Cold brew coffee market is growing in India

Ajai Thandi, Co-Founder, Sleepy Owl, rethinks the traditional in-home coffee experience with an initial seed fund of INR 35 million (US$500,000) from DSG Consumer Partners. From its current retail presence of 30 stores, Thandi plans to take it to 100 stores in the next 6 months.


TILL A few years ago, the large-scale coffee consumption was driven and dominated by ready-to-drink coffee. Today, the artisanal coffee wave has become a movement of sorts. The latest dimension in this movement is the ever-growing popularity of cold brew in India.

Sleepy Owl is a cold brew coffee packaged in an easy to dispense tap packaging. Cold brewing is the process of steeping coffee in cold water and there is no application of external heat. The long-brewing time is more than 21 hours, instead of high-temperature results in a completely different flavor profile and the end product is a coffee that is naturally sweet, less acidic and significantly less bitter. This can be served hot, chilled with ice, water, milk or as a part in any other customizable coffee-based beverage.

Indians traditionally used to instant coffee or popular café chains have begun experimenting with their tastes. Ajai Thandi, Co-Founder, Sleepy Owl, along with his two friends re-conceived the in-home coffee experience.

All three are coffee lovers and understand that brewing great coffee is complicated and tedious. So they decided a convenient way to help people consume high-quality coffee on a daily basis without doing the work that goes into preparing one. “Sourcing the best quality beans from Chikmaglur, Karnataka, medium-roast them to extract all the chocolaty, nutty flavours, our first product in the market is a 1.5 litre and 600 ml box that is a super smooth black coffee and you can customise it the way you like with milk, sugar or straight up,” said Thandi who has recently raised a seed fund of INR 35 million (US$500,000) from DSG Consumer Partners (DSGCP).

With the current retail presence of 30 stores, Thandi plans to take it to 100 stores in the next 6 months.

“Globally cold brew industry has experienced exponential growth over the past decade. We have pioneered the direct to consumer Cold Brew Box, offering a convenient way for consumers to enjoy fresh cold brew made using 100% Arabica coffee,” explains Thandi.

Founded in June 2016, the word ‘Sleepy Owl’ is an oxymoron that resonates very well with coffee. “One usually has coffee when they are Sleepy and the owl doesn’t sleep at night. We felt Sleepy Owl as a name can stick well with the consumers and will be helpful in building a powerful consumer brand,” smiles Thandi.

The team plans to focus on product development and expand manufacturing capabilities to enlarge the product portfolio and in the rapidly growing Indian retail coffee market, estimated to cross $5 billion by 2020. “Concurrently, we will continue to streamline operations and expand production to ensure that we deliver on our promise of excellent user experience to our customers,” he said.

“With the tea market becoming exponentially larger than coffee, the average consumption of tea to coffee is 30:1. So there is a tonne of white space for ‘Sleepy Owl’ to grow through its differentiated product offerings,” concludes Thandi.

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