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Di Bella coffee set to enter India by January

By Neena Bhandari
December 06, 2011 10:15 IST
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Australia's fastest-growing and most-awarded coffee company, Di Bella Coffee, plans to enter the Indian market with, at least, six cafés in Mumbai in January. It would be followed with cafés in Delhi, Bangalore and Hyderabad.

A core team of eight, headed by general manager Rahul Leekha, is in Mumbai preparing for the launch and interviewing people with high-end food and beverage skill sets.

"We will employ 50 people, who would undergo two to four weeks training under our baristas from Australia," said Sachin Sabharwal, managing director, Di Bella Coffee India Pvt Ltd, and a partner in the Australian company.

Di Bella Coffee sells 2.2 million cups every week in Australia and overseas. Known for its premium A grade beans, the three signature blends for the Indian market -- Ali Reserve, premium and Felici -- would be sourced from four continents, roasted in Australia and exported to India, making India's its first premium international coffee chain.

"Each blend will consist of four-five different origin green beans, including Indian green beans from Karnataka, to give a distinct taste profile," said Sabharwal, who would devote Di Bella's first year in India to get consumer appreciation, brand presence and market share in the premium niche segment of coffee retailing.

The growing craze for coffee among the middle class is spearheading the out-of-home consumption of coffee in this traditionally tea drinking country.

With Indian coffee retailing set to grow 40 per cent per annum, Di Bella is set to capitalise by expanding into other cities and if things go according to plan, opening 50 outlets in India in the next three years.

"Our target is the youth. We would offer free internet usage

per cup of coffee. What would distinguish us from other chains is our iPad application, which would allow consumers to place orders and access emails through iPads on their table. Coffee is very much a social experience," said Sabharwal, who was born in Mumbai and grew up in Sydney.

"It has turned a full circle and feels good to take my skills and knowledge as a coffee entrepreneur back to my country of birth."

The cafés would come up on 500 to 1,500 sq fts with seating ranging between 20 and 80 customers at a time, and coffee would be served in fine China at ~100 upwards for a cup of 180 ml to 220 ml.

By mid next year, the company plans to set up an India-specific online store and begin wholesaling espresso and Torq natural instant coffee to luxury hotels and airlines. Di Bella has also entered into an exclusive partnership with Tea Drop, Australia, to sell its blends in India through its online stores.

"In the next 12 to 18 months, we plan to set up a training centre in India to teach coffee baristas and coffee connoisseurs to promote entrepreneurship. We are in the process of setting up the Di Bella Training Institute in China, in partnership with the University of Shanghai," said Phillip Di Bella founder and owner.

He founded the company in 2002 as a one-man band with A$5,000. Today, it is the largest speciality coffee company, turning over more than A$20 million and exporting to New Zealand, China and Vietnam.

"Initially, we estimate exporting 50 kg of coffee beans a week per café to India from our roasting warehouse in Bowen Hills, Queensland. This should grow substantially, as Indians love the café culture. By 2013, we will set up a roasting warehouse here," said Di Bella, who has set up a consumer-driven model of business, which thrives on quality of product, customers and consistency.

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Neena Bhandari in Sydney
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