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The Decline Of A Coffeeshop Chain

Before I start, I should say that this is solely based on what I have experienced in my hometown of Cochin. Cafe Coffee Day is an Indian coffeehouse chain. They have outlets in all major cities and towns. They are the Starbucks or Tim Hortons of India. A few years ago CCD was the only coffee shop option we had in most cities and I frequented them on a weekly basis. Every Sunday or Saturday out since 2006 started at CCD with a nice thick frappe and maybe a muffin or a sandwich to go along with it.

Until a couple of years ago we had maybe one or two other options for a quick bite to eat like a sandwich or muffins,  maybe a pasty or cake and some delicious cold or hot coffee. Now – there are lots of various options with the slew of independent outlets that have come up. Some have 2 or 3 outlets in the city/state as well and foodies are flocking to them. CCD has 6 outlets in Kochi, 2 of which I have been to. They have 1 in Lulu Mall and 1 near Center Mall and one on MG Road a couple of kilometers from Center Mall (the one that I have been going to the last 3 times). Once a retreat for me, a place where I could go with a book and relax for a couple of hours, have a sub and big frappe it is now the least favourite option.

The last couple of times I have been inside a CCD I found that their sub sandwich have not only increased in price but decreased in taste and quantity of what’s inside. Miserly little things and they have the audacity to serve way beyond mediocre sliders and call then international burger fest! American classic burger – two sliders with chicken cutlets (the Indian kind) and hardly anything else. The two cafes I have been to look old and badly in need of sprucing up. I haven’t been to any of the other outlets though I had seen the CCD in Lulu Mall and it being the newer on, looks more inviting. I will stick to my choices of other outlets most of the time but once in a while I guess I will visit a CCD for old time’s sake.

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Upturned Noses

Even the most laid back and egalitarian among us can be insufferable snobs when it comes to coffee, music, cars, beer, or any other pet obsession where things have to be just so. What are you snobbish about?

Well to tell the truth I am a little snobbish about my coffee. Not the one I drink at home. No, at home I drink plain old simple instant coffee with sugar. Sometimes I add milk. I like it hot and black. But when I go out to cafes I can never think about drinking plain coffee.

No I want somewhat pricier (around Rs.100-150 worth) of lattes, machiatos, cold frappes, whipped cream and/or ice cream laden cold ones. I prefer though. Mocha this, latte that – give them to me. I want them complex and I want them rich. Otherwise why bother having a coffee outside your home.

So I turn my nose up towards your regular stuff. Give me a good one to savour.

Prompt from The Daily Post at WordPress.com

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The Bad Boy Burger

Ladies & gentleman, you a reading the post of a doomed and defeated man. Let me give you my review of the Bad Boy Burger at Cafe 17 on Kaloor-Kadavanthara road. This is my very first visit to this cozy and cool looking place that needs to expand and have quite a few more tables. So having seen and read a few posts from a lot of guys in two foodie groups on Facebook, little ole innocent me went to Cafe 17, braving a traffic jam, after work finished. I went by Uber and should have been taken out of the Cafe by a hearse by the end of my meal.

I went in and chose the table right in the front of the tv, as I wanted to see Spain vs Czech Rep playing in the Euros. I went through the menu quickly and chose a mocha frappe and ordered the Bad Boy burger from their burger fest menu, which the manager recommended (just the menu as it a special that they have at the moment). Now, half looking at the tv I placed my order as I liked the name The Bad Boy (being one myself ) and did not notice what it was. My frappe came, filled & overflowing with whipped cream and I sipped it and a few minutes later my burger came. Now, I am not a small guy. I am not tall but I am a big and fat guy. Yet even I was not prepared for what appeared before me.

Imagine this – you are a local wrestler in your town and the WWE is coming to hold a show in your area. You are called as an invite to go and perform a match against a WWE wrestler. “Don’t worry, we will get you a small, decent sized new wrestler. You will do well against him!” And you stupidly say “Ok, sure”. Cause you love wrestling and the WWE. So you get into the ring and you wave to the crowd, they cheer and you smile and pose and the ring announcer says “And his opponent…” and you hear….

“WELL, IT”S THE BIG SHOW!!! IT’S A BIG BAD SHOW TONIGHT” Yes, you see the BIG SHOW (all 7.1 feet and 220 kg of him) coming into the ring to beat the living hell outta you!!! That is what it felt when I came to face to face with The Bad Boy burger!!!

With a side of batter fried rings and a bit of coleslaw, this monster of a burger towered over me. Two big juicy beef patties, chicken salami, 2 large cheese slices, onions, large pieces of lettuce and tomato. Heart-attack on a bun! Juices dripping on the side, it’s a mess of a burger. I needed 20 tissues to wipe up the juice

I fought valiantly and I stood my ground even though I was out muscled by this Amazon of a burger. The Big Show / The Bad Boy burger pulverized me and lifted me high into the air and tossed me down onto the mat. He went for the count and the referee went on the side and did the count! 1…2….3! And the winner is THE BAD BOY BURGER!
I gave it my all, but I fought the Beef and the Beef won!!

More seriously, I rate it a 9 outta 10, point deducted for the sloppy burger that made the bun moist and it slipped and slides all over my rectangular plate. It made it difficult to eat. Might not ever have it again, unless I haven’t eaten for a day atleast.

And now, I will skip dinner, tomorrows breakfast and lunch as I will be in recovery!!

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The World On My Coffee Cup

I have this obsession with coffee cups. I like coffee…..no wait, that is not right….I have a sexual relationship with coffee on a regular basis. It should come as no surprise then that I also have a thing for coffee cups. Coffee cups are something that I like collecting and at the moment I have a few, not too many, just a few that I like and I hope to add more to the last as the months go by.

Yesterday while at the mall, I picked up this one. I really liked the look of it “Genius at work” is so perfect for me that I just had to buy it. So I picked it up for the terribly high price that it had and bought it at the shop.

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I picked up it and paid for it but it was only after I came back home that I realized that those cool looking almost 70s hippie colourful images on the mug was actually the continents of our world!!! Isn’t that great? I picked up something (the lighting in the store wasn’t all that great so no wonder I missed seeing what it was) thinking it was nice and it turned out to be even more cooler than I first imagined!

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Life can be awesome like that somedays. Silly me, it’s only a coffee mug. But yeah, I like it. Cheers!

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Coffee & A Ham Sandwich

What do you do when you start getting a nasty head cold and have really bad sneezes and the sniffles as your working day ends? You go to the nearest cafe in the evening and get yourself a treat.

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So here is the delicious & hot Scottish Latte – a latte with a dollop of butterscotch flavour. It was really good.

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And get a ham & egg sandwich. Delicious and filling double decker ham & egg sandwich from Coffee Beanz!

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No Apologies

What’s the one guilty pleasure you have that’s so good, you no longer feel guilty about it?

Cold coffee or iced coffees or frappes – take your pick. I am a coffee fanatic and I drink 3-4 cups of coffee a day but they are usually the plain hot variety and 1 or 2 of them will be plain black coffee. I need two cups of coffee in the morning before I can consider myself living and then I will have usually 2 but some days just one in the evening. As the majority and vast majority at that are all plain hot coffee (either black or with just milk) I long for frappes and in a tropical climate such as where I live, the cold ones are a boon.

I get my coffee fix with it’s cooler and refreshing and can have dollops of chocolate syrup or whipped cream or both. Man, I just love those. Even if it is a hot coffee I will opt for a moccachino or an Irish coffee or something like that. Life needs that extra flavour here and there. Live a little. As I only have frappes once a week I demand that I need that indulgence. Otherwise what the fuck are we living for. So that is my guilty pleasure.

Yes a plain hot coffee with or without milk (we don’t usually use cream here) is good and gets the job done. But that is the norm. I need an occasional cold one.

Prompt from The Daily Post at WordPress.com

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Sunny & Cool Day Becomes A Rainy & Thundering Evening

Today a Saturday was one of the coolest yet sunniest days in a long while. It was bright and sunny yet there was a cool wind blowing throughout and hence it was prefect for a day out. I took a book and went out to spend some time reading in cafes while sipping on coffees.

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Nice day for some cold coffee. I also had a really good tandoori chicken sandwich from Cafe Coffee Day, the first stop for today. A couple of hours spent in the cool confines of my favourite coffeeshop franchise while reading a book is great for relaxing on the weekend.

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Marine Drive was my next destination. Another hour or so spent reading while sitting on a bench overlooking the Arabian sea is awesome. I had to go back in for more cold coffee but this is a quick pic I snapped while inside the Bay Pride Mall.

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Alas days like these are few and far between. My second cup of coffee was this new and improved and simply titled cold coffee from the Bay Pride Mall’s food court. The same coffee just better tasting and with a generous shot or two of chocolate syrup – man it was really good. Well good for a place that doesn’t specialize in coffee.

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Before leaving the mall I stepped into a store that sells computer/laptops, mobiles and accessories and bought a new Dell USB wireless mouse to go with my new Dell laptop. Pretty cute with a nice glossy matte finish that is so smooth to the touch.

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Food Review # 44

My very first visit to a Starbuck’s – I had the Iced Caramel Macchiato & Basil, Tomato & Mozzarella Sandwich. I’m skipping quite a few videos to post this one here because my visit to Chennai was a short one and I just blogged about this visit to the famed coffeeshop franchise. So here is my review of the Starbucks food & coffee.

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My First Ever Starbucks Visit

So…I have never ever been to a Starbucks in my life until this Friday. And that’s because they don’t have an outlet in Cochin or anywhere near here for me to visit. There isn’t one in Kerala at all but there are a couple in Chennai. So on Friday after I left the office post raising a request for my return flight back to Cochin, I called for a taxi and headed towards Phoenix Market City / Phoenix Mall in Vellacherri (which is part of the main city of Chennai). It took me almost 40 minutes to get there.

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I entered the mall after the elaborate security checks and immediately fell in love with the large mall. We need more malls! I walked into the ground floor and immediately saw a large banner for Dunkin’ Donuts. But I think that was just an announcement of the franchise opening (I didn’t bother to read it completely) and did not see an outlet in the mall. But I turned left at one end and saw……Starbucks! Yes, it’s like the mothership calling me home!

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So I didn’t know that they had a Starbucks here but I was happy anyways. Starbucks is one of the franchises that I really wanted to try (it was in my top 5) and I walked in, checked out their menu and settled on an iced grande caramel macchiato and a basil, tomato & mozzarella cheese sandwich on foccachia bread sandwich! Whew, that is a mouthful. And what a good mouthful it is!

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So here is the large elaborately lengthy named a basil, tomato & mozzarella cheese sandwich on foccachia bread sandwich. That bread is so delicious even on it’s own and I love the seasame seeds on it. It’s also got fennel on it, I think. The mozzarella was delicious but the tomatoes were a downer. The basil was more like a pesto but I like the combination so much anyway. It was really good and light. Not having had anything other than a coffee or two for breakfast, I was so happy for that sandwich.

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And ofcourse, the reason why I went in, a famed coffee from Starbucks. I had a hard time settling on one coffee to try and decided to go with the iced grande caramel macchiato. It was good but I expected much more. It didn’t blow my mind or anything and that could be because I built it up in my head for so many years before actually trying it out. But still good. I will have a review video out sometime soon. Enjoy the pics!

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My Prize For Winning A CCD Twitter Contest

About 2 months ago I had taken part in a caption making contest that Cafe Coffee Day was running on Twitter. They had 10 photos and chose the funniest for each as the winner. I was the winner of the 2nd photo. I finally got the prize delivered to my residence (albeit after following up with them on Twitter as well as email)

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This afternoon while I was out I got a call from FedEx informing me about the package and I have them directions to my apartment. As I was away mom signed it for me.

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The first item in the box is this espresso machine that you see above here. Kinda works like a filter coffee I guess. I have never used one before but I will try it out say by tomorrow.

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The second item in the package was a tin of Dark Forest coffee that Cafe Coffee Day sells in their stores and on online. I will try that one out as well as soon as say tomorrow. Hope it is good!

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The third item is the large coffee mug that you see on the right. It came in this little box. Unfortunately I already have a very similar coffee cup that I had bought from CCD a couple of years back. It’s basically the same with just some added images – truth be told the added images makes the cup look rather tacky and I much prefer the old design!

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Now the bad thing – the coffee cup comes with a saucer. However the saucer was broken in transit and I got it in several pieces, as seen here in the photo below! I dunno if it was the fault of FedEx but that is terrible!

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And the last item in the box is this “Cafe Moments” card that they sent me – it works like a debit / prepaid card at any CCD outlet and they had put in Rs.100 in the account to start me off. The total value of the prize package is Rs.1000. Here is the video of the unboxing in 2 parts.

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Shirts, Shoes & Stuff

Last evening’s lovely rain duped me into thinking that today might be a cool day weather wise to go out for a bit of long delayed shopping. It was instead a rather hot day and even now, at 6:40 pm, still 33 degrees Celsius. Anyway I had planned to go shopping with my cousin Sujith, as I’d called him and asked him if he wanted to join me. He was game and so we decided to meet at Men’s Studio near Kacheripady by 11 am. Unfortunately for us the sun was blazing hot by then. As I live nearby, I reached much earlier than he did and I went in and sought a salesman at one of the counters. I looked at well over 30 shirts before selecting around 8 and tried them out before selecting 2 to buy for now. I’ve asked them to keep one in reserve for me and that I would come by on Monday and buy it. I had the money but I also wanted to buy a pair of shoes and decided to get that first.

Sujith and I went to get some coffee and a small bite to eat and step out of the hot sun for a while. As we drank our cold coffee, sitting on couches next to the ceiling to floor length windows of the cafe, we stared at a stupid tank lorry driver who, knowingly or unknowingly, drove from a side road onto MG Road and basically blocked the busy street for over 20 minutes. With the Metro railway work being done on Mg Road, as it is the road is heavily congested and now a large queue of cars, buses, autos and bikes were now piled up on the road as a illegal turn to the main road was done by this guy. It was fun to watch for us as he twisted, drove and turned for many minutes but I’m sure the driver of the lorry was under pressure and many people on the roads and on their vehicles were cursing him.

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We then went to buy shoes but – the preferred place that I go to was closed so we tried a couple of other places. We waited for a while to be served but no one came for a long time and so we left the first place. The second place said they had a large 70% discount as part of a clearance sale. They lied! Someone should tell them what the meaning of a discount is – marking a make believe large amount as the original price and then slashing it and showing an amount, which is the actual rate, is not a fucking discount! Everything was charged quite high and I knew that I could the same shoes at a lower rate in my preferred store so I decided to wait for a couple of days and try my luck again.

We then went for lunch and had pizzas (videos will be uploaded soon) and Appy Fizz to wash it down. More walking in the sun for checking out shoes and we ended the evening with frappes (bad choice as I was too full with those). But it was so hot and we were sweaty and I was tired. After an hour sitting in another cafe we left to our respective homes.

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Bru’s Cappuccino Packets

Bru is the preferred coffee brand of choice in my household. We prefer it to the more costlier Nescafe and the cheaper Sunrise (these are the only three instant coffee powder brands that we buy). Given a choice, I would probably buy Bru over the other two. Yes you get more fancier brands but they are too expensive for this family.

Bru had launched different packets of these cappuccino styles & flavourings (not sure when but I have seen a few here and there) but I find them lacking in quality and taste whenever I have tried such stuff before. Recently I found a single packet of the Creme flavoured cappuccino powder, enough for making a 120 ml cup of coffee, which came free with something else I bought at the store. Yesterday evening I thought I’d try it out and see how it measured up to the cappuccinos I have had at cafes like CCD and Barista.

One word – yuck! It tasted so bad enough though I followed the instructions to the letter. The aftertaste was so terrible that I had to eat a banana just to get it outta my tongue!