Hitting a heady high with coffee and plums
Published: 20th October 2013 12:00 AM |
It may not be Kahlua, but it’s close. As the home made tag gains ground, wine and liqueurs made by Delhi-based Alpana Parmar are being talked about by connoisseurs of the finer things in life. Moreover, the festive season is here and nothing makes a better gift than something that is home made, environment-friendly, delicious and has alcohol too.
An armyman’s wife, Alpana, 35, is a pro at hosting parties. “It was at these house gatherings that I started serving my home made coffee liqueur and plum wine. I poured it on brownies or drizzled it on ice-cream. I even used it in cakes. I did it because I love coffee and always try to innovate. Creating something new has always been my passion. My friends and family really appreciated the liqueur and made several queries. Soon, I was gifting bottles to them. It was they who suggested I sell it. For a while I ignored the idea but then I saw it as an opportunity to meet more people and interact with them, something that I love doing. Coming from a marketing background I also saw it as an excellent opportunity to put my previous work skills to use and I finally started selling in 2011. It also helped me work as working on the liqueur while being on the move from one posting to other was not difficult compared to a full time job,” tells Alpana.
Thus was born Guffaw Home Made Coffee Liqueur, a blend of freshly ground coffee, cane sugar, dark spirit and a hint of vanilla which sells for Rs 1,550 per 750ml bottle.
“After experimenting a lot with my concoction I arrived at the conclusion that freshly ground coffee works better than instant. I source my coffee and vanilla beans from Kerala. I make customised liqueur too based on feedback of users. The menfolk like it stronger and women prefer it sweeter. People who use it in the kitchen have a different requirement altogether and it gives me a high to think of the various uses people put my Guffaw to. I suggest using it in roasts, to marinate meat, in vegetable casseroles, it also works very well with eggplants (when sauteed with Guffaw), cakes and dessert. You just have to put your thinking cap on,” says Alpana.
The entrepreneur is now using social networking and people place their orders on Guffaw’s official Facebook page. “I am connecting with people and they tell me what they liked or did not like. Social networking has made the process of obtaining feedback quick. It only makes the product better,” Alpana adds.
Though the path seems rosy, Alpana has had her share of struggles before tasting success. She says, “Bottling my liqueur was easy. After mulling buying bottles, I joined this recycling group where people were generous enough to donate used bottles. Before I pour my special concoction in them I sterilise the bottles. For the wrapping part, I use brown paper, recycled sutli (thread), and a homemade wax seal. After much research I settled on the final look and am proud that it is all done in an environment friendly way.”
Setting up a distribution network was a big challenge. People who came to know about the product wanted to order from cities they were in. “I set up a home delivery model in Bangalore. I tied up with an online site called Imly.in from where I sell in Mumbai. Customers have to pick up the product from a delivery point. In Delhi too, people can pick the product from a few locations. The nature of the product is such that I don’t want any leakages or spillages.”
Thanks to her husband’s transferable job, Alpana has also had to move house frequently too. And it has been a learning process. “I learn from the food habits of the locals. In Srinagar, the house we were allotted had a few plum, apple and almond trees. The plums would fall and ferment and from there, I got my next idea. Why not use the fermentation process to make plum wine? The plums are big and of export quality. It was painful to see them wasted. I did my research, experimented with different kinds of alcohol and finally was ready with my product, which was again appreciated at various get-togethers,” she says. It makes for a perfect Christmas gift. What is unique about the wine is that Alpana has stock aged five and a half years. “I accept orders in July/August for the wine so that I can place orders for the plums. The aged wine is priced at Rs 3,500 for 750ml though the recently made ones sell at Rs 3,000 for the same quantity,” Alapana signs off.