The Coffee Culture Of Bengaluru Is A Nod To Modernity And Tradition
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The Indian coffee chain Cafe Coffee Day first opened an outlet on Bengaluru’s Brigade Road in 1996. It was thronged by people eager to experience a cafe environment and enjoy cappuccinos and lattes. However, it wasn’t the first establishment where people began meeting over steaming cups of coffee. Places like India Coffee House, which offer a dose of nostalgia along with cups of coffee, have provided that environment since the 1950s. 

Legend has it that Baba Budan, a Sufi cleric, smuggled seven coffee beans to India from Yemen in the 16th century. The beans were sown near Chikmagalur, in an area that came to be known as Baba Budan Hills, and took the country by storm. Today, Karnataka is the producer of more than 70% of India's coffee and the state's primary coffee cultivation centres–Coorg, Chikmagalur and Sakleshpur—have all become popular holiday destinations.

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Travellers who visited these coffee estates went home with little knowledge of the brew. That began to change as many coffee estate bungalows were modified to become boutique hotels and homestays. This began to give visitors a chance to get involved and interact with their coffee. The coffee beans from these estates have also begun to be transported to Bengaluru, where they are used by contemporary cafes.

At Third Wave in Koramangala, beans are sourced from plantations in and around Chikmagalur, ground using European equipment and brewed using the cold drip method. The Flying Squirrel sources its coffee from a farm in Coorg, and beans are often manipulated to result in vanilla or berry undertones. The menu here also features nitro coffee: an international trend that Bangalore is now home to. 

While modern establishments like Third Wave and The Flying Squirrel have been pit against old-school ones like Brahmin’s Coffee Bar, both have their place within the coffee culture of the city. Contemporary coffee shops are better known for their cold brews, espressos and americanos, and heritage spots for their traditional filter coffee. Both contribute to Bengaluru’s coffee culture in different but integral ways. A lot may have changed within the city over the years, but coffee remains the connecting factor.