I read an article on ICH and got surrounded by the wonderful aroma of the south Indian coffee. Coffee connoisseurs may argue to the contrary but I still think Indian coffee has the best taste.
The India Coffee House chain was started by the Coffee Board in early 1940s, during British rule. In the mid 1950s the Board closed down the Coffee Houses, due to a policy change. They were restarted in the 1950s as a workers' co-operative that supports south India's small coffee farmers. When I googled it, came across info on it that I never had bothered with all the while I ate there.for eg.I didn't know that Kerala has the maximum number of ICH, 51!!With nearly 400 of them across India, aren't they the first chain of coffee shops?
ICH-Indian Coffee House.. its's economical(I don't want to say "cheap") , its fast food and it serves home grown excellent strong coffee. Low on ambiance though, these are one of the remnants of the olden times, now slowly giving away to the new hip "starbucks" style coffee shops in all the big cities.
Never a fan of the over priced bitter coffee here itself, even though the ambiance is deceptively inviting and charming; I do feel a twinge of regret that the youngsters there now think it's okay to get charged 150 (how much exactly?)Rupees for a coffee ( that probably grows locally and hence shouldn't cost as high) at the new coffee shops.... that's coffee for you at Western prices. It's a welcome change to have comfortable places to meet friends though the bill shouldn't set you back so much! I can't begrudge the change for the youngsters.. .I don't know how to say this without sounding hypocritical, but does getting a coffee shop like that up and running really cost that much? Not really! Couldn't the ICH's themselves shape up with the times?
See this writer supporting Indian Coffee Houses. According to him,"After having sampled the delights of coffee around the globe, I have come to conclude that there is only one place to drink it: India. And there is only one establishment to drink it in – the Indian Coffee House. There are around 160 branches throughout the country. I’ve visited branches in Shimla, Allahabad, Pondicherry, Calcutta, Trivandrum and many places beside and have never been disappointed. Whenever I visit a new place, one of the first things I do is find out whether there is an ICH in town."
World is round
I still love the spiralling turret shaped ICH in Trivandrum, strategically located outside the Railway Station, where we used to go for a quick bite before boarding the train heading home, or after getting off the train, before heading out. Good food, quick and easy..all the staples of local cuisine, but especially the veg cutlets.:)
The building was designed by the great Ar. Laurie Baker, well known for designing beautiful structures with masonry construction, creating privacy with brick jali walls, a perforated brick screen which invites a natural air flow to cool the buildings' interior, while creating intricate patterns of light and shadow inside. The coffee house has a walk that spirals upwards internally as you enter, and the seating is along the ramp, with the service core in the center....similar to the ramp in the Guggenhein Museum ...you walk viewing the exhibits without realizing that you are walking up a ramp and lo.. you are at the top looking down below.
After some more time, I guess the only people left frequenting these bastions will be the foodies, the foreigners, the expatriates and the travelers! If only these places re-marketed themselves as the bright, open, ethnic, sustainable, locavore places, they would realize how unique they are. Then as a western concept, the idea would take off and everybody would swarm there.
Read this article in the Guardian, which sparked off my thoughts and see the video of a ICH.
Related Posts- ICH in Bangalore to close
Indian Coffee House