"Café Coffee Day is not just another café for most of us, especially for a coffee lover like me it’s an emotion."
It was the summer of 2008 when I shifted to Delhi for higher studies and CCD came into my life. I can still feel the froth of the Cold Coffee which I had in one of Café Coffee Day outlets in Delhi. But it's IIM Udaipur which properly introduced me with the founder and chairman of Amalgamated Bean Coffee (ABC), VG Siddhartha and his crown jewel Café Coffee Day.
During the initial days of MBA, in one of the Written and Analysis Communication lectures, Professor handed a case study named "Coffee Wars In India: Café Coffee Day Takes On The Global Brands" which documented not only the success story of Café Coffee Day in India but also described how Siddhartha got the better of other global brands and retained the title of Market Leader in India. From that day, I was highly inspired and in awe of the personality & the business acumen of Mr VG Siddhartha. The sudden news of his death came as a shock to me and most of my batchmates.
On Monday, i.e., 29th July 2019, news of missing of VG Siddhartha, sent alarming ripples across the nation and when on Wednesday, i.e., 31st July 2019, his body was fished out from the Netravati River near Mangaluru, left the Netizens heartbroken. The thing which was more heart wrenching than the news of his death was the suicide note in which he apologized to his board and other members of the CCD family for letting them down and declared himself a failed entrepreneur.
But did he fail?
In a country like India, where Tea dominated critical geographies of the nation and historically a part of the people's everyday lives, Coffee was the exotic beauty and reserved either for the special guests or occasions, VG Siddhartha introduced us with frothy Cappuccinos and began the coffee revolution in India. From the first café, in Bangalore in 1996, CCD became the largest coffee shop chain in a decade. It was a home-grown brand that changed the way Indians – across all age groups- consumed a beverage. VG Siddhartha not only revolutionized the café culture in India but also became the undisputed coffee king of India.
Back in the day, eating out meant either having dinner at a fancy restaurant or night out with friends. But the arrival of CCD gave the new definition to the term "Hang Out." The café culture in India came with CCD, a cool and casual place to hang out without any loud music, causing you a headache. For years, CCD has been the go-to place for school kids, college-goers, and a place to catch up with some old friends for adults. CCD also provided a comfortable ambience for entrepreneurs and people in business to hold meetings or meet with clients. Let's not forget; most of us had our first date there!
Indeed, CCD proved that "A lot can happen over coffee for everyone".
After VG Siddharth's letter went viral on social media, several people came out on various platforms and shared their fond memories of CCD. While some spoke of having their first date or meeting their spouses at CCD, some even stated how Siddhartha was an inspiration for budding entrepreneurs.
Many people wrote how CCD helped them to get their life's most prominent projects, how CCD outlets on highways always meant decent washrooms for women, how they bonded and forged lifelong relationships in CCD etc. You see, CCD meant different things to different people, and it still does.
One of the best tributes to Mr VG Siddhartha I came across over the Internet: On a final note, I want to say that it's sad that Mr VG Siddhartha ended his life and thought himself as a failure, but sir, to the rest of the Indians, you were a success story, and your journey has inspired and continue to inspire us.
The demise of VG Siddhartha, founder, and chairman of Café Coffee Day is the death of a little part of our lives and marks an end of an era. Thank you for giving us so many priceless memories, and the entire country will always be grateful to you for all those special moments.
Rest in Peace, Sir.