Just-launched Beachville is a vacation packaged within four walls. And heaven knows the city deserves a holiday getaway, given how 2020 has been going so far.
Inside, the space bustles with a relaxed energy, enhanced by the all encompassing aroma of freshly-ground coffee, a fiesta of floating lights and trays of plump doughnuts. The reassuring hum of customers (many of whom come in for takeaways given the ongoing pandemic) is punctuated by cheery hisses from the espresso machine, set at the heart of the cafe.
Chennai’s first roastery cafe, Beachville’s focus is on enhancing the city’s coffee experience by offering a gamut of services, ranging from personalised grinds to Aeropress classes. The overriding mission, however, is showcasing the flavours and strengths of responsibly-sourced Indian coffee beans.
A part of the country’s new wave of roasters, who focus on technique to celebrate the delicate nuances of Indian beans, Divya Jayashankar launched Beachville Coffee Roasters in 2018.
Previously living in New York, Divya would showcase South Indian filter coffee at Sunday markets and fairs there. This led her to explore roasting techniques. By the time she moved to Chennai, she was so fascinated by the potential of the Indian bean, she decided to build a career on it.
Over a cortado — a creamy blend of fruity espresso drizzled with steamed milk — Divya explains how she believes that coffees have personalitiess.
Influenced by third wave coffee, which considers coffee an artisanal food (enhanced by thoughtful cultivation, processing, roasting and preparation) Divya approaches every roast differently, focussing on bringing out the individuality of each batch.
She is currently roasting Arabica from three of her favourite Indian estates now: Kelangur heights and Gungegiri in Chikmagalur, and Cauvery Peak in Yercaud. “I want a coffee that is sweet and bright. A brew for every mood,” she says, adding that she customises the blends to balance fruitiness with strength. She continues “Filter coffee has been a revelation. With the same beans and different roasts, we can get such a variety of flavours.”
In a bid to encourage customers to experiment, the cafe’s roaster is on view and staff are available to answer questions. In the future, Divya plans to hold classes on brewing techniques and tastings.
Besides the obligatory espressos, cappuccinos and lattes, Beachville also offers a decadent lineup of dessert-style salted caramel affogatos, toffee macchiatos and a surprising iced rose latte.
Restaurateur Sandesh Reddy, who is partnering with Divya on the project, holds up a plate laden with savoury doughnuts, stuffed with Chipotle mushroom, parmesan pink sauce, guacamole and creamy eggs. The sweet versions are as unconventional: strawberry cheesecake, birthday cake, creme brulee, and salted toffee among others. Sandwiches will be added to the menu in a couple of weeks.
With coffee occupying centre stage, the food menu is deliberately minimal.
And if you don’t drink coffee? Well, there is hot chocolate, tea and an unusual compromise, styled like a beach vacation: tropical cappuccinos fiesty with fresh pineapple juice and coconut cream.
Beachville is at Vidya Theertha Nagar, St Mary’s Road, Alwarpet