CHENNAI: Thala vararu paru, coffee onnu podu!” exclaims a staff member of Vijayaram Coffee, a 45-year-old shop on South Usman Road, as soon as he sees an autorickshaw driver a regular here enter the unassuming store. Another worker quickly brews a cup of hot coffee and serves it to the aged driver. A few sips later, a smile touches the corner of his mouth.
“Their coffee is the best,” he says and leaves, feeling rejuvenated for a long day of savaris. In the next few minutes, we observe a motley of customers stream in students, office-goers, food delivery executives, auto-rickshaw drivers and families. As we wait at one of the shop’s twoseater tables, our order is served.
We immediately sip and bite into our cup of coffee almost at the same time. You read that right. The coffee shop, known for its graded coffee powder and delectable snacks, has since June 2020 been serving freshly concocted coffee in a chocolateglazed wafer biscuit cup, garnering the attention of the city’s foodies. “I come from a family of coffee connoisseurs and to start a coffee business was quite natural for me.
In 1975, I started this store to just sell freshly roast and ground coffee powder. We have grown over time,” shares 70-something Jawahar, founder of the store, while he packs a takeaway bag with masala biscuits and butter buns for a customer. “We have several regulars and it’s a legacy built on quality,” he smiles.
His son, Senthilkumar, who has been part of the business since 1994, tells us that the shop has been redefining itself since its inception. “We started by just selling coffee powder. In 2003, after years of building a clientele and receiving positive reviews about the quality of our powder, we decided to brew and sell our coffee.
When we first began serving the hot beverage, it was priced at Rs 3,” recalls Senthil, as he oversees a batch of peaberry coffee beans and Plantation A (Arabica) coffee beans being roasted and ground. As the warm, aromatic smell of the beans from Karnataka, fill the room, he turns to us and points at the glass cabinet. “We introduced these snack varieties only five years ago.
I am a big-time foodie and the snacks in my menu are either inspired by dishes that have impressed me or are experiments from my kitchen,” he shares. True to the spirit of reinventing their brand, the biscuit cups were introduced amid the pandemic to offer patrons an interesting bite to mark their coffee time, he shares. “To introduce a biscuit cup has been on my mind for a very long time.
I attend Aahar, an international food and hospitality fair, every year. During my visit there in 2018, I came across a company that sold these novel biscuit cups. Since it was in the initial stages of research and development back then, I didn’t take it forward. However, last year, the idea took shape.
Now, we have tied up with two companies to supply the biscuit cups both normal and the chocolate - laced ones,” he details. Since the launch of the biscuit coffee on their menu, the store has been receiving at tent ion from foodies and foodbloggers from across the city and even across Tamil Nadu, reports the entrepreneur.
“We have a footfall of anything over 300 per day. While the crowd is mostly mixed, we have been seeing more youngsters drop in to try the chocolate coffee. We even had people from Madurai visit us once to try the biscuit coffee. Besides the novelty factor, the authentic taste of the coffee is a huge draw,” he beams.
The store, along with its quintessential coffee, serves mouthwatering short eats, including Madurai butter bun, bun butter jam, samosas, masala biscuits, puff varieties ranging from meal maker to gobi Manchurian, cheese balls and biscuit sandwich. “We have plans for expanding the shop into more outlets and also renovating this store. Due to the sudden yet deep impact of the pandemic, we are taking it slow, but we hope to give the store a makeover in the next two to three months,” he shares.
The chocolate biscuit coffee is priced at Rs 30 and the regular biscuit coffee is priced at Rs 25. The store is located at No.37, South Usman Road, T.Nagar. For details, call: 24345222.