Chai Makes Way For Coffee: India Embraces Starbucks

By: Saira Malhotra

Delhi, India: brutally hot in the summer and brutally cold in the winter. A city where meal, snack and dessert options adjust to reflect changes in a climatic backdrop, yet there remained one consistency- chai. An integral part of the day, chai represents not just the hot beverage steeped with tea leaves and spices, but also a homely setting with company allowing for moments to regroup and share happiness and sorrow.

Today, the fundamental elements of getting recharged and exchanging notes continue to be a required part of the day. However, the beverage and venue have changed. In just under a couple of decades, India has witnessed the rise of coffee houses, a trend off set by coffee lounge company 'Cafe Coffee Day'. There are now thousands of inviting coffee shops all over the country with their own signature look and feel, offering Western snacks of biscotti and donuts as well as traditional Indian high tea snacks of pakoras and samosas.

For India, whether the organic preference for people is tea or coffee, people are drawn to the lifestyle coffee houses bring with them. Whether it's simply to drop in to get a quick fix, a social gathering or a place to read the paper, these comfortable and modern joints provide an instant experience.

As the market share for coffee houses continues to grow, other global players are setting up shop. This week, NPR reported that Starbucks will be launching its coffee shops with corporate giant The Tata Group across the country.

India is not the only country to experience a cultural shift from tea to coffee, the UK offered up part of this tea drinking nation to Coffee houses, such as, Costa Coffee, Coffee Republic and Starbucks. Not only do companies like Starbucks offer coffee, but they are also tastemakers for other food and beverages. In the way that they have influenced non-coffee drinking nations to drink coffee, they have also encouraged coffee nations to embrace tea, coined as 'chai lattes'.

Photo: ELPhotographia

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