A key ingredient in the drink popular among the young is soda imported from France, which alone costs Rs 12 each glass. Siddhartha makes a mental note of it. Later, that Saturday, at Chikamagalur, an estate town on the Western Ghats 260 km northwest of Bangalore, he quizzes Pradeep Kenjige, the head of a team of 15 food technologists who develop new beverages for CCD, as Cafe Coffee Day is also known. Siddhartha is told that the development team has successfully cloned the French soda for taste and effervescence, and can make it locally at one-third the imported cost.
SIDDHARTHA, THE PERSONA
An acceptance that is critical to Siddhartha's ambition that CCD will rank among the top three cafe chains in the world before 2018. Market leader Starbucks runs 16,635 cafes, Dunkin Donuts 8,800, Tim Horton's 3,527 and Costa 1,511 globally, according to data from brand consultancy Harish Bijoor Consults Inc., and if Siddhartha can break into that league, he will be the first entrepreneur from outside the US and Europe to do so. And, a very prosperous man.
Siddhartha's story, never told before in deep detail, is best narrated with his first CCD outlet on Bangalore's Brigade Road, the city's main street for teenagers, tourists, and city residents out for a beer or high street shopping.
Opening for business in August 1996, the two-level cafe was schizophrenic: it served traditional south Indian filter coffee on the ground floor, and cappuccino and espresso on the mezzanine floor. Espresso was both a foreign word and taste for most customers and many frowned at the dark brew.