Blue Tokai Brings Malabar To Mahalaxmi

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BLUE TOKAI BRINGS MALABAR TO MAHALAXMI

WORDS AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY KRUTI DALAL

Blue Tokai is a café that is attractive first and foremost because of its coffee.

I remember the exact moment I fell in love with coffee. The extended family had gathered post midnight to celebrate a birthday. I saw my aunt holding a cup close to her body, stirring vigorously with a spoon, and I offered to take over. Over the rhythmic clanking and chatter, I watched the dark brown liquid transform into a fluffy, caramel-coloured cloud. I inhaled the heady aroma, scooped some of the grainy paste and tentatively transferred it to my tongue. Bam! I’ve had one too many cuppa joes since then, but none have sparked off fireworks; until I consumed three cortados in one afternoon at Blue Tokai.

Finding Blue Tokai in the maze known as Laxmi Mills is akin to a treasure hunt for millennials unused to asking for directions or keeping calm when the signboards disappear for a short distance. In theory, you could just follow the sweet smell or track breadcrumbs and find yourself face to face with wide, floor-length windows and a burst of bougainvillea. But it’s probably a safer bet to keep your eyes peeled for the blue square nestled between rectangular signs for furniture boutiques.

blue tokai coffee

If you think dragging your feet through narrow lanes, surrounded by abandoned textile mills is hard work, you’d best return the same way. The truly Herculean effort comes from Blue Tokai, which follows the principles of purity, freshness and transparency. The nautical windows in the café overlook the roastery, so you can witness the journey of the espresso perched on your table – from pale beans to burnished liquid in pretty blue cups.

I head to Blue Tokai on a Wednesday and meet Raymond, the head roaster. The air is thick with the smooth scent of fresh-out-of-the-oven beans, cut only by the apologies flying across the room. Raymond is apologetic about breaking off conversation to alter the temperature and sliding across the floor to prop a barrel to catch falling beans. I’m clearly just getting in the way. Over the next 15 minutes, I grill Raymond even as the coffee beans from Kalledeverapura Estate in Chickamangalur are put through the test of fire.

blue tokai coffee

Blue Tokai sources their beans from 10 estates spread over the lush green ranges of Karnataka, Raymond tells me. There is no standard temperature, but heat graphs have been plotted separately to extract the unique essence of every single type of bean that is rolled in through the roaster’s swinging doors. Additionally, the beans are roasted to different degrees – light, medium and dark – in order to highlight different flavours. After being heated by a gas burner, the beans are cooled down and packed in airtight drums. Then, depending on orders received over the past four days, the beans are either ground to a particular consistency or straight away packed in beautifully illustrated brown paper bags and dispatched to coffee enthusiasts across the country. The coffee retains its zing for two weeks, and then it’s time to let a fresh batch of Malabari java tickle your nostrils.

My hunt for the perfect coffee has been like the Rolling Stones’s hit number. Complete satisfaction has remained elusive, but after years of refreshing myself at coffee shop chains with free Wifi, I’ve finally found a café that is attractive first and foremost because of its coffee. The easy vibe, friendly service and Wifi access are added bonuses. I now have a favourite spot (corner table with a clear view of the roastery), preferred blend (Hummingbird) and sinful snack (almond croissant). I also have a fixed address on Wednesday and Sunday evenings.

Blue Tokai roasts to order every Wednesday and Sunday from roughly 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The roaster is adjacent to the café and open to the public. You can place orders for specific blends on their website or pick up packets from the café.

Blue Tokai, Unit 20-22, Laxmi Woollen Mill, Opposite Khazana Furniture, Off Dr E Moses Road, Shakti Mills Lane, Mahalakshmi, Mumbai 400 011. Phone: 098200 95887
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