On this ‘International Coffee Day,’ we invite you to embark on a journey into the world of coffee entrepreneurship. Coffee, once a simple daily ritual, has evolved into a vibrant culture, embracing innovation and quality like never before. To celebrate this day, we had the privilege of conversing with the visionary founders behind two prominent names in the Indian coffee scene – Ayush Bathwal of ‘Third Wave Coffee‘ and Arman Sood of ‘Sleepy Owl Coffee‘!

In this exclusive interview, we delve into the captivating stories of how these thought leaders of the homegrown coffee scene have redefined the coffee culture in the country. Discover the inspiration behind their unique brand names, trace their remarkable journeys, and gain insight into their visions for the coffee industry in the years ahead. Join us as we uncover the passion, dedication, and innovation that have fueled these homegrown coffee brands, making them household names for coffee lovers across the nation.

International Coffee Day - Interview from 'Third Wave Coffee' and 'Sleepy Owl Coffee'!

Can you tell us a little about the name – Third Wave Coffee Roasters?

Ayush: We wanted to start a coffee company that would focus on quality at every step to brew the best possible cup of coffee for our customers. During our research, we came across “Third Wave Of Coffee” which is a global movement in the coffee industry that places a strong emphasis on high-quality, artisanal coffee production. This movement represents a shift in the way coffee is perceived, sourced, roasted, brewed, and enjoyed, with a focus on appreciating coffee as a specialty product rather than a commodity. This represented our mission very well; hence we chose our name to be Third Wave Coffee!

Please share a brief about the journey of the Third Wave

Ayush: I worked in San Diego after college before starting Third Wave Coffee, where my passion for artisanal coffee grew. Anirudh, my second co-founder, with a formal background in hospitality, always wanted to do something innovative in the hospitality space. I quit my job at Qualcomm & Anirudh said goodbye to his family business; and we both moved to Bangalore in 2015 to start a new-age coffee company focusing on sourcing quality coffee directly, roasting green coffee ourselves, and brewing innovative beverages for customers. Anirudh & I, after researching & learning tricks of the trade, started the first café in Koramangala, Bangalore, in September 2016. Sushant, our third co-founder, joined Third Wave in 2019 full-time. Sushant, Anirudh & I have been friends since school at different times.

How would you describe India’s coffee culture at the moment?

Ayush: The coffee culture in India has undergone a remarkable transformation in recent years, marked by a unique blend of tradition and modernity.

In a country renowned for its rich tea traditions, coffee has managed to carve out a special place for itself. It has evolved from being just an occasional beverage to a preferred choice that fuels people’s daily routines. This shift is more than a mere preference; it’s a reflection of the changing lifestyles and aspirations of India’s urban population.

Cafes in India have become more than just places to grab a quick cup of coffee. They have become community hubs where people meet to socialize, engage in work meetings, or simply unwind with family and friends. What’s fascinating is that these cafes have seamlessly integrated themselves into the fabric of Indian society, adapting to local tastes and sensibilities while still offering a modern and global coffee experience.

What, according to you, is the biggest benefit of homegrown coffee brands over international brands?

Ayush: Indian coffee brands are now focusing on quality and refining their roasting techniques to suit the preferences of customers who generally prefer less bitter flavors. They collaborate closely with farmers to source beans that align with this profile. This approach involves lighter to medium roasting, diverse bean varietals, and customer feedback to create a coffee experience that resonates with the Indian palate, ultimately making coffee a more enjoyable and less bitter beverage for a wider audience.

Where do you see the industry going in the next 3 years?

Ayush: At Third Wave Coffee, we hold a strong belief that over the next three years, an increasing number of people in India will choose coffee as their beverage of choice. This shift towards coffee is not merely about a change in taste; it represents the emergence of a vibrant coffee culture that encompasses the love for finely crafted brews and the unique experiences that cafes provide. We are genuinely excited about the prospect of coffee becoming the driving force behind the new India. This exciting journey of coffee’s rising popularity inspires us to continue our commitment to delivering exceptional coffee experiences that will be at the heart of this cultural transformation.

Congratulating the team at Third Wave Coffee for successfully closing the Series C funding and wishing them all the luck!

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Can you tell us a little about the name – Sleepy Owl? 

Arman: It was 2015, amidst the bustling Mumbai locals, my co-founder, Ashwajeet Singh had found a seat next to the window, which he clearly remembers having boarded from Andheri, to head down to Churchgate. A whole 30 days had passed since Ashwajeet and I had been racking our brains to come up with a name for our dream start-up. So, we gave ourselves an ultimatum – one more day. 

While on the train, he let his mind drift off– Something ambiguous, maybe? Something which wasn’t simple. How about an oxymoron? What would make sense (or not make any) with coffee? An animal; a bird? The owl. It fits perfectly. That’s how he came up with Sleepy Owl Coffee. There were all ayes, no nays. And that was how our christening went. 

Please share a brief about the journey of Sleepy Owl.

Arman: In 2016, Ashwajeet, Ajai, and I, united to revolutionize the coffee industry, aiming to make exceptional coffee accessible to all. We began with a single product, the ‘Cold Brew Box‘, in one city. Today, Sleepy Owl boasts over 30 unique coffee offerings, merchandise, and nationwide delivery, becoming a household name for coffee lovers.

Our journey commenced with humble beginnings, brewing coffee in our own kitchens and attending events to share our passion. In 2017, retail success and community-building marked a pivotal year. 2018 and 2019 were marked by significant growth, backed by seed funding. Our product range expanded, from Cold Brew to Hot Brew Bags and ready-to-drink cold brew bottles. We relentlessly pursued improvement while celebrating each milestone.

2020 brought challenges, but we focused on growth, introducing more flavors and accolades. We established a factory in Delhi to meet the growing demand. In 2021, our coffee range diversified further, from ground coffee to premium instant coffee. Today, after seven years of dedication, Sleepy Owl continues to thrive, offering an extensive coffee range for all tastes. We believe in bringing the cafe experience to your home.

How would you describe India’s coffee culture at the moment?

Arman: India’s coffee culture is undergoing a delightful transformation, and here at Sleepy Owl, we’re thrilled to be a part of it. While tea has traditionally dominated Indian households, coffee is gaining ground, especially among the younger generation. We see a growing appreciation for good quality coffee, with consumers embracing diverse flavors and brewing methods. I see genuine curiosity among people to know more about their coffee, invest in good quality, and learn different methods of brewing. Our cold and hot brews, for instance, have become a refreshing favorite. I believe Indian consumers are reaching a point where they have begun embracing the idea of investing a little more time every day in brewing the coffee they want at home.

So yes, India’s coffee culture is brewing an amazing blend of tradition and innovation.

Sleepy Owl Coffee

What, according to you, is the biggest benefit of homegrown coffee brands over international brands?

Arman: The biggest benefit of homegrown coffee brands over international ones is their ability to offer a more authentic, localized coffee experience. It gives us a chance to connect deeply with local culture, support the domestic economy, and maintain transparency in our practices. I think it also makes us more agile in terms of how we innovate and personalize offerings to match local tastes. And well, we are amongst the top 10 coffee-producing countries in the world so why not reap what we sow?

Where do you see the industry going in the next 3 ears?

Arman: I think the coffee industry is going to grow tremendously in the next 3 years as well. We are at a phase where coffee isn’t only about fleeting trends or a medium of catching up with your friends and family at cafes, it is increasingly becoming part of people’s lifestyle. Apart from the consumption aspect, we can expect a lot of technological adoption as well from both consumers and brands alike. So, in terms of investment, of companies and consumers, coffee is going to see a definitive high. 

Sleepy Owl Coffee Interview

Wish the folks at Sleepy Owl Coffee all the luck & hope they keep serving us delicious coffee flavours through the years.

As we conclude our journey into the world of coffee entrepreneurship on this International Coffee Day, we hope you’ve enjoyed the exclusive insights and inspiring stories shared by the founders of Third Wave Coffee and Sleepy Owl Coffee. Their passion, dedication, and commitment to quality have not only elevated the coffee experience but have also contributed to the evolving coffee culture in India.

So, as you sip your coffee today, remember the stories you’ve heard, the passion you’ve felt, and the innovation that’s brewing. Happy International Coffee Day! May your coffee always be exceptional, and may your days be filled with the warmth and inspiration it brings. Cheers!