Saturday, 14 June 2014

Coffee, Tea & Nespresso: Bonhomia's Pods Make One Machine, Two Beverages A Reality

By Sourish Bhattacharyya

NESPRESSO users who keep complaining about how difficult it is to get replacement 'pods' (the single-serve capsules that have to be inserted into the machine for a perfect cup of coffee) can now take it easy.
Bonhomia opened its account with two coffee
blends in Delhi-NCR in March. It's now headed
to Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Pune,
and is all set to roll out its tea pods.  
Bonhomia, a brand of Nespresso-compatible coffee pods, is going places after its March launch in Delhi-NCR, where it is available in Godrej Nature's Basket and Modern Bazaar outlets as well as specialty shops such as Defence Store and The Taste at the Defence Colony Main Market. From next month, the pods, which are produced locally at Okhla, packed in aluminum-lined paper pouches to protect them from extreme heat and humidity, and sold in smartly designed boxes, will be available in stores in Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Pune. A box of 10 pods is priced at Rs 350, which makes Bonhomia more expensive than its competition Lavazza and Cafe Coffee Day.
The bigger news is that Bonhomia, by the next month, will also retail English Breakfast and green teas (Darjeeling and Earl Grey are next in the line), making it possible for you to have your morning cuppa ready in 12 seconds without worrying about the leaves being overcooked or the serving temperature not being right. The tea pods have whole leaves, not dust (as in tea bags), and therefore pack in real flavours. This new feature will gladden the hearts not only of early morning risers who hate having to make their own tea, but also of hotels, which now have started putting Nespresso coffee-makers in rooms.
With Nespresso, which controls 85 per cent of Europe's coffee machine market, introducing a low-cost model, priced at £89 in the UK, Bonhomia's promoters are confident that their market can only head in one direction -- north. Nespresso, according to Business Today, has made Nestle Europe's top coffee-seller and its annual revenues exceed $3 billion, powered mainly by 10 million daily refills.
Who, then, are the promoters of this new brand that promises to change the way we approach our early-morning brews? Bonhomia is the brainchild of Kunal Bhagat, an MBA from Insead who has worked with EME/Dar Capital, Bank of America and Barclays Capital in the UK; Tuhin Jain, a Hindu College-XLRI alumnus and Pepsico whiz kid; and Elena Petrova, a marketing specialist from Ireland of Moldovan origin, who's the brand's global marketing head.
Petrova is behind the tantalising names of the Bonhomia lines. Free Love is what she has named the Intensity 4 arabica-dominant coffee and the Intensity 7 line (a mix of arabica and robusta) is called Dark Deeds. The higher the intensity, the greater the body, and the more lingering is the bitter after-taste. Likewise, she has christened the English Breakfast tea (a blend of Assams), Black Pot, and the green tea, Green Peace.
The coffees left an everlasting impression on my palate. I took to Bonhomia instantly after seeing the perfect crema, which is so hard to find in most espressos (even, sadly, in five-star hotels), and the distinctive flavour profile of each coffee. The coffee beans are sourced from Karnataka's higher-elevation plantations, but as Jain points out, the contents of each pod are like a blended whisky -- a mix of coffees from different elevations and different locations delivering the intended taste profile.
Bhagat says Bonhomia brings the best of two worlds to the table. "Everyone associates India with tea, but we are also the world's fourth largest coffee producer -- and our robusta is considered the best around the globe," says the former investment banker and venture funding professional.
His hope is sustained by the 40 per cent growth being clocked year on year by the coffee market in north and west India, and the fact that "innvoation will drive change," even if it means that he has to drink at least 15 cups of espresso a day. The tea pods, according to him, are going to be the "game-changers" by making it possible for one machine to produce two beverages. Will the market wake up to Bonhomia's promise of delivering convenience and quality to Nespresso owners? That, as they say, only time will tell.