This post is another in our Cafe Case Study series. We interview cafe owners to learn about the vision behind their space and then ask them a bit about the equipment they chose and why they made that decision.
Use these case studies as inspiration for your own cafe dreams or simply to get a behind-the-scenes look at some beautiful coffee spaces around the world.
Want to be featured in a future case study? Send us an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Cacao Mill by Subko Coffee Roasters in Mumbai. As told by the founder Rahul Reddy.
Why did you open a cafe and how would you describe your brand?
Subko was inspired by the mission to reimagine, redefine, and redesign the Indian presence in the global specialty coffee scene and among craft baking communities. This is in response to the advent of the third wave coffee movement that in recent years has spread all over the world. India is one of the largest green coffee producing country in the world, which is surprising given the lack of popularity of Indian specialty coffee roasteries in the industry. At Subko, we began by creating a fully microlot and nanolot driven experiential coffee roastery, with retail beans and grounds, and flagship cafe experience, using 100% South Asian sourced specialty coffee, with a goal of keeping the coffees at 85 points or above on the SCA quality scale. Working in support of this is the fully in-house creation of high-quality, technically challenging sourdough bread and laminated baked goods (croissants). These factors are critical to redefining Indian specialty coffee as an ‘exportable’ experience. Adding to the experience is the fully-in house rotational and experimental creative studio that allows Subko to constantly express its attention to detail and creative endeavors from packaging innovation to motion graphics and videos. This is how Subko Specialty Coffee Roasters and Craft Bakehouse came to life.
Can you tell us a bit about the location and describe the concept of your cafe?
Subko originally launched in March 2020, three days before COVID-19 hit India. In 2023, we decided to invest our time and energies in expanding the brand by adding Indian grown cacao, which is phenomenally underrated. Hence, we introduce The Cacao Mill, located in the Colaba neighborhood of South Bombay (Mumbai) very close to the ‘Gateway of India’ and other iconic landmarks like the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. The Cacao Mill is many things to Subko, and we hope, to Bombay where we are based, and to India at large. The Cacao Mill features a publicly visible, small scale ‘factory’ for the production of ‘bean to bar’ chocolate. This serves as an educational space for what we call ‘the pod to bar’ experience, where we illuminate on the agricultural realities of producing and processing cacao fruit or pods, which ultimately results in craft chocolate. It also serves as a a craft chocolate retail space and experiential cafe.
What equipment do you use to make coffee and why did you choose this equipment?
At the Cacao Mill experiential cafe, we bring together our original expertise in specialty coffee roasting and brewing together with beverage development, with a special cacao-oriented set of products from the Subko bakehouse. We also serve experimental confectionary such as our cubes of single origin chocolates that are versions of classic industrial candy bars like snickers, to our own Indian take on ‘filled’ tablets of traceable cacao chocolate such as the traditional South Asian dessert, Kulfi, transformed into a white chocolate bar. Coffee wise, it was crucial for us to provide Bombay and India with exceptional, visually stunning, and technologically advanced brewing equipment. For the first time, we decided to set-up three Mythos One grinders, each one featuring a different single origin coffee from the Indian subcontinent. On one side we have a Slayer Espresso Machine, and on the other side we are proud to work with Modbar technology for what we call the ‘Subko Bloom Bar’ where we make pour-over single origin coffee scoring 86+ SCA points, often 88+ points. We’ve installed two Modbar Pour-Over units where we brew our manual brews with either the Origami Dripper or the Kalita Wave. Being a cacao/ chocolate focused experiential space, we also decided to create a concept using the Modbar Steam module where we allow customers to see their custom hot chocolate steamed up in in front of them as they sit at the bar. It’s been a joy and a learning experience to see our customers interest in learning how Modbar works, its beautiful engineering, design, and function. They are impressed that this is all being done within the framework of India, at origin, in an origin country, with a space trying to push the boundaries of coffee, bread, and chocolate on a global level.
Describe your bar or customer flow and how did the equipment influence the flow or viceversa.
In the beginning, we found incredible enthusiasm around Modbar and around the concept of bar seating as Subko was one of the first to offer this concept. Customer flow on weekends has been a challenge, and a fun opportunity for our talented training and barista teams to really push the limits of efficiency and quality together. Modbar has helped us create an efficient workflow and thanks to the programming function it has allowed us to maintain consistency but also customize our recipes across our different microlots. The Modbar Steam for hot chocolate has allowed for super-fast workflow around our single origin/ experimental hot chocolate menu.
What’s one thing that makes your café special?
That’s for you to say! We hope to that anyone who visits India takes the chance to come and see us at The Cacao Mill by Subko or at our other location, The Craftery, where we roast, bake, and where we have a La Marzocco Leva. Who knows… perhaps a few more Modbar modules will be installed by then!