Catching up with friends over a cup of coffee is a delightful proposition for most people. Realizing the need for young people to hangout in an ambient atmosphere, the brand that pioneered the café culture in India is Café Coffee Day or CCD (as we know it).
Starting with its first café in Bangalore, in 1996, CCD took about six years to build up to 35 outlets by 2002. The next six years saw rapid growth, with the number of CCD outlets increasing to 595 by 2008. In 2012, the count stood at 1400 outlets. CCD is now the largest coffee retail chain in India.
The CCD chain is run by Coffee Day Global Ltd, formerly Amalgamated Bean Company owned by VG Siddhartha, which is among India’s top two coffee producers and exporters. Born into a family of land owning farmers from Chikmaglur, Siddhartha realized that the real value addition was in converting the beans into the perfect coffee drinking experience. That set the direction for the company.
A vertically integrated company, it does all activities needed for bringing the coffee ‘from bean to the cup’. This includes owning plantations, growing coffee, and even making coffee machines and furniture for the outlets. The vertical integration helps in reducing cost and gaining economies of operation.
At a CCD café, you’ll find a youthful ambience, with juke boxes, hot and cold coffee, pastries, brownies, smoothies etc. In addition, some cafés have merchandise such as coffee powders, cookies, mugs, coffee filters, etc.
These outlets are not just coffee-drinking places, but are hangouts for college going students and young working professionals. The quieter ones sometimes serve as an occasional meeting place for corporate.
The brand has a wide reach and penetration in India, with outlets on inter –city highways, and at religious places. In addition to this, the company has CCD Express (kiosks for take-away) and vending machines in offices.
With 1600+ outlets across 28 states in India, CCD, the largest coffee retail chain in India, brand now faces competition from the likes of Starbucks, Costa Coffee, Gloria Jeans, Barista and Mocha.
To keep up with the growing competition CCD further launched two other formats, The Lounge and CCD Square, to target different segments.
The premium format Square, aimed at coffee connoisseurs, offers single-origin coffee, prepared using classic beans sourced from a single estate in one country. You have a choice of international coffees of different origins like Columbia, Guatemala, and also from specific estates in India. Breakfast, lunch and dinner is also served in addition to coffee. This format, limited in numbers, is found only in a few cities and mainly caters to the corporate circle.
Positioned midway between the regular cafes and the exclusive Square format, is the Lounge, which is targeted at office going crowd and families. A typical Lounge would be seen at the airport or a premium mall, and is about 25-30 percent more expensive than a regular CCD outlet. Here the beverage is paired not just with fast food but also with gourmet cuisine.
The brand has established its international presence via 16 outlets in Pakistan, Austria, the Czech Republic and Malaysia and UAE.,and its parent company Coffee Day Enterprises Ltd, of which Coffee Day Global Ltd is a subsidiary has filed for an IPO in July, 2015.
Interestingly, a story in Forbes mentioned that VG Siddhartha, the recluse founder of CCD, spent a New Year eve at a CCD outlet near Calcutta’s Woodburn Street. Wearing the CCD uniform, he engaged in serving customers, greeting and seating them, taking their orders and settling their cheques. Now, that’s something exceptional, isn’t it?
Image credit: From the Twitter timeline of Cafe Coffee Day (@CafeCoffeeDay)
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