#Selfieccino is India’s first café that prints your selfies on coffee and milkshakes - and instantly, in a span of 40 seconds, at that!
When you see the new joint that completes the triad started by 99 Pancakes and Belgian Waffles in the bylanes of Kalaghoda, you wouldn’t be wrong to think it’s just another café.
The name, however, would intrigue you enough to draw you in. Outlandish - yet fortunately, very real - things like bubble waffles and Nutella filled hand-made churros dance their way to life in your imagination on the doodle-themed black and white menu, and its modest collection of coffees, mocktails, and milkshakes are just enticing enough to convince you that you knocked on the right door.
You’re already in your happy place when you’ve decided your weapons of choice and might be preparing to settle in, when the baristas tell you –
“Picture, abhi baaki hai mere dost!”
#Selfieccino is no ordinary café – it is the first café in India that lets you click your picture and drink it too!
While Mumbai-based Jesal Desai founded several businesses, albeit of a “conventional” nature like catering, corporate gifting, managing imports and the supply chain of the production of personalised gifts, his wife Vidhi Desai, is a management graduate, who has worked in the tea and spices industry while also being a digital marketing and research enthusiast.
“This was a fairly new concept when we came across it, and we were immediately keen on introducing India to it. Personalised coffee is right up the alley of the new generation that is on the constant lookout for innovation,” says Jesal.
The whole setup and research took eight months. “We decided to take this personalisation to another level and implemented this concept of having your picture printed on your drinks. The major challenge was to commercialise this process and make 200 coffees a day possible without people waiting in long queues,” says Vidhi.
They opened their first store on January 22 at a snug spot in Mumbai’s Kalaghoda area, albeit with an outdoorsy theme, with a turf floor and faux grass placed on the wall.
Their serving station is in the shape of a food truck – and the menu houses fun, premium desserts like protein-enriched bubble waffles, handcrafted churros, and of course, the signature ‘Selfieccino,’ for which, the canvases can either be your hot coffee or your milkshake.
The customers who opt for a “selfieccino” are given a phone number, which they are to send in their selfies via WhatsApp. The barista receives these images and transfers them on to an editing app on their desktop, and finally, loads them on to the machine. Simultaneously, as one member of the dream-team –or, should we say, cream-team - gets the photos in order, the other prepares the beverage.
In the case of a milkshake, a ginormous layer of whipped cream is lathered onto it, and its surface is evened out and made completely smooth with a sharp and flat tool like a knife - something that is therapeutically satisfying to watch, by the way – so that it embodies the image well.
In the case of a hot coffee, the coffee machine already releases plain, piping hot milk evenly onto the glass. Their espresso shot is made separately as their coffee beans are freshly ground, pounded and compressed into a shot, measured right down to the millilitre with a small conical apparatus.
Hassan Ali, the straw boss who digs the delighted gasps his sleight-of-hand coffee transformations elicit, excitedly tells me how they have devised an ingenious trick to add the espresso shot to the plain milk. “We pour it in from a teeny-tiny corner so that the perfect surface of the milk remains undisturbed,” he says.
Now, for the finale – the cup is fixed in position in the “cino machine” as its steely claws come for it. It is absorbed and lowered back in 30-40 seconds a changed – with the excited smile that was fixed on your face in the picture, now fixed in place on your beverage. The machine does a great job at interpreting the picture on to the cream, the colours are almost true to life, and the picture is strikingly delicious.
“The customers have been going absolutely crazy – I love how excited they get when they see their selfieccinos. This makes the whole café a much more cheerful place than others – and this is the prime reason I love my job!” says Hasan Ali.
“The concept of having your face printed on your coffee is bound to go viral. Word-of-mouth and social media will be playing a major role in popularising the concept for us,” adds Jesal.
They are on course to having served close to 4,500 users in the very first month. “We are the first in India to launch this. The uniqueness of this idea and our first mover advantage in India are definitely huge contributing factors to our growth,” says Vidhi. According to their latest forecasts, they are expecting Rs 2 lakh per month per store in revenues, with an expected recovery of total investment in the first 12-15 months. Within first 45 days, they will have three outlets, and plan to set up 12-15 stores by the end of 2018.