India’s northwestern states of Gujarat and Rajasthan are home to millions of people and thousands of years of rich history. Mahatma Gandhi made his home at an ashram in the Gujarat city of Ahmedabad, and Rajasthan is home to the pink city of Jaipur, a charming UNESCO World Heritage site.
But these states are also home to busy modern cities with their share of specialty coffee shops. No alcohol is legally served in Gujarat, and for some people coffee takes its place in social interactions. The neighbouring state of Rajasthan has much more liberal alcohol laws, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for specialty coffee shops too.
Read on to learn more about the specialty coffee highlights of Gujarat and Rajasthan.
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Baristas at work in Meraki. Credit: Meraki
Why These Five?
Coffee has long been in demand in this area of India, and there is no shortage of cafés to supply it. But the coffee shops highlighted here not only offer high quality coffee, they also have captivating stories.
Brijesh Bachkaniwala prepares a coffee. Credit: Meraki
Owned and operated by Brijesh Bachkaniwala, this Surat coffee shop started out in a residential property and originally operated for just three hours a day. Its popularity grew and today it’s a fully equipped café that serves more than 300 guests a day.
Brijesh is generous in sharing his passion, educating his customers about coffee and encouraging them to try pour overs instead of the milky, sweet drinks popular in India.
Meraki uses coffee from around the world, but is particularly keen on Indian coffee including that from the Kelagur estate, which produces both tea and coffee and experiments with processing techniques.
This coffee shop is also a cultural hub, hosting poetry slams, storytelling sessions, stand-up comedy, and musical acts in the evenings.
A barista prepares a pour over at Meraki. Credit: Meraki
|Where||108, SNS Platina, Someshwara Enclave, Vesu, Surat, Gujarat 395007|
|Espresso Machine||La Marzocco Linea PB 2group AV|
|Grinder||Mahlkonig K30, Compak R8|
|Coffee Offerings||Espresso-based drinks, pour over|
|Must-Try Drink||Pour over made with single origin beans|
|Retail Offerings||Roasted coffee beans, brewing accessories|
|Food & Other Drinks||Hot chocolate, tea, and soft drinks. Baked goods and sandwiches.|
|Nearby Sights||Surat is known for diamond cutting and textiles. As one of India’s oldest cities, it also has numerous historical sites. Meraki is close to the Tapi River walkway and Science Centre Surat, an interactive museum with a planetarium and diamond gallery.|
The exterior of Curious Life Coffee Roasters. Credit: Curious Life Coffee Roasters
2. Curious Life Coffee Roasters
The owner of Curious Life, Neeraj Sheoran, was a lieutenant colonel in the Indian army before suffering a spinal injury that forced him to leave. While working in the Democratic Republic of Congo, he was introduced to coffee roasting. After the injury, he learned about third wave coffee and began a new career.
But his military discipline remains. Neeraj is a stickler for perfection and won’t serve anything he isn’t 100% happy with. He tells me, “We don’t sugarcoat – if something is wrong, it is wrong.”
The café opened in September 2015 and is a great spot to spark up a conversation about coffee or simply sit and enjoy the high-quality drinks.
Customer service is delivered with just as much precision as the coffee. If a customer leaves a bad review, Neeraj simply requests that they come back to try again.
Latte art served at Curious Life Coffee Roasters. Credit: Curious Life Coffee Roasters
|Where||C 54 A, Sarojini Marg, Panch Batti, C Scheme, Ashok Nagar, Jaipur, Rajasthan 302001|
|Espresso Machine||La Marzocco Linea PB, La Marzocco Strada, La Marzocco GS3|
|Grinder||Mahlkonig EK43 (4), Mahlkonig K30, Mahlkonig PEAK|
|Coffee Offerings||Espresso-based drinks, V-60 pour over, AeroPress, siphon, cold brew|
|Must-Try Drink||Flat white made with Shyira beans from Rwanda or a V-60 with Konyu beans from Kenya|
|Retail Offerings||Roasted coffee beans|
|Food & Other Drinks||Baked goods, waffles, pancakes|
|Nearby Sights||Jaipur is a charming tourist attraction in itself. Explore the Pink City and its many historical sites. Curious Life is close to Sawai Jai Singh Ji Statue, Rambagh Palace, and several public parks.|
Baristas behind the bar at Zen Cafe. Credit: Zen Cafe
3. Zen Cafe
Ahmedabad is mostly famous for being the home to Mahatma Gandhi’s Sabarmati ashram. But today it’s home to some of India’s most creative industries. Zen Cafe is a small chain that offers fresh salads, artisanal bread, and delicious coffee prepared in multiple ways.
The first location of Zen Cafe opened in 2008 at Amdavad ni Gufa, an underground art gallery. It’s a quaint, calm space that hosts students, visitors, and locals who come to work over a cup of delicious coffee. A tiny Nutella-based cookie is usually served with your drink.
A barista pours latte art. Credit: Zen Cafe
|Where||Amdavad Ni Gufa, University Rd, Navrangpura, Ahmedabad, Gujarat 380009|
|Espresso Machine||Astoria, Rancilio|
|Grinder||Mazzer, Mahlkonig, Anfim|
|Coffee Offerings||Premium Indian coffees and guest roasts from non-Indian roasters|
|Must-Try Drink||AeroPress made with Indian coffee|
|Retail Offerings||Focaccia, multigrain, and sourdough loaves that are baked in-shop|
|Food & Other Drinks||Full menu including sandwiches, salads, and pizzas. Desserts, teas, smoothies|
|Nearby Sights||Take a look at the contemporary art and garden at Amdavad Ni Gufa.|
The busy interior of Blue Tokai Coffee Roasters. Credit: Blue Tokai Coffee Roasters
4. Blue Tokai Coffee Roasters
Blue Tokai Coffee Roasters is a roastery and small chain of cafés that was opened in 2013. It has a focus on making organic, sustainable coffee accessible to all and even has opportunities for customers to roast their own beans.
Owners Matt Chitharanjan and Namrata Asthana tell me, “From the very beginning, we had significant amount of customers ordering our coffee from Jaipur and the market here is quite evolved in terms of experimenting with new things. Our baristas here probably interact with customers more than in any other city and that is one of the reasons we set up a small roaster here, to give customers the ability to roast their own coffee under the guidance of our team.”
Try a coffee flight, which you can order either hot or cold. The Attikan Estate coffee served as an espresso has notes of cocoa, fruit, and English toffee. If you’re in the mood for a pour over, try one from the Thogarihunkal Estate for flavor notes of vanilla, almond, and citrus.
Blue Tokai’s Jaipur location is a laidback space where regulars and tourists come together in an airy, green environment. It’s the ideal place to lounge and savor some of the finest organic coffees grown in India.
Lunch at Blue Tokai Coffee Roasters. Credit: Blue Tokai Coffee Roasters
|Where||A-5, First Floor, inside Suryavanshi Pearl, Sardar Patel Marg, C Scheme, Jaipur 302001|
|Espresso Machine||La Marzocco|
|Grinder||Mahaloking EK 43, Mahaloking K30|
|Coffee Offerings||Espresso-based drinks, pour over, cold brew, nitro coffee|
|Must-Try Drink||Iced pour over or cold brew|
|Retail Offerings||Roasted coffee beans, branded merchandise|
|Food & Other Drinks||Full food menu, tea|
|Nearby Sights||Explore the many historical attractions of Jaipur. Blue Tokai is close to Amrapali Museum, Sawai Jai Singh Ji Statue, and several public parks.|
A French press coffee in progress. Credit: Café 651
5. Café 651
Jodhpur is the second largest city in Rajasthan and a UNESCO world heritage site. Traditional temples, grand palaces, and chowks (open marketplaces) are just some of the attractions. It’s also known for rich desserts including ghee-fried Ghevar, syrupy pancake-like Malpua, and saffron- and pistachio-packed Motichur Ke Laddu.
Annant Baheti chose this fascinating city to set up Café 651 in 2018. Locals and tourists enjoy third wave coffee together here. A particularly delightful treat is the Vietnamese styled mango coffee, which is only available in summer. Based on a coffee blend from Karma Kaapi in Bengaluru, it’s a sweet but acidic coffee infused with condensed milk and mango puree.
The café uses fresh and local ingredients and every coffee has a food pairing. Just ask a barista for their recommendation.
A barista prepares a French press. Credit: Café 651
|Where||651, 11th C Road Sardarpura, Jodhpur 342003|
|Espresso Machine||WPM (single groove)|
|Grinder||WPM and Hario Electric|
|Coffee Offerings||Espresso-based drinks, pour over, siphon, filter kaapi, French press, cold brew|
|Must-Try Drink||Filter coffee decoction with coconut and jaggery syrup, coffee tonic with star anise and cucumber syrup, and Vietnamese mango coffee in the summer|
|Retail Offerings||Roasted beans, brewing supplies|
|Food & Other Drinks||A globally inspired menu with local touches, whole leaf teas, mocktails|
|Nearby Sights||Mehrangarh Fort, Umaid Bhawan Palace and the Jaswant Thada clock tower|
Gujarat and Rajasthan have a wealth of attractions and countless cafés. But these are the ones that have fascinating stories and high quality coffee. Whether you’re in Jaipur, Surat, or elsewhere in this part of India, make sure to add at least one of these coffee shops to your itinerary.
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Written by Dhaval Mehta.
Perfect Daily Grind
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