2 Indian cities within the next two years, as per The Print. The value-focused coffee brand is also targeting to generate Rs 400 crore annual revenues by 2026.

AbCoffee

Mumbai-based tech-enabled speciality coffee QSR chain AbCoffee was founded in 2022 by IIT Dhanbad graduate Abhijeet Anand. It has put in place a grab-and-go ordering system, at a turnaround time of 1.5 minutes from order to serving.

The startup enables customers to walk into the QSR setup and use a near-field communication (NFC) touchpoint or scan the QR code to place an order. Users can visit its website abcoffee.in, select a location, place their order, and grab the coffee of their choice on their way. Orders can also be placed via the Swiggy and Zomato delivery apps as well.

Currently, AbCoffee operates over 41 outlets across Mumbai, Delhi, Gurugram and Noid. The company is aiming to reach a store count of 150 by the end of 2024 and is targeting 10,000 outlets in India within the next decade.

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