Advith and Abhijit Shetty tell us about their passion for the coffee business.
Besides being siblings, thereby resembling each other physically, Advith and Abhijit Shetty, have one more common trait between them. Their passion for coffee. Managing Directors at Seven Beans Coffee Company, the newest entrants into the global coffee market from India, this debonair duo have big plans for their coffee brand and are going the whole hog to make it a leader in its niche market. RITZ meets the brothers whose primary focus in life is to bring the best brewed cuppa to their consumers.
Location: JW Marriott Bengaluru
Advith Shetty is presently juggling three roles. That of Managing Director at Seven Beans Coffee Company, as the man behind City Living service apartments and as a doting dad to his new-born daughter. While his brother Abhijit Shetty is a coffee roaster and a trekker. He is also the Co-Founder and chief roaster in the company. With these dual roles, he derives immense satisfaction and an opportunity to explore and hone his talents.
The verdant coffee estates of Chikmagalur in Karnataka were the lawns on which Advith and Abhijit grew up. Observing their family members nurture the plantations and reap the harvests time and again, they knew they had a close association with the plant and the bean that would eventually find its way into cups and mugs across the world.
While Advith completed his education in civil engineering and worked in his family’s construction business, his growing affinity towards coffee ignited the thought of doing something remarkable with this beverage. Thus was born the Seven Beans Coffee Company in 2012, which he started along with younger brother Abhijit with an initial investment of $1.5 million, and through a partnership with Dr. Dante Cagliari, a prominent name in the world of coffee roasting, and a partner at Seven Beans. “I am the roaster for Seven Beans, and it gives me a great sense of satisfaction that every batch till now has been roasted by my hands. I oversee the entire manufacturing process and quality control at the roastery,” Abhijit says.
“Positioned as premium gourmet coffee, we use grade A coffee beans and no chicory,” says Advith. He adds that their target consumer is anyone willing to pay between Rs 70 to Rs 140 for a cup of coffee at a café or a restaurant, “and in the retail platform, it is anyone who likes to have a cup or two of coffee a day. Not someone who needs a caffeine fix. It’s primarily individuals who are well-travelled, appreciate different blends and truly relish their coffee.”
“The Italians have amazing roasting techniques, while we produce high quality coffee beans. The Italian roast complements our Indian coffee in a big way. It is a seamless blend between Italian roasters and Indian coffee planters, which is us,” Advith tells us. Last year, Seven Beans started roasting, packaging and selling its three blends – Urja, a strong coffee possessing an aroma of Robusta that transforms to Arabica with the addition of sugar, the caramel flavoured Mishta that leaves a bright aftertaste, and the richly-flavoured Eka.
A chance interaction with Dr. Dante Cagliari, Italy’s premier coffee roast-master, who commands a family legacy in roasting, set the ball rolling. “I realised that my family was producing superb raw material through our coffee estates and exporting it. I felt that there is a lot more value that could be unlocked. Though we were thinking of setting up a roasting facility back then, after meeting Dr. Dante we felt we could leverage his expertise in a structured fashion and get the best roast.”
Mainly available in Bengaluru, Seven Beans has started supplying to Mumbai as well. Advith’s plan ahead is to approach cities such as Chennai, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, New Delhi, Kolkata, preferably through the restaurant/café model and at a later date also through retail stores. Roasting coffee, says Abhijit, isn’t a simple task, as variations occur in every batch of coffee due to their moisture content and the varying densities. “One also needs to factor in the outside temperature and the humidity. We blend the coffee before roasting and as such a considerable amount of skill is needed to achieve an even roast,” he says, adding that ‘perfect roasting’ is where art meets science.
Being completely engrossed in coffee in Modena, Abhijit could also gather insights on preparing coffee from a number of baristas around.
“Everything from the grind, to the tamp (the pressure that is applied on the ground coffee before it is attached to the professional machine), to the foaming of milk can completely change the taste of coffee. The process of making an espresso is called a pull and I practice it every day to make sure I don’t lose touch. A perfect pull is when the coffee flows out thick and continuous – much like flowing honey,” he explains.
Speaking of his experience which transcends beyond roasting, Abhijit says that he has discovered innovative uses for existing software tools at his company. “I discovered a way to use an accounting software to double up for inventory management. I also worked out a simple system of checks and balances which eliminated inefficiencies in logistics.”
“We’re available in over 10 online marketplaces that deliver across the country: Amazon being the largest one and is doing very well,” adds Advith, who looks into procurement, business development and sales.
“Our target consumer is anyone willing to pay between Rs 70 to Rs 140 for a cup of coffee at a café or a restaurant” – Advith Shetty
Once they’ve consolidated India through wholesale and retail, Seven Beans would eye the overseas markets. “We have actually already started shipping to Saudi Arabia and are in talks with a partner in Dubai,” says Advith. “The United States, Australia, Japan and the Far East are other geographies we are keen on as we are certain that Indian coffees would be well-received there.” Supplies abroad would mainly be through the café and restaurant route, as positioning the product in retail chains implies investing heavily on advertising and marketing.
Amidst drawing the blueprint for attaining this goal, Advith also manages to look into City Living, the service apartments that he started five years ago in Bengaluru. “City Living is an affordable range focused around corporates. We are looking at more properties that we can refurbish and convert into similar service apartments, but right at the moment, along with Seven Beans, this is a tough balancing act,” he says with a smile. Abhijit on the other hand is an avid trekker and finds peace when he is amidst nature. “These journeys have taught me all about patience and perseverance, helped clear my mind and given me clarity in thought. The sheer scale and the might of nature that you witness while trekking is an extremely humbling and enriching experience and helps put things in perspective,” says the man who squeezes out time from his jam-packed schedules to trek and be in the lap of nature.
On his bucket list is trekking in Arunachal Pradesh, Bhutan and the Routeburn track in New Zealand.