What keeps Rahul Leekha of Coffee by Di Bella charged during the weekends

Call it your Joe, Java or Jitter Juice, when it comes to coffee, like most people in the world, you want the best. Coffee by di Bella aims to bring you the best in the business. YS Weekender caught up Rahul Leekha, Director, Coffee by Di Bella to know his daily grind and his weekend pursuits.

What keeps Rahul Leekha of Coffee by Di Bella charged during the weekends

Friday February 15, 2019,

6 min Read

If a heavenly cup of coffee is your poison, are you ready to take it to the next level? How about a strong shot of espresso poured over several dollops of vanilla ice cream, covered with chocolate sprinkles? Or a warm pot of coffee served with Oreos, pretzels and cotton candy? Or a swirl of edible gold dust sparkling on the surface of your favourite brew?


It is this kind of innovation that has made Coffee by Di Bella one of the most loved coffee companies around. As Australia’s award-winning coffee company, it was one of the first companies to get blends from the world’s finest coffee growing regions.


When they opened their flagship store in Mumbai, it offered a wide range of premium international coffees, premium grade coffee beans and many aromatic and distinct coffee blends. YS Weekender spoke to Rahul Leekha, Director, Coffee by Di Bella, about his favourite leisure pursuits and his love for coffee.          


Hit the ground running

Rahul Leekha

Rahul says he grew up with his mum and twin sister and those were tough times as his mother had to bring up twins by herself. “After college, I took up a job and was blessed to have good bosses who believed in me and pushed me to achieve milestones,” he recalls.

“I started off in CXO level hiring which was hard but very rewarding. Then the company got sold to a Dutch firm during which period I tried my hand at entrepreneurship. I moved into a 150 sq ft office of my own and started my first company and we grew to a 10-member team in the very first year.”

Give it a shot

In 2014, Rahul was working on a project where he had to set up a food brand in Pune. On the day the project was completed, he moved back to Mumbai along with his wife Prerna.


“We were driving back in our old Hyundai i10 with its worn out tyres, which was a result of our weekly spins between Pune and Mumbai without any concrete plan for our next phase in life. Suddenly, I got a call from my close friend, Deepak who forced me to come out that night and meet a few Australians who were in the country.”


This was the Di Bella team and Rahul was in business the next morning.

“I started consulting for them and eventually landed up owning the brand! Now, we have 20 stores in Mumbai with another 10 in the pipeline by next quarter and another 150-store strategy planned out Pan India,” he says.


It has been a dream run for Rahul since then. “It is a great feeling to serve my customers, whether it is a one-year-old or an 80-year old who leaves with a smile. It gives me a sense of fulfillment and maybe one day will give it all back to society. I feel I am few of the blessed ones who gets to live their dreams! Especially, in a tough city like Bombay.”

As to how much he loves his line of work, he says, “I come from nothing hence I value everything. It isn't even about the money anymore. It is about being one of those chosen ones who get opportunities early on in their lives.”

 

Deja Brew

Coffee with edible gold dust is very popular nowadays

Rahul’s passion for coffee makes him work tirelessly to make his company different from others. Di Bella brings Premium A Grade beans sourced from different origins around the world to achieve a distinct taste profile on each blend. It is a constant endeavour to serve ‘The Ultimate Coffee Experience’, whether it was the successful innovation of the viral Freak-shakes and the lip-smacking Waffles. Along with the exclusive cafés, Coffee By Di Bella has also launched a new blend called the ‘Sydney blend’. This blend is being served through a ‘Specialty Coffee Menu’ which includes new additions like the cold brews, aero press, French press, pour overs to name a few.


They also serve freshly prepared gourmet food from their own kitchen. 

 

When asked about the entrepreneurship lessons he has learnt over the years, he says it is important to pursue your work with passion.

“Invest your heart and soul into delivering the best and most honest product,” he says. “Live up to expectations time and again and build trust. Also remember, numbers don’t lie. Always pay close attention to numbers. Learn to be emotionally attached to the business but not beyond a point where it is running only on emotions.”

 

Nothing like a good swim and a great trip

Rahul is happy to let us in on his love for swimming, travel and books.


Rahul finds that a good swim clears the head

Swimming is a sport he has loved since his childhood. “I was thrown in the deep-end at the age of seven. I taught myself how to swim and from then on, I love to swim. A good swim clears the head.”

 

As for his interest in travelling, he finds that it is always a learning experience.

“I love travelling and I always make it a point to travel almost every quarter. Travel teaches you a lot, exposes you to diverse cultures and opens up your mind.”

 

He enjoys both adventure and sports when on a holiday. “If I am heading to a beach destination, I enjoy scuba diving. But if I am going to the Swiss Alps, then I enjoy skiing there. Sports is always fun but I also like visiting some out of the way sights. I guess I am done with all the regular tourist places.”

 

Spill the beans

He has a few tips for travellers and as expected, it has to do with coffee.  “Always look for the boutique cafés wherever you go,” he says. “You will be surprised at the types of coffees you can find across the world.”


Making a good cup of coffee is an art form

As to the coffees he loves, Rahul says, “I love my Piccolo Latte. It’s a type of a cappuccino in an espresso cup. My next best coffee is the Syphon. It an age-old Japanese method of brewing coffee and is pure theatre.”

According to Rahul, brewing a good cup of coffee is not easy. “Making coffee is an art from, which needs a lot of practice, dedication and heart. Right from the grind-size, the pressure, the temperature and the pour, even a single deviation from the technique can make a big difference.”

 

Coffee is the world’s second largest beverage consumed after water, he adds. “It is a conversation, a lifestyle, an experience and so many emotions in a cup.”

 

As for the future…

 

Rahul has many plans for his company. “Like we did in Australia, our aim is to claim the status of being the Coffee Authority in India. We plan to open a 100-150 cafés across the country.”


And on his personal bucket list, is the dream of trying out more exceptional coffees. “I would like to visit Japan, try the awesome coffees they have. I would also like to go skydiving in Bora Bora in French Polynesia someday.”

 

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