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Shivam Shahi, 

Co-founder & COO
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IT HAS BEEN an exciting year of growth and expansion at Blue Tokai. It opened more than 30 cafes in FY23 in cities, including Chandigarh and Pune. Shivam Shahi, the 32-year-old engineer who joined co-founder Matt Chitharanjan and Namrata Asthana in 2015, says the company’s B2B business alone is growing at almost 2.5x each month. “We are also the largest non-instant brand on Amazon,” says Shahi. Last year, the Gurgaon-based company, involved in roasting, packaging and selling specialty coffee through physical and digital channels, also ventured into Japan, where the response has been promising, he adds.
In one of the world’s largest tea-producing nations, building an artisanal coffee business was not simple, says Shahi, who comes from an agricultural family in Uttar Pradesh’s Kushinagar district. It was hard to convince farmers to sell premium produce initially. Things have, however, changed in the last eight years. “In the beginning, when we would tell farmers and suppliers that India can be a (major) coffee-drinking nation and that there is a demand for high-quality coffee beans here, they would be surprised. The good produce in India was mostly exported back then.”
In January, the specialty coffee company closed a $30 million funding round led by venture capital fund A91 Partners.
Going ahead, Blue Tokai plans to open 60 more cafes this year in Pune, Chandigarh, Mumbai, and Delhi, taking the total number of locations it is present in to nearly 130 by FY24. It also expects to double its revenue. “Our spend-to-revenue ratio is above average. We want to improve it further. We are sort of break even right now, we want to be profitable this year,” concluded Shahi.