Following a 50-year-old tradition and legacy in a tiny space in Shankarpuram, Bengaluru, the Brahmin’s Coffee Bar is one of the much loved coffee hubs for the Bangaloreans. On every corner of Bengaluru’s streets one can find such small cafes but the Brahmin’s Coffee Bar has been famed for its age-old traditional taste of South Indian dishes and inheritance. In an age of multi-cuisine fast food joints this tiffin (snacks) cum coffee hub is famous for its signature dish — the ‘one-by-two’ coffee, idli-vada-kara bhat-kesari bhat combo with delicious chutney. As I step into this quaint coffee shop, I find it overcrowded; people are enjoying their filter coffee and it is a sight to watch the coffee master make the milk frothy and mix the heady coffee decoction to it. In a far corner is another staff whose role was to keep dishing out the chutney. I also note that no sambhar or rasam is served with the tiffin unlike the customary South Indian style.
It is a self-service system and there is no seating facility. Rather the tiny hall has tables on which customers place their plates and eat their food standing, and more people spill out on to the road too. Radha Krishna Adiga, the owner of the café, recalls the early days which led to the setting up of the shop. He says, “My father K V Nageshwar Rao, along with my mother K N Saraswati from Udupi district in Karnataka, started preparing and selling some South Indian dishes on the streets of Bengaluru for their livelihood in the 1930s.”
In 1965, Rao and his eldest son N Shankarnarayan commenced a small venture under the name, ‘Brahmin’s Coffee Bar’. Rao’s wife started making kara bhat (Upma) with chutney and that became an instant hit among the customers. In 1970 with increasing popularity a few more items such as vada, idli and kesari bhat, a sweet dish, were added to the menu. Since 1972 Radha Krishna Adiga, Rao’s another son, took over the venture. Today, with over 14 employees, the coffee shop is a landmark joint in the city. It opens at 6 am and runs till noon, and in the evening, from 3 to 7 pm. The staff begin cooking at 4 am every day. The unique selling point of this small joint is the consistent taste since 1965 when it was popular for its homely preparations. Today, many customers in and around Shankarapuram and Basavangudi take parcels home, packed with extra helpings of chutney.
“To maintain an age-old tradition and follow the legacy we believe in the philosophy of consistency. Most of my clients are coming from the initial years and I know them by their name and faces,” says Adiga, adding that with a boom in the IT industry since 1995 people have migrated to Bengaluru, and that “the sumptuous taste and consistency in our food items” has drawn more clientele to his food joint. With the Brahmin’s success other similar South Indian food joints are running with similar names; but people too are very smart as they are well-acquainted with the taste of the Brahmin’s original and authentic food. With longstanding quality and taste this food joint is giving tough competition to other similar South Indian food spaces. Loyal customers for decades drive long distance on weekends just for their love of the Brahmin’s filter coffee and chutney.
The writer is member of RC Jaipur, RID 3054.
Pictures by Anubha Jain