The mammoth chain of Café Coffee Day outlets in India needs no introduction, atleast not to any of the Indians reading this. CCD is who bumped up the image of the proverbial cup of home-made filter kaapi and took it to a gourmet strata, while also giving it the most versatile and contemporary outlook. I must admit that when I had my first Cold Coffee aka ‘The Tropical Iceberg’ at CCD way back in my college days (must have been in the year 2000 I’m guessing), I was in complete awe of their menu. “Wow, these people have coffee to be cherished in so many avatars”, I thought. Every time I visited CCD with friends meant experimenting with a new beverage and rating it against the Tropical Iceberg (b’cos that was the bench-mark beverage at that time. Coming to you at 25 bucks a glassful, it was the best thing you could buy from your pocket-money, and still not feel guilty about blowing up the monies you had taken from your Father with so much difficulty). Hanging out at CCD was considered ‘super cool’, and if you had also hung out at every new CCD outlet in the city, you were considered the epitome of being hip, atleast among the college crowd.
Gradually, there were more and more chains of coffee shops mushrooming in the city, and with time we started seeing the likes of Barista, Quikies, Java Green, Kuppa (and any others I have missed mentioning). Much as I cherished my visits to CCD, there was this sudden impulse of not wanting to visit any coffee shop anymore. No, the coffee shops per se were not to blame one bit…I still love going to them till date. It was the crowd that started frequenting coffee shops that was to blame and slowly, all my favourite coffee shops turned more into lovers’ havens. I guess they were just too cozy for the lovebirds to not resist. Visit any coffee shop in town and you’ll find couples who are just barely in their teens plonked there for hours at end, holding hands and koochie-kooing, whispering sweet nothings into each others’ ears. Personally, I’m pretty old-fashioned when it comes to PDA (public display of affection) and the deluge of college lovebirds hogging all the coffee shops in town was the reason for my dwindling interest in visiting any. I still turn a blind eye and visit my favourite CCD all by myself once in a while, and much to the chagrin of the hubby (getting the hubby to go with me will result in mayhem). He will glower at me and say “You want to go there to see college kids koochie-kooing in public?” But now, he cannot say that to me, cos the Coffee Day Lounge is here in town, and I needn’t go by myself anymore! Yayyyy, can you see me smirk? :P Oh yes, am I happy, or am I happy?!!
The CCD Lounge is a specially created format for the coffee connoisseur who can indulge in the invigorating cup of coffee made from alternate brewing methods, and right at his/her table. The whole experience is complimented with a delightful dining experience as well. They have a delicious range of starters (which include some devilish ‘nutty brownies’ in there, and yes, as a starter!), salads with a melange of asian vegetables and dressings, burgers, pastas, biryanis, palak paneer with paranthas, sandwiches and pizzas to boot. What’s more – you get to choose from a list of fillings, spreads, and bread options for those really finger-licking-good sandwiches (these are not your average boring sandwiches, mind you). You also get to pick from a list of toppings and sauces for the nice motley of hand-tossed pizzas on their menu. And of course, they have my favourite course of meal covered too – Dessert! *wicked grin*
The CCD team was kind enough to have a few of us food bloggers over for the showcase of their first Lounge cafe in Bangalore last week. Just 3 of us bloggers turned up, but it a whole lot of fun. Apart from me, Ally and her adorable tiny-tot were there. I’d met Ally at the Oyster Bay food-tasting event earlier, and I knew she was good fun. I was however meeting the charming Irin for the first time. She’s such a sweetheart; I connected with her instantly, and it felt like I had met her a gazillion times before then.
I was expecting to see a tête-à-tête set-up at the Lounge. I was taken in for a surprise when I got there though; they had an exclusive live demo set up where all the lounge chairs were facing the demo table at the head of the café. There was a live demo of alternate coffee brewing methods. Most of the people at the gathering were from the media, and my two cents worth is – rather than asking questions about the coffee and food which were the highlights of the day, I thought they were more intent on extracting classified business information from the CCD team. “How much more profit will you make from this format, as compared to your regular coffee-shop format?”, “What kind of footfall are you expecting at the Lounge?” Why on earth would CCD give out such classified information? The media never stopped trying though. As they continued to try and dig some gold, I just sat there grimacing at them while I enjoyed my kaapis and some finger food that was being passed around. I was dying to ask Mr. Ramachander Raman (Head – Food & Beverages, CCD) so many questions about the different brewing methods that were being demonstrated, but I just had to wait awhile. I was hopeful of getting a chance to chat him up later, and luckily we did. The CCD team was really sweet to arrange a re-run of the demo just for us 3 food bloggers and a couple more people who came in later on and it was indeed a feast for both the eyes and the palate. I admittedly even told Mr. Raman that if I was big on filter kaapi before going to their event, they had successfully managed to stir up the Black Coffee Connoisseur in me. He sure was happy to hear that.
Before I tell you about the interesting alternate coffee brewing methods which were demonstrated to us, I must admit that the pictures in this post are rather blah. Confession: The pictures were taken with my mobile camera ‘cos I had felt too lazy to lug around the big camera. I don’t think I would ever dare make that mistake again, so please bear with the shaky pictures just this once.
1. Siphon (pronounced ‘sci-fun’): Also known as the Vacuum coffee method of Japanese origin, the siphon brew has a very sophisticated set-up which is brought right to the table and brewed in front of the customer using the choicest of coffee beans.
The coffee is brewed using two chambers or in the case, it is two little glass pots placed one above the other, and there is a flame underneath the lower pot. The vapour pressure and vacuum produce a light coffee that has a rich flavour in 7 minutes. This is the brew that bowled me over, and completely at that. Another interesting aspect of the Siphon is that they say that it indulges all 5 senses – aroma, fragrance, motion, touch and action. True that.
The Siphon comes to you at INR 125 (it makes 2 cups of coffee I think).
2. The French-press: This one is of French origin, and uses coarsely ground coffee beans. The coffee and water are placed together in the jar, stirred and allowed to brew for 4 minutes. The plunger is then pressed in gently to trap the coffee powder at the bottom of the jar, and voila, what you have left is flavourful yet light coffee.
This comes to you at INR 99.
3. Pour-over: This one is from the people of the US of A, and uses a very fine variety of coffee powder in a pouch. Place the pouch over a glass, and pour hot water into the pouch gradually at few second intervals, and you have a strong concoction that will have you jumping out of bed in the morning. Needless to say, this will make the perfect cup of morning coffee. I personally found this brew a tad bitter and strong too. I would say that this one in particular is better enjoyed with a teeny few drops of milk added to it.
This one comes to you at INR 65.
Another interesting brewing technique offered at the Lounge is ‘Mixology’. They have a range of what they call as ‘Coffeetinis’, their award-winning rank of four luscious mock-tinis served in classic martini glasses. Here’s one that was served to us. I particularly loved the date syrup-walnut-coated rim.
The Coffeetinis are priced at INR 99 and INR 109.
Oh wait, that’s not all. We had the honour of meeting Ms. Rhicha Sinha (Sr Manager – Beverages at CCD), and saw the making of her signature beverage – The ‘Tangy Curacao’, made from sweet and sour blue curacao syrup on the rocks, and topped with sweet-sour pineapple juice. The drink is the most colourful I have seen till date and what I riot of colours it has – blue from the curacao syrup, yellow from the pineapple juice, and lovely shades of blue, green and yellow when the pineapple juice is poured in. I couldn’t resist taking picture after picture after picture of the colourful drink. I told Ms. Sinha that the drink reminded me of a peacock’s feather, while she admitted that her Mom’s peacock-blue saree was the inspiration. If you asked me, its the perfect drink for a sunny afternoon, best enjoyed on a hammock with an un-down-puttable fiction title for company. Bliss!
The first picture of the Tangy Carucao is just after the pineapple juice is poured into the glass at your table. The second picture is right after the concoction in the glass is given a good stir. Don’t miss the wonderful colours in there.
A refreshing tall glass of the Tangy Carucao comes to you at INR 95.
By the time we had a go at all the coffee brews, coffeetinis and the Tangy Curacao, it was time for lunch, and we decided to order a couple of sandwiches and a pizza so we could taste a little bit of both. Ally and Irin decided on a couple of non-veg sandwiches. I ordered a sandwich with tawa paneer filling, chilli garlic spread and chilli ‘n cheese focaccia bread base which was served with some salad and potato nuggets on the side. We also ordered a kadai paneer pizza with tomato herb sauce. The pizza was your regular run-of-the-mill kind. But the sandwiches …aaah, they were simply finger.licking.good. Unfortunately, we got so absorbed in them that we forgot all about taking pictures. Too bad I say. On the contrary, maybe that is precisely what could drive you to pay the Lounge a visit, have a go at those wholesome sandwiches, and perhaps even share your pictures with me? As I write this post, I’m wishing I was at the Lounge, seated there and writing this while I treated myself to another wholesome sandwich filled with the fresh, succulent paneer. I’m raring to go to the Lounge again soon, so who knows – I might even meet you there :)
The medley of veg sandwiches come to you at INR 129 each and the ones with non-veg fillings are priced at INR 159. The veg pizzas range from INR 149 to INR 155. The non-veg pizzas are in the range of INR 149 to INR 165.
We were stuffed with all that food we pigged on, but that didn’t stop us from ordering some dessert. Knowing me well, you should have guessed by now that the dessert choices involved chocolate. Hell yeah! We ordered a ‘Chocolate Fantasy Fudge’ and one of CCD’s brand new desserts called ‘Melting Moments’. The Chocolate fantasy fudge was a rich chocolate cake with ganache filling and frosting – a typical chocolate dessert cake served with ice cream on the side, and was piquant no doubt. The ‘Melting Moments’ though, had us all melting like molten lava, and we were soon fighting over it. It had chocolate cake, chocolate sauce oozing out from the centre (or, I’m supposing was actually melted ganache) topped with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream that was melting fast and was only adding to the ‘wow’ factor. Even Ally’s 3-yr old did not want to be left behind in the spoon-fight, and offered me his Strawberry Smoothie in exchange for some extra spoonfuls of the melting moments. That is one smart kid. Ally, you should be proud of him :D
Look at that beautiful mess. None of us spoke after that bowl was set on the table, atleast not till the bowl was all cleaned up! And you could just see us rolling eyes at each other, and going “mmmmm…” with every spoonful. I’m glad you couldn’t see us then, cos we were sporting chocolate moustaches. Shhh! Don’t tell anyone.
The Chocolate Fantasy Fudge is priced at INR 69, while the Melting Moments comes at one tenner more, at INR 79.
One for the camera before we headed back home. Please ignore our bloated bellies…we were too full not to show. (From L-R: Me, Irin, Ally, Cute li’l Elijah (peeping at us from down there))
The fun didn’t quite end there, atleast not yet. The CCD team had left each of us a goodie-bag to be picked up on our way out. And what do you think it had in there? My eyes popped out when I peeked in! It was the French press coffee maker, and giving the French press company was a box of CCD’s exquisite ‘Dark Forest’ coffee powder. How sweet is that? Nothing could have stopped me from making my coffee in the French press the next morning, and I did just that! It was like a treat to the senses first thing in the day. Thanks heaps CCD team…did we love that goodie bag or what? ;)
We had a fantastic afternoon; a scintillating experience while CCD doused us in cup after cup of different brews of exquisite coffee, and I got out with a coffee-high despite the heavy lunch we had after all that coffee. Will I go back to the Lounge? Certainly yes!
For all you Bangaloreans, the Cafe Coffee Day Lounge is located in Sadashivnagar near Bashyam Circle and Sankey Tank.
Here’s my rating of the Lounge –
- Overall experience: 4.5/5
- Food: 4/5
- Ambience: 5/5
- Music: 5/5 (They had some of my favourite classic rock numbers playing, and I was unconsciously tapping my feet to the music and humming along too!)
- Service: 3.5/5 (I found the waiters a little sluggish even after most of the crowd had left)
- Personal favourite Alternate Brew: Siphon (A must-try)
- Personal favourite Refresher: The Tangy Carucao (Another must-try)
- Personal favourite in Main course: Tawa paneer sandwich with a chilli garlic spread and chilli ‘n cheese focaccia bread base, served with salad and potato nuggets on the side. (You should try and have a go at the pastas too. I will too, next time)
- Personal favourite Dessert: Melting Moments (Yet another must-try)
Thanks all over again CCD team, for having us over and treating us to the most lavish of coffee brews, and all that delectably good food. And thanks also for that thoughtful goodie-bag. We had a whale of a time, and I sure am coming back to the Lounge soon :)
Thanks too to Nidhi, CCD’s sweet PR, for making this happen.
A lot DID happen over coffee. Amen.