Research & development seems to be the new catch-phrase at Cafe Coffee Day (CCD), the retail wing of India’s largest coffee conglomerate, the about Rs 1,500-crore Amalgamated Bean Coffee Trading Company. CCD has put together a strong 30-member innovation and research team, including food and beverages (F&B) experts, coffee specialists, organoleptic experts and biochemists, to brew a new culture of innovation in the company.
“Innovation is not just about bringing in new products but tracking trends that will be in the market in the next six to nine months and how do we make those trends relevant to the Indian palate. We get people who are experts in dairy technology, F&B, including experts in desserts, bakery and non-bakery products,” Amalgamated Bean Coffee Trading Company (ABCTCL) director Venu Madhav told FE.
The chain’s innovation core team, which includes experts in specific food categories, are aided by a central brand team who provides market research intelligence on trends in F&B and youth behaviour and operations team for implementation at the cafes. The company’s R&D facility at Chikmagalur, Karnataka, also provides inputs on shelf life, processing, large-scale production of a specific product and managing the entire supply chain. The R&D team has a good mix of food technologist, agrologists and mixologists.
“A recent innovation is the crunchy frappe, wherein customers filled us in on how they would like some variations in the existing frappes. Our research threw back the trend of a ‘liquid snack’ worldwide. The combination resulted in creating a mixture of crunchy oreos in a creamy chocolatey meltdown. Another creation has been the egg wrap, a light lunch or snack option. It is a hit with our consumers,” said Madhav.
Currently the organised cafe market in the country is pegged at around Rs 1,200 crore growing at 15-20% annually. CCD, which is aiming at 2,000 outlets by December 2015, currently boasts of around 1,550 outlets across the country.
“In terms of beverages, we have experts in dairy-based and non-dairy based products. We also have equipment experts who decide on the kind of blenders that should be used to create a certain thickness of a particular drink,” he said.
Recently the world’s largest coffee retailer Starbucks forayed into south India with the opening of an outlet in Bangalore, a city that’s home to Cafe Coffee Day, which opened its first outlet in the country’s IT capital way back in 1996 on Brigade