Wake up and smell the Starbucks

Sep 30 2013, 11:52 IST
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SummaryBangalores homegrown Caf Coffee Day now faces real competition

Bangalores homegrown Caf Coffee Day now faces real competition

Bangalore is eagerly awaiting the battle of the coffee chains. And it is going to be as epic a battle as the city has ever seen. On the one side is the namma Bengaluru homegrown chain, Caf Coffee Day. On the other is the worlds biggest coffee company and caf chain, Starbucks.

As Starbucks prepares to surge into Caf Coffee Days home ground, Bangalore, in the coming months with an explosion of cafs, Caf Coffee Day already has the ground well covered. Nevertheless, it is preparing to counter with a slew of cafs at upscale locations. Both are said to be fighting pitched battles over prime real estate locations in the city.

It is not exactly a David versus Goliath fight, not even a decaf version. The Seattle, Washington-based American coffee company and chain has 20,891 stores in 62 countries. It has less than two dozen cafs in the country currently, but Starbuckss CEO is famously on the record that he expects India to be among the chains top five markets. But it was Caf Coffee Day that was the first off the starting block here (the first CCD opened in Bangalores Brigade Road in 1996 as a cybercafe), and it now has over 1,500 cafs in India and some two dozen overseas, including in Prague and Vienna. It will add another 100 cafs by the years end. It is refurbishing its menu by adding more variety and making it international, even if it isnt openly admitting that it is doing so to counter Starbucks.

Caf Coffee Days founder, V.G. Siddhartha, 54, hails from a planter family in the Chikmagalur hills, the site where the first coffee bush was grown in India. Siddhartha is an entrepreneur and venture capitalist whose investments have included software firms like Infosys and MindTree. His caf chain initiated Indians to the difference between a mocha and a macchiato and controls nearly two-thirds of the caf market in the country. It is the friendly neighbourhood caf where students gather to gossip, office workers grab a break and homemakers meet. Many of its cafs serve as meeting rooms for one-man businesses and freelance professionals. In Bangalore, some Caf Coffee Days are known as startup hubs, where up and coming entrepreneurs converge.

Starbucks has the heft of the Tata Group behind it, after the two signed a joint venture to form Tata Starbucks in

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