The city of Chennai, India—population 11,000,000—is home to Beachville Coffee Roasters, a design-minded specialty coffee space serving their own roasts with beauty and intentionality. India’s coffee scene continues to wow, as the country moves to establish itself as a major international destination for cafe design and coffee quality.
As told to Sprudge by Divya Jayashankar.
For those who aren’t familiar, will you tell us about your company?
Beachville Coffee Roasters is a specialty coffee roastery based in Chennai, India. We work directly with specialty coffee estates in India and roast in small batches in our roastery-cafe. Our founder, Divya, found her passion in the world of specialty coffee after spending two years in New York, and her roasting philosophy derives from the American specialty coffee movement, leaning towards lighter roasts to bring out lots of brightness, interesting acidity, and sweetness.
Can you tell us a bit about the new space?
We opened Beachville coffee roasters as a roastery four years back, and in March 2020 began the process of incorporating our roastery into Chennai’s first specialty coffee shop. The design of the cafe took off from the way customers interacted with the original roastery, a space where they could view the entire green bean to cup process, sample various coffees in different brews, and form their coffee preferences in a more well-rounded way.
Our roastery, equipped with a glass wall, encourages customers to view and engage with the process of roasting and all the QC that goes into it.
The cafe space is built around a concrete island that holds India’s first Slayer espresso machine, along with other manual brewing methods. This ensures the coffee making process draws all the attention, and customers frequently engage our baristas to ask questions about different brews. Frequent workshops we host for small groups encourage coffee lovers to learn more about specialty coffee brewing and tasting.
We finish up the experience by having a coffee bean retail counter near the billing section fitted with a Mahlkönig EK43, where customers can select from a variety of single origins and blends and get the coffee ground to their preference.
The concept for us has been to bring customers closer to quality specialty coffee, through full transparency around the whole process. It also throws the spotlight on our workflow and impels us to ensure our work practices are highly quality-focused—a challenge that we love and thrive under.
What’s your approach to coffee?
Roasting is the foundation of our company and the entire cafe experience. Our roasting aims to bring out the best possible profile of every coffee we source—one of our early taglines was “Coffees with personality.” Our founder curates the sourcing every year to include coffees from across the country that shine in different profiles and in different brew methods, and personally spends most of her time on developing and honing roast profiles for each coffee on the roster.
Our belief is that every coffee shines in a specific roast profile and a type of brew, but we are constantly coming up with profiles for each coffee that make it acceptable across a variety of different brew methods—something our customers appreciate, based on their favorite brew methods.
Roasting-wise, we roast coffees on the lighter end of the spectrum with a focus on bringing balance between acidity and sweetness. Adapting roasts like this to espresso beverages for the Indian palate (which loves body-forward coffees) has been a challenge, but we chose the Slayer to help us in just this regard, with its manual brewing capabilities. Sure enough, seeing our customers take to our lighter roast espressos has been a real treat.
Any machines, coffees, special equipment lined up?
How is your project considering sustainability?
All our takeaway cups and boxes are fully biodegradable, and we offer only paper bags for carryout.
Roasting batches that do not meet QC standards are offered out to customers free of cost as fertilizers.
The inside of our space has been designed to let in as much natural light as possible, to reduce dependence on artificial lighting, and we stress minimal dependence on air conditioners, supplementing them with fans throughout the space.
Finally, though none of the estates we source from are certified to be organic, all of them focus on minimum pesticide use, maximum shade cover and an abundance of flora and fauna to help them keep their ecosystem fertile.
What’s your hopeful target opening date/month?
We were slated to open in April 2020, but due to pandemic and resulting lockdowns, opened in October 2020.
Are you working with craftspeople, architects, and/or creatives that you’d like to mention?
We worked with Beatroot Co, a product design company in Chennai that designed bespoke mugs for us in a very specifically textured format meant to look like the beach. These mugs have been hugely popular, and sell out within days of restocking.
We are working with Studio Neon Attic, a Chennai-based Architecture and design firm that has helped us with landscaping, and is helping us with interior design.