New Delhi is the capital of the largest functioning democracy on earth: India. The summers here are as fiery as the politics, peaking 113 degrees Fahrenheit. This time of year the most popular beverages around town are lassis (sweet thick buttermilk), chaas (buttermilk), and shikanjis (spicy spritzy lemonade), sipped to cool down this booming metropolis filled with movers and shakers and iconic monuments, where modern trimmings of the 21st century embrace centuries-old architecture and culture. The “City of Rallies” is filled with a thriving youthful population, there’s always something interesting to debate, discuss, and chatter over.
Coffee drinking culture has been around in New Delhi since at least 1962, when Devan’s opened what might be the first modern roasters in the city. This style of commercial-grade coffee purveyor are still a favorite for many locals, but today New Delhi’s coffee scene is in flux. Now more than ever before there is a noticeable difference in the quality of coffee and the way it is sourced, served, and sipped here in the capital city. Shops that roast their own coffee are particularly strong right now, contributing to coffee education and advocacy across the city, and they form the core of this guide.
New Delhi is home to a positively booming coffee culture. Here, in no particular order, are the cafes that help define the city today.
Savorworks Coffee & Chocolate Atelier
What happens when you combine the art of making chocolate, coffee, and add a huge helping of passion? You get Savorworks Roasters, located in the Chattarpur district of New Delhi. This is a cafe where every food and drink comes with its own story, and nothing is done the easy way.
Chocolate is roasted and mixed on-site and the same is true for the coffee. Every syrup, like the one in their Calamansi soda—a citrus hybrid between a lemon and tangerine—is prepared in house, and coffee producers are often invited to share their processes and stories. Nothing is left to chance here, and experience is at the forefront. Cofounder couple Baninder Singh and Paweena Withyasathien can be seen talking to customers, roasting, or taking part in daily activities at the establishment, which emphasize community. Pour-overs are thoughtfully served in three distinct origami cup shapes. Each cup is expertly designed to elevate and amplify the unique taste profile, providing a truly immersive and unforgettable experience. Even seemingly ordinary delights, such as the Black Forest cake are crafted with the utmost care. The experience here is never overpowering but instead offers a delightful harmony at every level.
Quick Brown Fox Coffee Roasters
Founder Vaibhav Bindal, a trained Q-grader, has a deep appreciation for the Dhan Mill Compound, a network of sheds that have now been converted into a vibrant retail shopping community. Each shop owner within this gated market has showcased their imagination by transforming their spaces, and QBF Coffee is no exception. Stepping inside transports you to a different era, where the charm and character of the surroundings are truly captivating. A blend of carefully positioned indoor plants along with wooden tones and abundant natural light create an atmosphere that beautifully blends Scandinavian and Japanese influences. Immerse yourself in a cinematic reality as American classics from the 1930s to the 1950s set the backdrop, allowing you to disconnect from the outside world.
Whether you’re catching up with friends or meeting business partners, this space provides the ideal ambiance. Their new menu has doubled in size, offering an extensive selection of food and brews. While local favorites include milk-based espresso drinks, don’t miss the opportunity to try their smooth nitro, always on tap—an absolute must-try. Having a few years of experience and know-how under its belt, QBF Coffee expects to open a new location in South Delhi in 2023.
Saltoro Coffee Roasters
Nestled in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, India, lies the picturesque planned city of Noida. A true sanctuary for nature enthusiasts, this planned city is now home to a bustling coffee culture. Started in 2020, during the lockdown by Natansh Bhayana, Saltoro is the name of a barren land shared by India and Pakistan. Inspired by a more European approach to coffee, Saltoro is always evolving and helping locals discover specialty coffee.
Today, Saltoro is managed jointly by the Creative Director, Shneel Bhayana, who says that the cafe is a space where the “bestest of friends and fiercest of enemies meet.” Situated on the rooftop of a thriving market scene in the area, Saltoro Coffee roasts are all credit to Natansh who uses the Silon ZR7 Coffee Roaster and a 2kg electric roaster. He single-handedly manages the entire roasting process for all the cafe drinks as well as commercial and online orders.
A bright space with an alluring coffee bar, Saltoro proudly invites visitors to have a conversation about the beverage they’re drinking. Mingling couples can while away the hours on their rooftop tables—allowing a welcome respite from New Delhi’s bustling streets. The indoor space offers everyone a chance to indulge in a finely brewed coffee or indulge in a mixture of healthy and indulgent food. Jain food offerings include a number of sandwiches and a vibrant customized quinoa Buddha Bowl.
Rossette Coffee Lab
Founded by Vansh Anand, a hospitality graduate with a personal penchant for coffee, Rossette Coffee Lab is situated on the second floor of a residential West Delhi building. The lab is a work in progress, having first opened its doors to the public in May 2023.
Heaps of green coffee bags from a wide variety of Indian estates welcome you as you enter this multipurpose space. Move a little further and you’ll be greeted by a cupping table and a number of espresso machines and gadgets of all varieties. While you can order any kind of coffee here, the idea is to pay for an experience—the chance to become a barista for a day. For Rs. 100 ($1.22 USD), you will be handed a test tube filled with coffee beans, which you can grind, tamp, and extract yourself a shot on the Conti Monaco or the Profitec Pro 700. Sign up for a special cupping session or just come in for a coffee with friends.
Speaking to Vansh or the customer turned co-founder, Aashrray Singla for even two minutes will give you an insider’s eye to the magic of specialty coffee. Ask them about their most recent origin visits and you’ll learn how even the robusta used is selectively handpicked, impacting the overall flavor of the coffee. Finally, pro-tip: the elevator may be shut off when you visit, but you should call ahead and nudge them to switch it on.
Founded by siblings Rasalika, Saudamini, and Krittivas Dalmia, Kaffa Cerrado is a roastery exploring coffees from across the world. They started out importing roasted beans, only to realize that the coffee had gone stale by the time it was brewed. So, like many others in New Delhi, they began roasting themselves.
When COVID hit, the founders shut down around eight cafes and in-store collaboration locations around New Delhi. Today only one full-experience cafe remains open along with another corporate tie-up. Due to heavy taxes placed on imported coffee in India, their offerings for coffee beans are slightly pricier than others. To introduce them to the variety of international coffees, patrons of the cafe can enjoy an international cup at minimally higher rates. Situated in an industrial area, the roastery and adjacent cafe offers a quiet space and window into the coffee roasting process—amidst the chaos of Okhla. The crowd is a combination of work-from-cafe regulars and coffee enthusiasts who come to experiment with various methods and roasts. Take time to enjoy their house blend espresso drinks, which feature Indian, Brazilian, and Ethiopian beans. Those craving handmade brews will definitely find the Colombian AeroPress and Ethiopian Chemex worth their while.
Photos provided by the cafes, used with permission