The phrase, “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog” (which contains all the letters in the English language) is the quirky inspiration behind the coffee brand set up at hip and fashionable Dhan Mill Compound in Chhatarpur district in New Delhi, India. The name is apt for this specialty business that opened doors to its roastery and cafe in 2018 and has been consistently crafting quality coffee for the growing base of loyal Quick Brown Fox customers—even through the recent outbreak of the Coronavirus.
Looking at the size of the country, it can feel like India has countless cafes. With rapid growth in the number of coffee entrepreneurs within the country, the demand has increased for the limited Arabica coffee grown in India, leading to higher green prices. There are enough challenges in the market, whether it is consumer education, value perception, increasingly tough competition, or limited and expensive raw resources. Coupled with the challenges of training employees to the exacting standards required by specialty coffee, it is not a business for the faint-hearted—it is for those who love coffee enough to take the risks to make it a livelihood. Quick Brown Fox owner Vaibhav Bindal is from this group of passionate people.
Bindal started his journey trying to recreate the perfect brew—espresso, to be precise, for his favorite drink at that time, the cappuccino. That journey took him through AeroPress, Moka pot, cold brewing, and eventually through several countries to identify his preferred profile of coffee and how to craft it. Heavily influenced by Scandinavian and Japanese style, QBF’s roast profiles show a depth of flavor and consideration that varies for coffee sourced from different farms. Initially, Bindal worked with a Q Grader to profile each coffee before roasting it, now with years of roasting experience under his belt, he has a good sense of where he wants each coffee's profile to land.
“Coffee consumption patterns vary significantly in different parts of India. Coffee drinkers in South India tend to buy ground coffee from local shops whereas the rest of the country relies mostly on instant coffee,” says Bindal. “What remains common, though, is that most coffees are made with milk and sugar,” he says. Though Bindal is himself a fan of lighter roast coffees, he says the audience for that style is just beginning to grow in India.
Quick Brown Fox's coffee is sourced directly from farmers in the southern part of India by Bindal himself. The ideal profile is worked out and roasted on a beautiful Probat Probatone 5 right on site. The cafe boasts a lineup of the best equipment, from a La Marzocco Linea PB ABR to Mazzer Major and Mahlkönig EK43 grinders. For India's hot days, which are many, the cafe serves Japanese iced pour-over, along with nitro and cold brew coffees.
The influence of clean flavors and minimal design is evident not only in the roast profiles but also in the food offerings and the design of the roastery cafe. The space is light and bright with green plants and has an air of minimalism which is a relief from overly fussy places.
The impact of COVID-19 on retail has been harsh in Delhi like the rest of the nation. High rents and operating costs with dismal footfalls make it exceedingly difficult for even the most prosperous of businesses to keep their doors open. QBF has been closed since March end, but Bindal is hopeful to have guests back in August. However, during this time, Bindal has been able to dedicate himself to developing the company's presence online. It has seen huge growth in web sales, and Bindal is hopeful it can continue this trajectory, especially with the introduction of some special premium coffees lined up for release in the coming months.
In the sea of cafes and roasters in India, there are a few pearls that shine through and do justice to the celebration of coffee: Quick Brown Fox stands among them.
Radhikka Kapur is the founder of Third Culture Coffee in Seattle. She currently resides in New Delhi. This is Radhikka Kapur's first feature for Sprudge.