Dead coffee baron V.G. Siddhartha served up cafe culture in India way before Starbucks

That perfect brew came about in 1996 with a tagline touting 'a lot could happen over coffee'

Above: A portrait of the late Mr V.G. Siddhartha, founder of Cafe Coffee Day chain, displayed at the company's corporate office in Bangalore. Below: One of the outlets. The cafes offered young people a much-desired third place to hang out at, after h
A portrait of the late Mr V.G. Siddhartha, founder of Cafe Coffee Day chain, displayed at the company's corporate office in Bangalore. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Above: A portrait of the late Mr V.G. Siddhartha, founder of Cafe Coffee Day chain, displayed at the company's corporate office in Bangalore. Below: One of the outlets. The cafes offered young people a much-desired third place to hang out at, after h
One of the outlets. The cafes offered young people a much-desired third place to hang out at, after home and school.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Behind the trademark red and white counter of a Cafe Coffee Day in an old neighbourhood of Bangalore, a young barista makes a cappuccino in tears. She has just heard that Mr V.G. Siddhartha, the 60-year-old founder of India's largest coffee chain, may have committed suicide. A policeman can be heard on her smartphone saying his body had just been found in a river.

Ms Meghana, who has worked in the cafe for only eight months, is heartbroken. She last met Mr Siddhartha on one of his famed quarterly visits to every one of the city's outlets.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 01, 2019, with the headline 'Coffee baron served up cafe culture in India way before Starbucks'. Subscribe