Matt Chitharanjan & Namrata Asthana are the founders of Blue Tokai Coffee
The Indian coffee farmer is getting his due. Thanks to the folks at Blue Tokai Coffee, Delhi-based roasters with a delivery model as well as roasterie-cum-café situated at Sainik Farm. Conceptualised by Matt Chitharanjan and Namrata Asthana in 2012, Blue Tokai is on a mission to bring the unnamed coffee farmers to the forefront, while ensuring that your morning cuppa is freshly brewed.
What is Blue Tokai?
Being coffee lovers, Matt and Namrata had inculcated a habit of getting their coffees blended and ground from kiosks in Chennai before moving to Delhi. It was in 2012 when the couple started missing the whole experience, and decided to give the capital a flavour of freshly-roasted coffee. Blue Tokai Coffee was thus born; Matt’s prior roasting experience came handy and the two decided to highlight Indian coffee by getting it directly from the farm and delivering it to their customers. The couple was also tired of Indian coffee that had been roasted months ago or imported making it extremely expensive due to the import duty.
A brand was born
One day Namrata was working on a logo sitting at her desk when she found an unfamiliar bird had built a nest in the balcony. While searching for the name of the bird online, she came across the word ‘tokai’, which meant plume of a peacock in an ancient language from the Malabar region. The peacock not only represented India, but it also reminded Namrata of the numerous peacock sightings during her summer visits to the country as a child.
Thus, ‘tokai’ became a symbol for Indian coffee estates. "There is a sense of pride when local coffee is highlighted, and a connection between the farms and customers is created," she says.
There is no doubt that India’s café culture has given birth to an entire generation of coffee lovers. But, how many of us are familiar or even curious to understand the dynamics of the beverage – right from the process of farming to brewing? Blue Tokai Coffee does all of this with a very transparent approach.
“We roast your coffee once you place your order!” And the proof lies in the roasting date, which is stated on the package. This matters, “because you must consume the coffee within three weeks of the roast date (not the date the pack was opened or the coffee was ground) to enjoy the best flavour". You will also find details like the farm mentioned on the pouches.
Blue Tokai also uses profile roasting, which involves mapping the temperature of each bean from the moment it enters the roaster to the moment it comes out.
How Blue Tokai works
Matt and Namrata are focused on offering the best quality coffee to Indians. “Most people don't realise that coffee loses the flavour and aroma within three weeks of it being roasted,” they say. Blue Tokai roasts their coffee every Sunday and Wednesday and dispatch it the next day to maintain its freshness and quality. They also have a subscription model where customers can receive coffee in their mail periodically. Their customer base is split between Mumbai, Delhi, Pune and Bangalore.
They also partner with cafes and restaurants in metros and retail their coffee.
Coffee versus chai
In a country where people swear by their morning tea, the couple reveals that the challenge to convert them into coffee drinkers wasn’t as big. “We are fortunate enough to have customers who are experimental and want to move away from chai!” They also know of a lot of customers who use a chai strainer to brew coffee.
Getting familiar with brewing coffee
Let’s face it. India’s coffee drinking culture in metros is restricted to cafes and restaurants. Plus, owing to busy lifestyles, people prefer instant coffee to ground coffee. It is less time consuming after all. Given the scenario, the team at Blue Tokai stresses the importance of freshly-roasted coffee that is devoid of any preservatives and artificial flavours. Through brewing classes and workshops, they are trying to bring about a change by introducing coffee lovers to channi coffee, which is nothing but using a strainer to make ground coffee. “This makes the transition from instant to freshly-brewed coffee easier,” they believe.
Café in Mumbai
Blue Tokai Coffee will soon see a space in Mumbai by the end of May. The plan is to have a roasterie and café located in Lower Parel. “The idea is to have people come and see their coffee being roasted, while also grabbing a Flat White, Cortado or Pour Over. We will also focus on adding on to our range of existing cold options such as iced lattes, iced Pour Overs, Coffee Tonic and Cold Brew.” So, enjoy a cuppa and also check out the roasting process and interact with the team.
Secret to a perfect cup of coffee
1. Ensure that your coffee is freshly roasted – coffee that was roasted three or more weeks ago is not as fresh and has lost important aroma and flavour compounds.
2. Do not store your coffee in a freezer since moisture seeps into the coffee and degrades its quality. Store your coffee in a cool, dry place in an airtight container.
3. Measure your coffee and water ratio and also check the temperature of the water. If the water is too cold, your coffee will be under-extracted and if it is too hot, it will be burnt and over-extracted.
4. Depending on your brewing equipment, check if your grind size is suitable.
3 common brewing mistakes to avoid
1. What most people don't realise is that coffee loses its flavour and aroma within three weeks of it being roasted. This means that it can still be consumed, but taste very flat.
2. The taste of your coffee depends on the quality of water you use. We highly recommend using bottled water and not water right out of the tap.
3. Very hot water leads to over extraction of flavour from the coffee grinds, which can lead to a very bitter cup. Therefore, let the water cool down for about 30 seconds.
You can buy Blue Tokai Coffee from Amazon, Grofers, Big Basket, FlipKart and I Say Organic.