A Profile of India’s iconic and its most-loved Cafes


India has had a long history of iconic coffeehouses that have been at the centre of some of the most vigorous social and political debates in our history. Unlike today, coffee shops of the yesteryears weren’t just a place to grab the daily dose of caffeine but rather were spaces that were more than often greeted by intellectuals for the purpose of socializing and roiling artistic thoughts. From hosting meetings of potential couples to enabling the secret assembling of freedom-fighters, it seems as though these coffee joints have seen different phases of the country through the decades.

Though the olden days have passed by, these iconic coffee houses still retain the hospitality and charm of yesteryears. If you are fond of coffee as much as I am, check out the list below so that the next time you are in these respective cities, you can pay a visit to these iconic cafes!

Brahmin’s Coffee Bar, Bangalore

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Commenced in the 1960’s by Narsimha Rao, this venture is famed for its unparalleled south Indian treats and delicious coffee. Now even five decades later, the menu has still remained the same, with kara bhath, sweet kesar bhath, vade, idli, to their crowning glory – the coffee. Though every second corner of the city is now occupied by cafes, tea shops, and restaurants, the old charm of Brahmin’s takes you back on a nostalgic trip.

United Coffee House, Delhi

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Founded in 1942 by late Lala Raj Kalra, the United Coffee House in Connaught Place emerged when the Quit India movement was flaring up. This was and continues to be one space that brought the many cultural diversities of Delhi under a common roof, just the way the founder had envisioned. Though the coffee house was frequently visited by artists, intellectuals, and affluent entrepreneurs, it is also believed to have been a match-making hub for families. salli boti, badshahi kofta, mutton samosa, chikki kulfi, and their extensive versions of coffee – from traditional to flavoured and more – are must-have!

Prithvi Café, Mumbai

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If you happen to visit Mumbai, Prithvi Café is a place that you cannot afford to miss. What started as an afterthought has now emerged to become one of the city’s most visited and beloved cafes, housing people of all age groups. From college students to artists, tourists to professionals, you’ll come across all sorts of food enthusiasts and coffee lovers. Don’t forget their much-popular bun maska and multi-grain paranthas, and Irish coffee!

Flury’s, Kolkata

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Unaffected by the chaotic developments in the city, Flury’s is that one spot that remains unhurried and resonates with people possessing fondness for the old-world charm. If coffee and freshly baked goodies are what drives you and make you happy, then visiting the renowned Flury’s should be on your to-do list. This cafe was set up by a Swiss couple in 1927 and till date, happens to be a home away from home for a lot of locals in the city.

Madras Coffee House, Chennai

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A cosy vibe, friendly staff, and incomparable varieties of coffees is what represents Madras Coffee House. This is one of the country’s most popular, oldest, and sought-after places. It’s safe to say that Madras Coffee House is nirvana for coffee lovers, especially the filtered version.

Glenary’s Bakery, Darjeeling

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Glenary’s Bakery & Cafe, also known as the Glenary’s Cake Shop, run by the Edwards family, is a prominent landmark of Darjeeling and existing since the British colonial days. It is an ideal place for a good chat over coffee, or to just hang out after a stroll around the Mall. From sandwiches to pies, muffins to tarts, sausage rolls to paneer Manchurian to a wide variety of freshly brewed coffees, you get them all!

Indian Coffee House, Shimla

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The oldest café in Shimla, the Indian Coffee House hasn’t changed a bit in the four-plus decades. Always crowded, Indian Coffee House retains its old-world charm and a visit is sure to bring in nostalgia of times past. Whatever the food, a hot cup of steaming filter coffee is a must-have. Some of our favourites are spicy vegetable cutlet, masala dosa, mutton dosa and the idli-sambhar.

Going back to history, even though the new age cafes have captured and lightened up the cities around India, these vintage coffee houses still remain our favourites, owing to its charm and earthy vibes. After all, the saying rightly goes, old is gold ­– and this applies aptly as far as coffee houses are concerned.