G. Samyraj and his fellow-villagers identified spots on the National and State highways in Tamil Nadu, sat there from six in the morning to eight at night to count how many cars passed that way per hour. If the math worked, they opened a coffee outlet there. Not just any coffee, but Kumbakonam Degree Coffee!
G. Samyraj who came up with this initiative belongs to Zameen Devarkulam, a village 10 kilometres away from Kovilpatti. He worked for nearly a decade in the Middle East before returning to his village, where, he was pained to see fellow farmers struggling and in debt. He decided to do something about it. Eight months ago he set up his first Only Coffee outlet at Mangalamedu. Today, he has eleven of them up and running, and manned by people from his village.
The outlets are called ‘Naidu Coffee in and as Only Coffee’. A dark blue board announces their presence. “We picked quiet spots where people in cars could stop and enjoy a refreshing cup. I am a coffee priyan and I love the idea of others like me enjoying a satisfying coffee, in the middle or end of a long drive. Kumbakonam Degree Coffee is a trade mark of Tamil Nadu and we serve that. It is like coffee made at home.” Frothy, piping hot, filter-coffee is served in gleaming pithalai davaratumblers . There is sugar-free substitutes for diabetics. “Sabari Malai pilgrims, and so on, are served in disposable cups,” explains Samyraj. The beans are procured from Chikamagalur and roasted at Virudhunagar from where they are delivered to the outlets where they are ground. Now Samyraj plans to go a step further to standardise flavours. He is working on setting up a unit where the decoction is centrally made. “So that the coffee will taste the same in all our outlets.” The R& D is underway and Samyraj hopes to get this plan off its feet soon.
What’s coffee without an accompanying snack? “Vegetarian bajji bonda will also be available. And we plan to centralise the grocery supplies as well. Only the vegetables will be sourced locally,” says Samyraj. The outlet proudly declares that it uses sunflower oil for frying and that the oil is not recycled. There is also a telephone number on teh board in case anyone has complaints. “We want feedback. That way we are alert about the service we provide. And we have communication with our customers.”
Samyraj insists Only Coffee stands for transparency and quality. Along with his business partners R. Anandhan and A. Kalpana, he is now on the lookout for franchisees. “We will set up the outlet for them and even have two of our trained staff to be with them for a month to show them how the café is run. We will supply the coffee powder and the grocery items too. Investors need approximately two lakh rupees that includes a deposit.”
Samyraj hopes that not too long in the future there will be at least a hundred Only Coffee outlets in Tamil Nadu. Till that time, he says, he and his team members will ensure that hot filter coffee priced at Rs 15 is served to the customers with a smile.
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