A new South Indian coffee house is setting up shop on College Street, just west of Little Italy.
Madras Kaapi Coffee House is the new grab-and-go café that promises the best authentic filter kaapi (coffee) in Toronto. A departure from the classic Italian spots that line the street, this new coffee house welcomes you with an eclectic mix of colour and art, decorated with many quintessential South Indian pieces like urulis – a traditional cookware often in bronze, copper or clay and kolam – geometrical line drawing that brightens up the space.
The brand’s vibrant colourway featuring pink, orange and teal is echoed throughout the intimate, 10-person cafe.
Coffee lovers with an adventurous palate will love South Indian coffee, made very similarly to French press or the trademarked AeroPress method, but without the plunger that pushes the grounds downwards. As far as taste, chicory is added to the coffee beans to add a slightly nutty and more complex flavour profile to the strong brew.
Mixed with milk and sugar to balance out the strong, faintly bitter taste, the result is a smooth and perfectly balanced cup of coffee. A select collection of baked goods will also be available for purchase and the plan is to eventually open up the menu to offer more classic café bevvies like chai and hot chocolate.
Madras Kaapi Coffee House founders, Shilpa Kotamarthi and Aditya Srivathsan started Madras Kaapi in 2016 as an e-commerce company, selling the tools and accessories to brew your own perfect cup at home, including the filters and the coffee blends in addition to other fun gift items like scented candles, tote bags and prints.
Both growing up in South Indian homes, morning coffee was a ritual that left them both nostalgic and longing to spread that same joy for Kaapi to the masses.
The business began as a side hustle for the couple, who worked in marketing analytics and fintech. After years of balancing both, hosting pop-ups and setting up temporary shops – the duo decided to officially open their own brick-and-mortar. Aditya still works in the fintech space but helps Shilpa manage the space.
“Everything about opening a space has been challenging. This experience has many layers and there is no one to guide you along the way if you are new to the industry,” says Shilpa. “We are learning every day.”
In addition to the new space, the pair continues to offer event services. You can secure your own kaapi booth at your next wedding, corporate event, or birthday or host a private tasting for you and some friends. Looking to learn a little more about the history of South Indian coffee and how to brew your own perfect cup of java? Groups of six or more can register for kaapi classes on-site.
The 870 College Street spot opens this Friday, Dec. 3 – swing by to get your South Indian caffeine fix.