A non-canonical history of the pleasures of drinking Hotel Saravana Bhavan Coffee.


In these few years on Earth, there are absolutely few things I can be absolutely sure about. OK, let me just say that there are two things that I can be sure about: one is that I have very bad grammar and I’m not afraid to hide it and the other is, Saravana Bhavan Coffee is in fact the best in the world.

But how can I come to such a conclusion? A 73 year coffee veteran asks me from behind his Hindu paper, he thinks his wife made the best coffee on earth; another email simply queried if I had tasted the rich and growing aroma of Brazilian coffee. To these questions I say, “Boss this is an article not a food and beverage award gala”

Very well, knowing that I could be entirely wrong, please read below as I will somehow try to convince you why it is so, I hope I do not take much of your time.

Skipping all the relevant history, I live at about 1.2 kms away from one of the oldest branches of this venerable enterprise called “Hotel Saravana Bhavan(HSB)”, I believe that it does have its benefits say for example you just live 1.2 kilometres away from the best coffee in the world.( Editor notes: drilling in point of article #1)

Given the fact, that some fellow somewhere is going to raise his thick hand and say, “bah this HSB and all too costly, you can have coffee for ten rupees at corner shop.”

But then for that you needn’t have gone to Kellogg school of business to study retail management na, you could have just joined your uncle’s Kumaran provision store.

Whenever this value for money topic comes up, I always ask the people who are so aware of this money business, is it a sin to spend a little more (yes the coffee is priced higher than other hotels) for something that is dear to you, something that gets inside your system and makes you feel good at the same time something which is not banned by the government? Look no further, HSB coffee is the best.

“But there are so many hotels which serve the better coffee; some even have the traditional davara-tumbler and all. What do you say to those?” asks the knowledgeable elder.

“You haven’t even tasted different types of coffee! Too wild and narrow proclamation to make” exclaims the email correspondent who was possibly using free wi-fi from an airport somewhere.

To that I have only one answer, you could possibly be right. It may be true that HSB coffee might not be the best in the world, nor it may be traditionally prepared, but it surely has the uniform taste more or less in every branch in the city and that taste completely works for me.

I usually have my coffee alone, except perhaps a magazine, it is not because of the need to be alone, but I believe that it helps me calm down when I’m thinking. I would like to imagine the brown liquid going inside my body and pacifying the gushing red liquid, but then I may be wrong (ED NOTES: drilling article premise #1, stick with the topic, kid) and it is not that I haven’t been happy with coffees from elsewhere, but it is just that with HSB you know how it is going to taste and you can go back to worrying about what you were really worrying about. Thus I can say… (ED NOTES: Good! Drilling in bolding point of article#2)

This is purely a personal viewpoint, if you are a tea drinker you are possibly removing thumb impression based dirt from your laptop keyboards (ED NOTES: NO! Do not antagonise your enemies [as in tea drinkers]!)


This is purely a personal viewpoint, one cannot expect to be overwhelmed by the standards of coffee being served in restaurants, but it is not wrong to demand good coffee either. By using simple logic you will arrive at a win-win situation type solution. By paying a standard amount and in return getting a coffee which tastes the way you want it, every time and almost everywhere around you. If you are a Chennai resident it is quite possible that the nearest police station from your place is farther than your nearest HSB. (ED NOTES: Good use of wildly unbelievable but I dare not try and verify this type of statistic! You’re a writer, kid!)

Even let us assume that you have not fallen for my argument, you feel that I am an agent employed by that capitalist restaurant to boost its sales, you think that the yellow-gold-brown mushroom cloud type froth will not melt your cynical heart, you do not even care for that thick brown liquid that somehow rightly balances itself between sour and sweet. Then I can only say that you have not had the good fortune of waiting for that perfect coffee.

(ED NOTES: Yes! The emotional stabbing, we might even get some awards for this, cool but don’t be hopeful mostly they are minor)

I drink coffee after everything, after breakfast, after dinner, after a snack. Hell I drink coffee after drinking coffees, and the lord knows that I will stop some day and I will become a sensible adult who does not write teary eyed articles on the benefits of coffee; but what I will always remember is the answer to that sweet question so often asked by HSB servers, “Anything else, sir?”

Yes, one coffee please.


2 replies on “ANYTHING ELSE, SIR?”

Seems Saravana Bhvan has been sold to ‘The Family’ by Annacchi. Not sure if coffee would continue to be good. But the international franchises have not been sold it seems. So I would continue to get the same coffee albeit a tad expensive.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s