This Young Founder Talks How Chai Is Supporting Kulhad Movement
Image Credit: Anubhav Dubey, CEO & Founder, Chai Sutta Bar

In an exclusive interview with Anubhav Dubey, CEO of Chai Sutta Bar, Slurrp tried to understand how the passion for tea brewed in his heart. Following a SWOT analysis, while looking for a business idea, his research led him to the statistics that tea is a highly consumable product in India after water. Chai is what Indians prefer the most when compared to coffee. It has retained its fan base despite the culture for coffee gradually evolving. His venture also supports the potters by serving tea in kulhad across its outlets. 

Q. What made you come up with the concept?

My friend Anand and I have been curious to start a business since our school times. But, coming from a middle-class family, our parents wanted us to become Indian Administrative Service Officers. I tried but failed a couple of exams like CA and CAT. My parents sent me to Delhi to prepare for the UPSC. At the same time, Anand started his own business. I was busy preparing for the UPSC exam when he called one day and informed me that his business has got shut down. It rang a bell. I returned to Indore, and we decided we should return to our original idea. While exploring the streets, we spotted a tea stall on every corner. We realized the tea business would match our budget of 3 lakhs. We opened our first outlet of Chai Sutta Bar (CSB) near the girls' hostel in Bhawarkua in Indore in 2016. 

Q. Are you a chai lover?

It is one of the most fantastic beverage alternatives, yet I was never a big fan of it. But considering the market and commercial prospects, I started getting inclined towards it and now, I am definitely a chai fan.

Q. Which chai is your favourite?

I enjoy masala tea, which Indians seem to prefer and relieves cold and cough symptoms. Consequently, I developed a taste for it. 

Adrak and Elaichi Chai, Image by CSB

Q. Chai or coffee, which one do the Indians love more? What's your observation?

A survey says the highest tea consumable country is Turkey, followed by Ireland and the United Kingdom. If we talk about the stats during the fiscal year 2021, over 1.1 billion kg of tea were consumed in India. The popularity of this hot beverage has steadily grown throughout time. After China, India is the world's second-largest producer of tea. So yes, chai is loved the most.

Q. What makes your chais special?

We choose the finest tea garden leaves and combine them with our premium ingredients. We use pure milk that has not even a trace of water. The sugar is sulfur-free. It is served in Kulhad. Not just the beverage, the environment also exudes a nostalgic feel.

Q. What are the unique chai flavours you have brought on the menu? Which one is the most popular?

We offer nine flavours for all seven days to satisfy the craving for chai. So, we have Rose Chai, Adrak Chai, Elaichi Chai, Kesar Chai, Chocolate Chai, Paan Chai, lemon Chai, Masala chai, and Tulsi Chai. The most famous is Chocolate Chai. It is not usually found in markets, homemade teas, or any other blended options in the market. 

Q. Any exotic or lost tea recipe you want to revive? 

We are working on it. We have a product development team, so lost tea and exotic are on the pipeline. However, cost wise they are a tad heavy on the pocket. Since, our target group is mostly youth, we are not introducing such variants right now. Having said that, it's on our wish list.

Q. The tea at your outlet is served in kulhad. How did this idea occur to you?

Kulhad is a highly sanitary and environment-friendly product that can be disposed of after use. The idea came six years ago, when tea in kulhad was not particularly well-known, even though Lalu Yadav Ji, when he was the railway minister, made tea in kulhad mandatory in trains. This clay glass/cup is also more cost-effective than other plastic cups. Apart from that, we want to give employment to the community of Indian potters. At that time, plastics and disposables were prevalent. We wanted to replace them. If we are talking about the idea of kulhad, it is biodegradable and hygienic, and we, as a brand, choose to contribute to the eco-friendly environment. At present, all the outlets put together serves 4 lakh kulhads of tea in a day across India.

Chai served in kulhad, Image by CSB

Q. How do you support the potters with the kulhad movement?

Nothing is superior to "Desh ki Mitti". We promote this by using kulhad. Making a kulhad is quite a seasonal activity. As evidenced by the fact that potters either make clay pots or diyas for Diwali. Throughout the summer there isn't much employability left in this sector. As a result, many potters change their line of work. But as part of RND, we approached every potter across India and successfully found a few of them. We also share the open letter to potters to ensure we will buy every piece of pie with those who are not potters but want to do business. So, the plan was, we would provide the material, machinery, and skill set. If they make it, we will also buy the kulhads from them. Now we have 350-400 potter families. These potters are spread across India in small towns like Khurja and Jamnipura near Allahabad. More than 93 lakh kulhads are transported to the central supply in Indore to each of our sites by truck in a single month.

Q. Chai Shai, we often talk about it. What Shai (food/snacks) are most popular or must-try?

Shai is a snack that we serve along with chai at our outlets, and the list includes pizza, Maggie, sandwiches, and more. As we are QSR models, we are serving quickly made products. There is further research going on to add to the menu.

Masala Maggie served at CSB

Q. What are your future plans?

The food brand is increasing its footprint, not in India but internationally. Today it has 400+ outlets, including in Muscat, Dubai, and Nepal, in 195+ Cities. The expansion across the northern belt of the country is almost over. We are also changing as per the market and keeping sustainability in mind. Now we are focusing on South India. We are also opening the outlets by the end of 2022 in the US, UK, and Canada.