Coffee, Conversations and More
it's the vibe'!
"Coffee, comfort food, and good people is the vibe you crave whenever stepping out to visit a café," says Ambalikaa Singh, a woman living in Bandra, and a regular at the local cafes.
Subko, is a small coffee house and bakery nestled in a tiny lane at Chapel Hill, Bandra. It is well-known for serving 'homegrown coffee' and a varied, meticulously chosen collection of delicious baked goods. The coffee shop is in an old bungalow, and was started in March 2020, three days before the first lockdown was implemented in India.
However, the lockdown did not deter their spirit and they devised ways of continuing business through online orders and deliveries of cold brews, chocolates, baked goods, and their specialty coffee beans. Even though it started majorly during the pandemic, under the lockdown, it survived through online orders and gained popularity from around September. when the place was open to customers at 50% occupancy.
But what makes Subko so popular both amongst the locals and visitors? Pratish, a senior barista at Subko said that they, "bring green coffee beans majorly from South India, particularly Karnataka and some Arabica batches from Meghalaya. We do the roasting and tasting four-five times in order to get the perfect blend to cater to the customer's palette, which is something you will not find at other coffee places. Everything we sell is made in-house.
ll the items from the breads to roasting and brewing of the coffee are done by us. This maintains a certain quality in the products since we put in a lot of time and energy in perfecting each item that we serve on the menu."
Manish, another barista at Subko showed how a pour over is made. He says that the coffees are freshly made for each order. Subko is usually filled with a lot of regulars
For those seeking a place that satiates their much-needed caffeine cravings, and also provides them a space to work comfortably, Subko offers both The free wi-fi and multiple charging points are always a bonus here. Yazad, who lives in Hill Road, says that Subko gives him the perfect space to indulge in his love for coffee and the need for a good workplace.
However, even though Subko is second home to loads of locals, the hype created around the place and its coffee attracts heaps of visitors as well. Seema, Nidhi, and Gayatri who live in Mumbai but visited Subko for the first time said, "we had a really good experience with good food and a good vibe. We prefer this sort of boutique café culture which is not very prevalent in India when compared to the other more commercialised outlets."
This tiny coffee shop pays attention to detail and has their main outlet in Bandra but soon opened a second outpost in Byculla. Rohit, who handles service at Subko said that earlier, all the roasting and processes were done at the Bandra outlet but were later shifted to the Byculla East outlet as it has more space.
Ambalikaa Singh has been living in Bandra since the past two years and is a regular at Subko loves the comfort that the place offers. She usually comes here in the afternoons with a book, orders an iced latte, spends hours reading, and also strikes up conversations with others. She loves how even though this coffee shop is built in a small space, it is divided into small pockets with varied seating arrangements to form a library area, an open space with longer tables, an inside corner with sofas providing a more chill or relaxed environment and also an outdoor seating area.
This caters to a variety of needs of the customers and provides everyone with a space suited to their purpose of coming to the cafe. It is a small yet very well-kept and neat coffee shop.
Singh said the seating arrangement at Subko makes customers sit close to each other andsaus that it is not about the physical space but the mental space that still exists, as everyone is sitting in close proximity to each other but also minding their own business. "I like that Subko is less noisy than other commercialised coffee outlets. There is always a buzz at the place but is not intrusive," she said, adding that the crowd she finds at Subko is very edgy and one of her favourite parts about the place is meeting creative people.
Apart from Subko, other cafes in Bandra have also flourished based on the impeccable food and the ambience they have created. Greenr café also started in Bandra in 2021 when the pandemic was at a peak. This cafe too kept afloat primarily through deliveries and opening up the café for a restricted time. This café attracts people because of serving plant-based food, which is 80% vegan, with 995 dishes that can be made vegan on the customer's request. Vishal, the café manager of Greenr said, "it was certainly a challenge to open the place when the coronavirus was spreading rapidly, but I am proud that the café has become popular among the locals. We make everything in-house ,and what attracts customers is that we provide vegan and plant-based food that tastes very good."
A customer at Greenr said that she liked the aesthetic of the place with its minimalistic décor, bookshelves, comfortable work spaces, and of course the organic food. She was fascinated by the café's typewriter which added to its aesthetic. The white walls with green plants, and photo hangings create a positive atmosphere where one can spend hours.
Pali Bhavan is another place which has antique furnishings and jazz music playing in the background. Bazil, the manager says that the décor was brought from all over India, and the cafe serves Indian food.
Another famous café in Bandra is Candies, which is a Portuguese bungalow painted beautifully and converted into a café. It is extremely popular among the locals and you will always see the place teeming with a range of people from joggers coming for breakfast after their morning run, college students, and other people who come to enjoy the vibe of the place.
Three young regulars, Jas, Arshi, and Uzma say that they love the food at Candies which is freshly prepared and served "we love the garlic bread, keema roll, and the super fresh bakery products that are to die for. However, since this place is so popular and everything is made fresh, they often run out of items which are highly demanded and new batches take long to come in."