In Conversation With Mysore Concerns Filter Coffee | Indie Eats
If you’ve ever been to Matunga and taken a stroll around King’s Circle, you’re sure to have gotten a whiff of the heady, rich scent of fresh coffee beans. The source of this divine aroma? Mysore Concerns, a one-stop shop for all coffee lovers that’s been around since 1939.
When we heard of people flocking over all the way from Panvel and Thane just to snap up a few packets of coffee powder here, we thought we’d speak to the man behind the business. Between hearing about the Maharaja of Mysore’s visit to the store and inhaling the excellent scent of coffee beans, there’s a lot that we learned while chatting with owner, Mr. Srikant Venkatram. Read on for all the deets.
Could you take us back to 1939, when the store first opened?
The store was opened by my father, Mr. Venkatram and it wasn’t the ‘just coffee’ store that you see today. It used to be one of the only provisions stores in Matunga where we would also stock condiments like sambhar powder, rasam powder, molga podi apart from oil, Coimbatore butter and more. The response was great, all the more because Matunga was like a mini-Madras then and there were plenty of South Indians who would come to the store and chat with my father while they made purchases. Some would even bring us coffee beans which they would roast at home. We would grind it for them in our house and have it ready for them the very same day. That was how it was all those years ago.
What gave rise to the idea of having a store that caters solely to coffee?
When I took over the business from my father, I visibly noticed that the coffee powder was what sold remarkably well and there were other stores cropping up that were selling oil, butter and the other items we would stock. So, I decided to make this a store dedicated to freshly roasted coffee powder.
It being a family-run store, how much of an active role did you play back then?
I was 16 when I began to work at the store. I had five sisters and being the only son, a huge chunk of the responsibility was on my shoulders. But I began by playing a very organizational role. I would manage the staff and also supervise the grinding and the transport of the coffee beans. I learned a lot about the business that way.
Tell us about the bean to cup and coffee roasting process.
We follow a set pattern when it comes to Mysore Concerns coffee. We procure the beans from Bangalore and bring them to Mumbai. The roasting and grinding is done in Mumbai itself. We have our own units in Mahim, Bhendi Bazaar and Bhandup for this because roasting gives out a lot of smoke emission. The roasted beans are transported to our store for grinding and they come in on a daily basis. The final grinding takes place in-store itself. So drinking a cup of coffee made with our powder is as authentic as it gets!
What type of coffee bean is used in your powders?
There are only two basic types of coffee beans, Arabica and Robusta, which are the major grades. We use both. Another thing to note is that we do not use chicory in our powders, which affects the flavour. Ours is a pure, through and through coffee blend.
What is the best memory you have of your store?
Maybe not of the store, but the best memory that I have associated with this store is the memory of my father grinding the coffee beans himself. We had a huge grinder at home and he would sit down and grind the beans without complaining. It was a joy to watch him be so involved in all the aspects of his business and I learned a lot from him by watching how he treated not just his employees but also his coffee beans. The Maharaja of Mysore was also a good friend of my father’s and he had visited our store many years ago, so that is something else I will always remember.
We’ve heard that you supply your coffee powder to popular restaurant chains. Could you name some?
Yes, we supply our coffee to a number of restaurants like Café Mysore, Thambi, Arya Bhavan and also the Shiv Sagar group of hotels.
What according to you, is the best part about running a coffee business?
The best part about running my coffee business is its location. We are located in Matunga, which is a hub for experimental foodies and businesses. Moreover, Matunga still is the heart of the South Indian population so having the store here allows me to connect with my roots, which is an added bonus. So, undoubtedly for me, the best part about running my coffee business is where I run it.
So, the next time you’re in Matunga (or mini Madras as Mr.Srikant likes to call it), just follow your nose and see for yourself why this spot is so famous. They have just one standard roast so while you’re here, maybe pick up a packet of freshly ground coffee powder, too? One thing’s for sure – you won’t regret it.
Address: 391, Circle House, Sri Shankar Mutt Road, Opposite Mahesjwari Udhyan, Telang Cross Rd Number 3, Kings Circle, Matunga, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400019