File:Indian Coffee House.jpg

The Indian Coffee House is a restaurant chain in India, run by a series of worker co-operative societies. It has strong presence across India. [1] There are nearly 400 coffee houses all over India, which are a part of the chain.[2]


The India Coffee Houses were started by the Coffee Board in early 1940s, during British rule. In the mid 1950s the Board closed down the Coffee Houses, due to a policy change. The thrown-out workers then took over the branches, under the leadership of the communist leader A. K. Gopalan and renamed the network as Indian Coffee House. The first Indian Coffee Workers Co-Operative Society was founded in Bangalore on August 19, 1957. The first Indian Coffee House was opened in New Delhi on October 27, 1957.[1] Gradually, the Indian Coffee House chain expanded across the country.

Dates of the formation of the societies:

Place Date of formation
Bangalore August 19, 1957
Delhi October 29, 1957
Pondicherry January 31, 1958
Thrissur February 10, 1958
Lucknow February 02, 1958
Nagpur February 02, 1958
Jabalpur April 4, 1958
Mumbai (Bombay) July 3, 1958
Kolkata (Calcutta) September 13, 1958
Tellicherry July 8, 1958
Pune October 14, 1958

Later Bellary and Madras (Chennai) Societies were separated from their mother societies.

The movement marked its golden jubilee in the year 2007.


There are 13 co-operative societies in the country to run the coffee houses. These societies are governed by managing committees elected from the employees. There is also a federation of the co-operative societies as the national umbrella organisation to lead these societies."[3].


Kerala has the largest number of Indian Coffee Houses. Advocate T. K. Krishnan, a Communist Leader of Thrissur and Nadakkal (N. S.) Parameswaran Pillai, or "Coffee House Pillai" the State Secretary of the India Coffee Board Labour Union and a thrown-out employee of ICH were the founders of ICHs in Kerala. The first Indian Coffee House of Kerala was started in Thrissur in 1958. It was also the fourth ICH in the country. It was inaugurated by A. K. Gopalan on March 8, 1958.

There is also an alternative history book about the ICH movement, in Malayalam, the regional language of Kerala - Coffee Housinte Katha or History of Coffee House by Nadaakkal Parameswaran Pillai. This is the only published written history of ICH movement in any language. All details of the movement referred in this article is based on that book.


The Indian Coffee House has several branches in Kolkata, including the College Street branch, Central Avenue branch, Medical College Kolkata branch and Jadavpur branch. These are favourite hang-out places among the students and youth, although one can see several old-timers frequenting the coffee houses on a regular basis.

Coffee House at College StreetEdit

The most famous Coffee House branch in Kolkata is the one at the College Street, also known as the "Coffee House at College Street". It is situated opposite the Presidency College, Kolkata and has been for a long time a regular hang out for students (and ex-students) of the Presidency College, University of Calcutta, and other institutions in College Street.

The history of the Coffee House at College Street can be traced to Albert Hall, which was founded in April 1876.[4] Later, the Coffee Board decided to start a coffee joint from the Albert Hall in 1942. Notable citizens, including Rabindranath Tagore and Subhas Chandra Bose, were frequent visitors to the place.[5] In 1947, the Central Government changed the name of the place to "Coffee House".[6] The place became a meeting place for the poets, artistes, literati and people from the world of art and culture. In 1958, the management decided to shut down the Coffee House, but it was re-opened the same year, after professors of Presidency College and Calcutta University rushed off a special petition to the government, to save the heritage place.

The prestige of the Coffee House increased with regular visitors such as Satyajit Ray, Manna Dey, Amartya Sen, Mrinal Sen and Aparna Sen[6] The Coffee House is of historical significance for being the rendezvous of innumerable versatile people, from its inception to date. Scholars, editors, artists and writers like Jagadish Chandra Bose, Ritwik Ghatak, Narayan Gangopadhyay, Sunil Gangopadhyay, Sanjeev Chattopadhyay, Samaresh Majumdar, Subhas Mukhopadhyay and Shakti Chattopadhyay) have been just a few among the patrons of the restaurant. Several literary magazines owe their origin to the inspiration from the adda sessions at this coffee house.

Though popularly known as College Street Coffee house, this branch is actually on Bankim Chatterjee Street. The coffee house is famous for its adda sessions, and as the breeding place of several political and cultural personalities and movements. Many people come here just for the sake of adda and just being a part of the long talking sessions. Several talented and illustrious persons from different streams have been thronging this renowned adda for a long time.

In 2006, a huge financial crunch kept the co-operative society from undertaking renovation of the coffee house. Though a few companies such as Asian Paints approached the society with offers to renovate the restaurant, the offers were refused due to clash of norms and conditions.[5]

Other placesEdit

The Indian Coffee House branch in Sector 17 of Chandigarh was opened in 1964 and remained popular among professionals, journalists, doctors, bureaucrats, lawyers and senior officials.[7]. The branch originally operated in Sector 22, and was shifted to Sector 17 in 1971. The Coffee House on the Punjab University campus is popular among students.

The Indian Coffee House branch in Dharamsala used to be a popular hang-out of intelligentsia in the city. It was set up, after the district administration approached the Indian Coffee Workers' Co-operative Society, Delhi in 1991. The society decided to close it down in 2006, after losses ran over 35 lakh rupees.[2]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Template:Cite web
  2. 2.0 2.1 Template:Cite web
  3. Indian coffee House
  4. Cuppa At Coffee House
  5. 5.0 5.1 Funds crunch cripples College St Coffee House
  6. 6.0 6.1 Flavours of another era
  7. Coffee House charm intact

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit

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