Stopping by recently for our go-to bag of beans (shoppers often have their own customized blends of the various grades of coffee), we were pleasantly surprised to see something new brewing at Delhi’s favourite coffee store, Devan’s.
A big sign hangs over the shop- now expanded to include a neighbouring storefront - naming it "Devan's at Lodhi". Inside, the space has been remodelled with a barista counter and streamlined benches occupying one half of the area. While Keshav Dev, the founder's son, mans the sales counter under a retro poster of a fabulously mustachioed coffee lover, his own son, Siddhant, is in charge of their freshly roasted coffee shop.
Some places never seem to change, and that permanence constitutes a great part of their charm. Devan's, tucked away in Khanna Market, is one such establishment. It was founded in 1962 by D. Vasudevan, a Malayali working for the Coffee Board, who started his business delivering filter coffee on his cycle to South Indian civil servants living in Lodhi Colony. Long before Blue Tokai and others started roasting and grinding their beans in situ, Devan's little shop was sending the fragrance of toasting Arabica and Robusta out into its surroundings. Now, the small roaster and distributor caters to generations of devoted caffeine fiends as well as gourmet stores around town, and is known for its selection of beans from various environmentally friendly Indian plantations.
At the new Devan’s at Lodhi, besides a pair of Italian and German grinders presides a majestic La Marzocco coffee machine, hand-wrought by Italians, presumably in between copious shots of espresso. Keshav informed us that it is one of perhaps a dozen in the city, "most of which are lying around at the Oberoi."
Books and magazines about coffee are strewn about the seating area- about nine customers can sit at a time - and the family's eclectic collection of coffee makers and cups from around the world line the shelves. The coffee bar is open, but Devan’s were still working out the pricing when we visited, so Siddhant treated us to a cup of their organic coffee gratis. Though mild in flavour, the coffee, sourced from a plantation in Chikmaglur, is satisfyingly full-bodied. The café will offer all of Devan’s ten Indian coffee varieties to drink; their list is growing.
We sipped the brew while watching the staff scooping coffee beans from gunny sacks through a cut-out window, then went to take a whiff of four new imported beans for sale, selected by an Italian taster. At Rs 350 per 100 grams, they aren't cheap, but we’re tempted by the nutty aroma of the Mexican Altura Chiapas Adelita, and happy to see an old classic reinventing itself. Chak de latte.
Getting there: Devan’s at Lodhi, 131 New Khanna Market, Lodi Colony. Open Monday-Saturday, 10 am to 7.30 pm. Call 011-24611474. A cup of coffee will cost between Rs 120-150.
Accessibility: Ground-floor entry with no steps.
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