March 11, 2019

A Specialty Coffee Shop Tour of Gujarat & Rajasthan


India’s northwestern states of Gujarat and Rajasthan are home to millions of people and thousands of years of rich history. Mahatma Gandhi made his home at an ashram in the Gujarat city of Ahmedabad, and Rajasthan is home to the pink city of Jaipur, a charming UNESCO World Heritage site.

But these states are also home to busy modern cities with their share of specialty coffee shops. No alcohol is legally served in Gujarat, and for some people coffee takes its place in social interactions. The neighbouring state of Rajasthan has much more liberal alcohol laws, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for specialty coffee shops too.

Read on to learn more about the specialty coffee highlights of Gujarat and Rajasthan.

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some baristas from india brew coffee for clients

Baristas at work in Meraki. Credit: Meraki

Why These Five?

Coffee has long been in demand in this area of India, and there is no shortage of cafés to supply it. But the coffee shops highlighted here not only offer high quality coffee, they also have captivating stories.

barista brewing a coffee

Brijesh Bachkaniwala prepares a coffee. Credit: Meraki

1. Meraki

Owned and operated by Brijesh Bachkaniwala, this Surat coffee shop started out in a residential property and originally operated for just three hours a day. Its popularity grew and today it’s a fully equipped café that serves more than 300 guests a day.

Brijesh is generous in sharing his passion, educating his customers about coffee and encouraging them to try pour overs instead of the milky, sweet drinks popular in India.

Meraki uses coffee from around the world, but is particularly keen on Indian coffee including that from the Kelagur estate, which produces both tea and coffee and experiments with processing techniques.

This coffee shop is also a cultural hub, hosting poetry slams, storytelling sessions, stand-up comedy, and musical acts in the evenings.

a barista brews on a V60 for a client

A barista prepares a pour over at Meraki. Credit: Meraki

Where108, SNS Platina, Someshwara Enclave, Vesu, Surat, Gujarat 395007
Espresso MachineLa Marzocco Linea PB 2group AV
GrinderMahlkonig K30, Compak R8
Coffee OfferingsEspresso-based drinks, pour over
Must-Try DrinkPour over made with single origin beans
Retail OfferingsRoasted coffee beans, brewing accessories
Food & Other DrinksHot chocolate, tea, and soft drinks. Baked goods and sandwiches.
Nearby SightsSurat is known for diamond cutting and textiles. As one of India’s oldest cities, it also has numerous historical sites. Meraki is close to the Tapi River walkway and Science Centre Surat, an interactive museum with a planetarium and diamond gallery.
the exterior of a coffee shop in india

The exterior of Curious Life Coffee Roasters. Credit: Curious Life Coffee Roasters

2. Curious Life Coffee Roasters

The owner of Curious Life, Neeraj Sheoran, was a lieutenant colonel in the Indian army before suffering a spinal injury that forced him to leave. While working in the Democratic Republic of Congo, he was introduced to coffee roasting. After the injury, he learned about third wave coffee and began a new career.

But his military discipline remains. Neeraj is a stickler for perfection and won’t serve anything he isn’t 100% happy with. He tells me, “We don’t sugarcoat – if something is wrong, it is wrong.”

The café opened in September 2015 and is a great spot to spark up a conversation about coffee or simply sit and enjoy the high-quality drinks.

Customer service is delivered with just as much precision as the coffee. If a customer leaves a bad review, Neeraj simply requests that they come back to try again.

a latte art on a cappuccino

Latte art served at Curious Life Coffee Roasters. Credit: Curious Life Coffee Roasters

WhereC 54 A, Sarojini Marg, Panch Batti, C Scheme, Ashok Nagar, Jaipur, Rajasthan 302001
Espresso MachineLa Marzocco Linea PB, La Marzocco Strada, La Marzocco GS3
GrinderMahlkonig EK43 (4), Mahlkonig K30, Mahlkonig PEAK
Coffee OfferingsEspresso-based drinks, V-60 pour over, AeroPress, siphon, cold brew
Must-Try DrinkFlat white made with Shyira beans from Rwanda or a V-60 with Konyu beans from Kenya
Retail OfferingsRoasted coffee beans
Food & Other DrinksBaked goods, waffles, pancakes
Nearby SightsJaipur is a charming tourist attraction in itself. Explore the Pink City and its many historical sites. Curious Life is close to Sawai Jai Singh Ji Statue, Rambagh Palace, and several public parks.
some baristas behind the coffee bar in india

Baristas behind the bar at Zen Cafe. Credit: Zen Cafe

3. Zen Cafe

Ahmedabad is mostly famous for being the home to Mahatma Gandhi’s Sabarmati ashram. But today it’s home to some of India’s most creative industries. Zen Cafe is a small chain that offers fresh salads, artisanal bread, and delicious coffee prepared in multiple ways.

The first location of Zen Cafe opened in 2008 at Amdavad ni Gufa, an underground art gallery. It’s a quaint, calm space that hosts students, visitors, and locals who come to work over a cup of delicious coffee. A tiny Nutella-based cookie is usually served with your drink.

a barista makes a beautiful latte art

A barista pours latte art. Credit: Zen Cafe

WhereAmdavad Ni Gufa, University Rd, Navrangpura, Ahmedabad, Gujarat 380009
Espresso MachineAstoria, Rancilio
GrinderMazzer, Mahlkonig, Anfim
Coffee OfferingsPremium Indian coffees and guest roasts from non-Indian roasters
Must-Try DrinkAeroPress made with Indian coffee
Retail OfferingsFocaccia, multigrain, and sourdough loaves that are baked in-shop
Food & Other DrinksFull menu including sandwiches, salads, and pizzas. Desserts, teas, smoothies
Nearby SightsTake a look at the contemporary art and garden at Amdavad Ni Gufa.
a bussy coffee shop in india

The busy interior of Blue Tokai Coffee Roasters. Credit: Blue Tokai Coffee Roasters

4. Blue Tokai Coffee Roasters

Blue Tokai Coffee Roasters is a roastery and small chain of cafés that was opened in 2013. It has a focus on making organic, sustainable coffee accessible to all and even has opportunities for customers to roast their own beans.

Owners Matt Chitharanjan and Namrata Asthana tell me, “From the very beginning, we had significant amount of customers ordering our coffee from Jaipur and the market here is quite evolved in terms of experimenting with new things. Our baristas here probably interact with customers more than in any other city and that is one of the reasons we set up a small roaster here, to give customers the ability to roast their own coffee under the guidance of our team.”

Try a coffee flight, which you can order either hot or cold. The Attikan Estate coffee served as an espresso has notes of cocoa, fruit, and English toffee. If you’re in the mood for a pour over, try one from the Thogarihunkal Estate for flavor notes of vanilla, almond, and citrus.

Blue Tokai’s Jaipur location is a laidback space where regulars and tourists come together in an airy, green environment. It’s the ideal place to lounge and savor some of the finest organic coffees grown in India.

a breakfast with two cappuccinos

Lunch at Blue Tokai Coffee Roasters. Credit: Blue Tokai Coffee Roasters

WhereA-5, First Floor, inside Suryavanshi Pearl, Sardar Patel Marg, C Scheme, Jaipur 302001
Espresso MachineLa Marzocco
GrinderMahaloking EK 43, Mahaloking K30
Coffee OfferingsEspresso-based drinks, pour over, cold brew, nitro coffee
Must-Try DrinkIced pour over or cold brew
Retail OfferingsRoasted coffee beans, branded merchandise
Food & Other DrinksFull food menu, tea
Nearby SightsExplore the many historical attractions of Jaipur. Blue Tokai is close to Amrapali Museum, Sawai Jai Singh Ji Statue, and several public parks.
coffee being brewed on a french press

A French press coffee in progress. Credit: Café 651

5. Café 651

Jodhpur is the second largest city in Rajasthan and a UNESCO world heritage site. Traditional temples, grand palaces, and chowks (open marketplaces) are just some of the attractions. It’s also known for rich desserts including ghee-fried Ghevar, syrupy pancake-like Malpua, and saffron- and pistachio-packed Motichur Ke Laddu.

Annant Baheti chose this fascinating city to set up Café 651 in 2018. Locals and tourists enjoy third wave coffee together here. A particularly delightful treat is the Vietnamese styled mango coffee, which is only available in summer. Based on a coffee blend from Karma Kaapi in Bengaluru, it’s a sweet but acidic coffee infused with condensed milk and mango puree.

The café uses fresh and local ingredients and every coffee has a food pairing. Just ask a barista for their recommendation.

a barista brews a coffee in a french press

A barista prepares a French press. Credit: Café 651

Where651, 11th C Road Sardarpura, Jodhpur 342003
Espresso MachineWPM (single groove)
GrinderWPM and Hario Electric
Coffee OfferingsEspresso-based drinks, pour over, siphon, filter kaapi, French press, cold brew
Must-Try DrinkFilter coffee decoction with coconut and jaggery syrup, coffee tonic with star anise and cucumber syrup, and Vietnamese mango coffee in the summer
Retail OfferingsRoasted beans, brewing supplies
Food & Other DrinksA globally inspired menu with local touches, whole leaf teas, mocktails
Nearby SightsMehrangarh Fort, Umaid Bhawan Palace and the Jaswant Thada clock tower

Gujarat and Rajasthan have a wealth of attractions and countless cafés. But these are the ones that have fascinating stories and high quality coffee. Whether you’re in Jaipur, Surat, or elsewhere in this part of India, make sure to add at least one of these coffee shops to your itinerary.

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