Flying Squirrel perks a plan to serve artisan coffee

Bengaluru-based firm plans to take its product from online to roastery-cum-cafés 

MUMBAI, AUGUST 16: Artisan roasted gourmet coffee might not grab you attention. But when it is named Flying Squirrel it does stir up some interest, especially when one shares a cup with Ashish D’Abreo, hardcore filter coffee drinker and founder of Flying Squirrel, who is more than happy to spill the beans on the growing coffee market.

A Creative Director with Origami, an advertising firm in Bengaluru, for 15 years, Ashish noticed how the coffee being served to the clients in the firm repeatedly came in for high accolades. Personally, Ashish dreamt of having different variants of filter coffee every day of the week. He decided to team up with his college friend Tej Thammaiah.

“Tej is a third-generation coffee farmer and owns a coffee estate (Nellikad Estate) at Pollibetta in Coorg; so a no-brainer. Since college days, we used to have his coffee in our house every morning. Some three years ago, we thought: ‘Why not bring this coffee in the open, why not have a lot more people experience the joy of a personalised and creatively cultivated brand of coffee,” says D’Abreo.

And so started the research and development process on Tej’s coffee estate, “to develop the beans and experiment with the growing and the drying processes, so as to arrive at certain points we were proud of,” says D’Abreo. The two-year-long R&D process netted six different variants of coffee, but “there was no one in the mail-order coffee business at that time to take this ahead.”

Working with an advertising firm helped, given its expertise in branding, design, digital marketing and advertising. Three other partners in the advertising firm, “who saw value in the idea” pitched in.

Since one of the most frequent visitors on the coffee estate was the Malabar flying squirrel, the team decided naming the company Flying Squirrel.

“Our coffee was launched two-and-a-half years ago. We partnered with logisitics company GoJavas, (which shut operations last week), at the outset, due to which we managed deliveries across India from day one 1,” reminisces D’Abreo.

He went on to add that initially, roasting of the coffee beans would be done only once a week. “We now do it thrice a week, given the jump in orders. Depending on customer orders, we collate and roast the beans either in medium roast, dark roast, or fine grind. Each pack is customised.”

Shelf life
The company does not have any huge machinery. “We roast the coffee 15 minutes before sealing each pack,” says D’Abreo, who believes in the dictum that exclusivity of freshly ground coffee goes to waste when coffee products are stored in shelves for an extended period of time.

“Not many people know, but coffee is a perishable product. Filter coffee, especially, should be consumed within a month of roasting. There is no harsh taste, no aroma, no flavour left afterwards, and the notes have all but vanished. We set out to solve this problem. We have hardly any retail shelf life.”

Flying Squirrel is currently available online. Its “exclusive personalised roasting” ensures a better coffee experience for avid filter coffee drinkers, affirms D’Abreo, who quit his post at Origami three months ago, to devote himself full-time to the coffee business.

The next chapter is to get into the cafe business. “We would like to bring this experience to a coffee drinker at the ground level, apart from online sales. So we decided to start a roastery, do the roasting in-house and run a roastery-cum-café.”

The first of such cafés has opened shop at Koramangala in Bengaluru. The plan is to have multiple such cafés in Bengaluru and Goa. Most of the coffee beans are sourced from Thammaiah’s estate.

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