Coming from a city like Chennai, Monday mornings and downpours are a celebration. For Bangalore, a mundane every city is jealous of. In a city which is known for its pub culture and sweet sambar, an underground coffee culture was only eminent. With tradition coming of age, evolving over time, time was ripe for artisanal coffee houses to sit beside their more revered counterparts.
During my research on artisanal coffee bars, came a name much loved by today's Bengaluru. Third Wave's menu include a gamut of unconventional flavours with their lattes and cold brews. For a person being as stubborn as a mule when I choose a cup of well-brewed tea over the instant coffee that I get readily available back home, sampling a few cups of Third Wave's exceptionally unique coffee, so intricately brewed made me inquisitive about their journey.
In conversation with Ayush Bathwal, one of the co-founders of Third Wave Coffee Roasters.
Could you walk us through the journey of how Third Wave came to be?
It began when I was working in San Diego for a couple of years after my graduation. That was when I started drinking good coffee. I liked the hipster looking coffee shops and I remember having a cup of manually brewed black coffee there which changed the way I felt about it. I realized it is such a dynamic beverage where you can play with different notes making it so unique in its character.
The next step was understanding the way coffee is grown in farms and various aspects that play a role in bringing out flavours while growing coffee. The baristas there had interesting stories to say about why they chose a particular coffee or how they are helping a farm come up with better infrastructure. I was impressed by the community aspect of speciality coffee shops in San Diego. Each of them had its own vibe and I, along with my co-founder, decided to bring that experience to India where people could have a productive atmosphere while enjoying a cup of coffee and good food that goes along with it.
I moved back to Bangalore and we did a lot of research on everything we could for a year and opened the first outlet of Third Wave in September, 2016.
What was your approach while establishing this space?
We kept a minimal approach for the ambience because by branding ourselves too much we would be restricting people to develop their own perspective and a sense of identity with this place. This helps us create micro communities wherever we are present.
We observed many unique flavours on the menu. Could you give us an insight on the process of creating it?
Speciality coffees are traceable and processed carefully. Coffee from Ethiopia and Kenya are very fruity and floral whereas coffee from Guatemala tends to be rich and flavourful with earthy notes and often tastes like chocolate. That's what we do here as well. We work with single origin farms which means the coffee is from one farm and is traceable. Every farm has a very specific flavour profile to it and we want to retain that. My co-founder Anirudh and I stood behind the counter at the first outlet for 8 months to take every order and understand the taste preferences of our customers and we realized that people are willing to experiment with flavours if educated on what makes a good cup of coffee.
With the evolution of the coffee industry, how do you stay relevant with the style that you have developed?
Even though coffee is being consumed in large quantities down South, we are trying to stay relevant yet unconventional by not manipulating the coffee too much with added flavours but by retaining its natural flavour as much as possible. We have some exciting flavours like the blended fresh coconut water and jaggery or fresh orange juice and organic jaggery to cold brewed coffee and so on. People are also learning how to differentiate between a good and bad cup of coffee and are learning the intricacies of brewing it in different methods.
What have you been working on lately?
We are working on trying to launch nitro coffee which is a cold brewed coffee infused with nitrogen which gives the coffee a creamy texture. We are trying something interesting with the flavour and should launch it in a month or so.
Is your brand language singular through all the services you provide?
The basic idea of Third Wave is to provide an exceptional coffee experience. The whole idea is to be minimal, accessible and simple so the focus is on the product and the service and not to do too much around it. But there is always room to be better and as we speak we continue to evolve a set of rules that'll help us go in the right direction. The idea is not to settle.
Do you have any non-coffee methods to engage the community?
As we have micro communities of freelancers, designers and people from start-ups coming in a lot, we started focusing on doing events every two weeks which will engage the community more. One such event saw a community of artists, illustrators, writers come together and explore how art and culture can drive us towards a more sustainable future. One other interesting event we hosted was a coffee tasting session where we explored and discussed about the coffee we brought back from the World Barista Championship. We have events for our coffee community where we teach them different brewing methods as well. People are very enthusiastic about these events.
With Indian coffee consumption doubling over the last two decades, how do you see the Industry progressing in the next few years?
It’s all about giving the right experience. There is a lot of room for brands like us to open many more physical centres as people are looking forward to experience a great cup of coffee at places other than the standard coffee houses or at home. Maybe what a cup of coffee means for a few is to simply sit down, read or write and take things easy. We want to be able to promote slow living and not restrict that from happening.
With niche coffee brands like Third Wave coming into the picture, do you think you guys are influencing the way coffee is being perceived as a culture in India?
We certainly are! In India, drinking coffee has always been a cosmopolitan affair. We need to create a cult around the brand like few of the biggest brands in the world such as Apple, Tesla, Nike and so on, so that people feel like they are a part of a community when they use your products or service. However, Third Wave aims to be accessible than just being aspirational.
What are some of the sustainable practices you have incorporated atThird Wave?
We are working on eliminating plastic from all aspects of Third Wave. The first step was to use stainless steel straws at the outlets. We are also constantly working with our local community, customers and other businesses around us to see how we can use things produced locally.
Images & words: Chaithraa Jagadeesha
Third Wave Coffee Roasters tracks its origins to the city of Bangalore. You can check them out here - https://thirdwavecoffee.in