An excited group of undergraduate students from stage1 visited Starbucks Coffee outlet at DLF Promenade as part of their company visit module. Starbucks is a familiar name for even the Indian consumers and the students were keen to understand how an all American brand would be faring in India and to know how they were differentiating themselves from the other players who were in the market before them.
The store was located at one end of the mall on the first floor close to the escalators which gives it a certain location advantage. The café was done up in brown and copper tones, its staff in green and white uniforms with the welcoming and pervasive smell of coffee. The students observed that the café was fairly full and quite a few of the customers were school students.
The store manager along with some of the staff held a coffee tasting session for the students where they learnt about the different aspects of how coffee is categorized and graded as per its strength and flavour. Each of the staff wore aprons which not only had their names written across them, but the name of their favourite coffee blend as well. The students learnt about the coffee journey starting with the discovery of coffee beans in Ethiopia and how the beans made the journey across the world ending up in almost all corners of the world. The students saw the coffee “passport” which each staff member carried that had the details of the various coffee growing regions with space for the comments and observations of the staff. The staff would write down their observations about a particular brew from time to time.
The brewed coffee was poured into cups and passed to the students for tasting. The next step resulted in a lot of laughs since the best way to drink coffee is to slurp it. The slurping action has two benefits. One, it causes the coffee to coat a larger part of the mouth resulting in more flavor and two it cools sufficiently so as not to burn the mouth. The students came up with different adjectives to describe the flavour of the coffee ranging from woody, to smoky to burnt. The café also provided a serving of mango custard to go along with the coffee, and the pairing of the sweet creamy mango with the strong dark coffee enhanced flavours of both the coffee and custard.
The students realized that a cup of coffee is not just a cup of coffee but has a history and tradition of its own, and how different café outlets are creating new and unique experiences around coffee to promote their brands and satisfy customers.