One good reason to wake up and smell the coffee... Costa Coffee

Barista and CCD (Cafe Coffee Day) brought in the coffee shop revolution in India. We would have spent far less time in pubs like Totos, Temptations and Gokul (!) if these coffee shops were there when I came to Mumbai ten years back. And now I am married to a coffee shop junkie.

But coffee lovers like Scarlett (see pt 5 in this post) and me find the coffee at CCD and Barista to be a bit tepid and insipid for our liking. To put it bluntly you often need to remind yourself that their cappuccinos have coffee. Your taste buds don't send you that message.

Gloria Jean's is one good option for a full flavoured, robust coffee. Their outlet at Bandra's Turner Road (no loo) is cosy, buzzing and you get to see the odd celeb there. The coffee is good. As are the cheesecakes. The tea cakes and brownies are uninspiring though. But the sandwiches (smoked chicken), Cajun chicken turnover and chicken croissant are fairly tasty for coffee shop fare. The service is wonky though and ranges from friendly to absent minded (lukewarm coffee instead of hot, mug when you specify 'to go'). They have a larger branch at the Oberi Mall at Goregaon.

The entry of the international Costa Coffee chain is a welcome relief here. They serve really nice coffees... which taste like coffee to start with. Strong, invigorating and perk you up. They have two branches (the one near Chroma gets a bit warm inside) at Phoenix Mall. They are there at the domestic airport and at Inrbit Malad too. The shops look nice and fuzzy with yellow ambient lighting, green and brown striped upholstery and sofas.

The Inorbit one has a Cookieman outlet beside it and I would strongly recommend the milky chewy chocolate cookie there.

The Costa food is pretty good. They have a range of sandwiches and interesting breads too. Some eats worth trying out are the chicken tostatas, chocolate avellota (biscotti, peppered with raissins, smeared with chocolate, too sweet for one person to have alone, not sure of the name) and turkey foccacias. I haven't tried them myself but they have salads and pastas too.

I'd stepped into a Costa outlet at Dubai's Mall of Emirates recently and the coffee tasted the same. In fact better than the coffee we had at the Burjaman mall Starbucks earlier in the morning.

Everything in life comes at a cost of course. A small cappuccino at CCD/ Barista is Rs 50 (1 USD), at Gloria's (Rs 55) and Rs 80 (1.5 USD) at Costa. CCD sandwiches cost Rs 60 while the ones at Costa are Rs 100 (2 USD) plus.

So what you need to ask yourself is do you really love your coffee?