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Kolkata Chai Co.: How The Sanyal Brothers Are Reviving Chai's Roots in America

Kolkata Chai Co.: How The Sanyal Brothers Are Reviving Chai's Roots in America

TLDR

Brothers Ayan and Ani founded Kolkata Chai Co., providing an authentic Indian experience through food, drinks, and decor. Customers can enjoy traditional masala chai, Indian pastries, and special spice blends sold in attractive packaging. The cafe aims to showcase South Asian culture by serving as a gathering place for the local Indian community.

Bringing Authentic Indian Chai to NYC

Reviving Chai's Roots

Kolkata Chai Co. was founded by Indian brothers Ayan and Ani Sanyal to reclaim masala chai and promote South Asian ownership in New York City's chai scene. Unlike mainstream chai brands that rely on terms like “chai latte,” Kolkata Chai offers authentic masala chai made from organic black tea and a signature blend of spices.

Blending Tradition and Modernity

While honoring chai’s origins, Kolkata Chai has created a menu that fuses Indian tradition with New York’s café culture. In addition to masala chai, the cafés offer masala chai-infused lattes, masala chai doughnuts, and croissants from local bakery Choc o Pain. This blend of the familiar and novel aims to introduce New Yorkers to authentic masala chai in an accessible way.

Promoting Representation

Beyond masala chai, Kolkata Chai Co. aims to amplify South Asian voices in New York's food scene. The Sanyal brothers criticize mainstream chai companies for appropriating Indian culture without South Asian representation or ownership. In contrast, Kolkata Chai Co. promotes diversity and empowerment. The cafés' bright interiors pay homage to Kolkata, with rickshaw-colored packaging and Bengali phrases adorning the walls. By sharing masala chai and Bengali culture with New York, the chai brand spreads awareness of an often-overlooked region.

Through masala chai, community, and representation, Kolkata Chai Co. brings the vibrant spirit of Kolkata to New York City. The brothers have crafted an empowering space where people connect over chai—just as they have for generations. By honoring tradition yet embracing innovation, Kolkata Chai Co. is reviving masala chai in an authentic, meaningful way.

The Journey of Blending Tradition and Innovation

Ani and Ayan aimed to introduce authentic masala chai to New Yorkers through their cafe, Kolkata Chai Co. By partnering with local bakeries and using fresh, traditional ingredients, they brought the flavor of South Asia to the streets of America.

Reviving an Ancient Tradition

Kolkata Chai produces masala chai following a traditional Bengali recipe using fresh spices like cardamom, ginger, and cloves. The owners saw an opportunity to share this integral part of their culture with New Yorkers accustomed to pre-packaged chai concentrates. Through their dedication to tradition, Kolkata Chai provides an authentic chai experience reminiscent of the bustling streets of Kolkata.

Blending Cultures Through Innovation

While honoring tradition, the Sanyal brothers also celebrate New York's cafe culture. They collaborated with popular bakeries like Choc o Pain to provide croissants and other pastries alongside their masala chai. This fusion of South Asian chai and French baking captures the cultural blend at the heart of New York City.

Expansion Plans for Kolkata Chai Co.

Expanding Retail Presence

Despite currently operating from a limited space, Kolkata Chai Co. has ambitious plans to expand its retail presence. The Sanyal brothers raised $1 million to fund their expansion, allowing them to bring their authentic masala chai and South Asian-inspired menu to new locations. Their pitch deck convinced investors of the potential to share the culinary traditions of Kolkata with a wider audience.

Product Innovation

While staying true to tradition, Kolkata Chai Co. aims to continue innovating. Their menu artfully combines South Asian flavors with elements of modern cafe culture, as evidenced through partnerships with local bakeries. The founders hope to build on this success by creating new chai-inspired products for retail, sharing the vibrant tastes and colors of Kolkata with customers at home.

Increasing South Asian Representation

At the heart of Kolkata Chai Co. lies a mission to reclaim and elevate South Asian culture. The brand's packaging and visual identity pay homage to the city of Kolkata, transporting customers to its bustling streets. By bringing greater South Asian ownership and representation to the American chai market, Kolkata Chai Co. challenges stereotypes of chai as a drink marketed solely towards Westerners. Through their expansion, the Sanyal brothers aim to spread awareness of Kolkata's rich cultural traditions and share them with diverse communities.

Overall, despite space constraints, Kolkata Chai Co. has ambitious plans for growth to bring its mission of cultural representation and chai excellence to new audiences. By securing investor funding and developing innovative products, they are poised to expand beyond their cozy East Village cafe into a nationally recognized brand. The Sanyal brothers' vision and passion for sharing their heritage and reviving chai's roots in America position them well for success.

Signature Menu Items and Branding That Transport You to Kolkata

Authentic Masala Chai

The Sanyal brothers aimed to bring the authentic taste of Kolkata’s masala chai to New York through organic, ethically-sourced ingredients. Their signature masala chai blend features organic Assam tea and whole cardamom pods, delivering a traditional Indian chai experience. Patrons can enjoy the masala chai hot or iced, with or without milk and sugar. For an interactive experience, Kolkata Chai Co. offers a do-it-yourself masala chai kit, allowing customers to personalize their perfect cup of chai.

Merchandising That Evokes Nostalgia

Kolkata Chai Co.’s merchandise and branding transport customers to the streets of Kolkata. Their masala chai mix packaging features the iconic green and yellow colors of Kolkata’s auto-rickshaws. The interior design of Kolkata Chai Co. also pays homage to their Indian roots with vibrant colors and textures reminiscent of Kolkata. These visuals foster nostalgia in customers and celebrate Kolkata's cultural heritage.

A Menu That Spans Continents

While Kolkata Chai Co. specializes in masala chai and Indian fare like egg rolls, their menu also incorporates European influences through a partnership with a local French bakery. Croissants and other pastries are available to pair with Kolkata Chai Co.’s signature masala chai, fusing Indian and French flavors. This blend of cultures on their menu reflects the Sanyal brothers’ vision of bringing Indian tradition to America in an approachable yet authentic way.

Kolkata Chai Co. has established itself as a pioneer in the ready-to-drink chai market by reclaiming masala chai’s narrative and sharing it with the diverse communities of New York. Their menu, branding, and ethos celebrate Kolkata’s rich culture while also embracing the multicultural spirit of America. The Sanyal brothers have crafted an oasis where patrons can savor masala chai, reminisce of Kolkata’s allure, and foster cultural connections.

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, the Sanyal brothers have succeeded in bringing the authentic chai experience to New York through Kolkata Chai Co. By partnering with local bakeries and using fresh, traditional ingredients, they've created a menu that fuses South Asian and American flavors. Their beautiful packaging and branding transport customers to the bustling streets of Kolkata. As they look to expand and distribute their signature masala chai blends, the Sanyals have carved out a unique niche honoring their heritage while embracing New York's diverse cafe culture. Their inspiring story shows how food entrepreneurs can share their roots in an inviting way.

TLDR

Brothers Ayan and Ani founded Kolkata Chai Co., providing an authentic Indian experience through food, drinks, and decor. Customers can enjoy traditional masala chai, Indian pastries, and special spice blends sold in attractive packaging. The cafe aims to showcase South Asian culture by serving as a gathering place for the local Indian community.

Bringing Authentic Indian Chai to NYC

Reviving Chai's Roots

Kolkata Chai Co. was founded by Indian brothers Ayan and Ani Sanyal to reclaim masala chai and promote South Asian ownership in New York City's chai scene. Unlike mainstream chai brands that rely on terms like “chai latte,” Kolkata Chai offers authentic masala chai made from organic black tea and a signature blend of spices.

Blending Tradition and Modernity

While honoring chai’s origins, Kolkata Chai has created a menu that fuses Indian tradition with New York’s café culture. In addition to masala chai, the cafés offer masala chai-infused lattes, masala chai doughnuts, and croissants from local bakery Choc o Pain. This blend of the familiar and novel aims to introduce New Yorkers to authentic masala chai in an accessible way.

Promoting Representation

Beyond masala chai, Kolkata Chai Co. aims to amplify South Asian voices in New York's food scene. The Sanyal brothers criticize mainstream chai companies for appropriating Indian culture without South Asian representation or ownership. In contrast, Kolkata Chai Co. promotes diversity and empowerment. The cafés' bright interiors pay homage to Kolkata, with rickshaw-colored packaging and Bengali phrases adorning the walls. By sharing masala chai and Bengali culture with New York, the chai brand spreads awareness of an often-overlooked region.

Through masala chai, community, and representation, Kolkata Chai Co. brings the vibrant spirit of Kolkata to New York City. The brothers have crafted an empowering space where people connect over chai—just as they have for generations. By honoring tradition yet embracing innovation, Kolkata Chai Co. is reviving masala chai in an authentic, meaningful way.

The Journey of Blending Tradition and Innovation

Ani and Ayan aimed to introduce authentic masala chai to New Yorkers through their cafe, Kolkata Chai Co. By partnering with local bakeries and using fresh, traditional ingredients, they brought the flavor of South Asia to the streets of America.

Reviving an Ancient Tradition

Kolkata Chai produces masala chai following a traditional Bengali recipe using fresh spices like cardamom, ginger, and cloves. The owners saw an opportunity to share this integral part of their culture with New Yorkers accustomed to pre-packaged chai concentrates. Through their dedication to tradition, Kolkata Chai provides an authentic chai experience reminiscent of the bustling streets of Kolkata.

Blending Cultures Through Innovation

While honoring tradition, the Sanyal brothers also celebrate New York's cafe culture. They collaborated with popular bakeries like Choc o Pain to provide croissants and other pastries alongside their masala chai. This fusion of South Asian chai and French baking captures the cultural blend at the heart of New York City.

Expansion Plans for Kolkata Chai Co.

Expanding Retail Presence

Despite currently operating from a limited space, Kolkata Chai Co. has ambitious plans to expand its retail presence. The Sanyal brothers raised $1 million to fund their expansion, allowing them to bring their authentic masala chai and South Asian-inspired menu to new locations. Their pitch deck convinced investors of the potential to share the culinary traditions of Kolkata with a wider audience.

Product Innovation

While staying true to tradition, Kolkata Chai Co. aims to continue innovating. Their menu artfully combines South Asian flavors with elements of modern cafe culture, as evidenced through partnerships with local bakeries. The founders hope to build on this success by creating new chai-inspired products for retail, sharing the vibrant tastes and colors of Kolkata with customers at home.

Increasing South Asian Representation

At the heart of Kolkata Chai Co. lies a mission to reclaim and elevate South Asian culture. The brand's packaging and visual identity pay homage to the city of Kolkata, transporting customers to its bustling streets. By bringing greater South Asian ownership and representation to the American chai market, Kolkata Chai Co. challenges stereotypes of chai as a drink marketed solely towards Westerners. Through their expansion, the Sanyal brothers aim to spread awareness of Kolkata's rich cultural traditions and share them with diverse communities.

Overall, despite space constraints, Kolkata Chai Co. has ambitious plans for growth to bring its mission of cultural representation and chai excellence to new audiences. By securing investor funding and developing innovative products, they are poised to expand beyond their cozy East Village cafe into a nationally recognized brand. The Sanyal brothers' vision and passion for sharing their heritage and reviving chai's roots in America position them well for success.

Signature Menu Items and Branding That Transport You to Kolkata

Authentic Masala Chai

The Sanyal brothers aimed to bring the authentic taste of Kolkata’s masala chai to New York through organic, ethically-sourced ingredients. Their signature masala chai blend features organic Assam tea and whole cardamom pods, delivering a traditional Indian chai experience. Patrons can enjoy the masala chai hot or iced, with or without milk and sugar. For an interactive experience, Kolkata Chai Co. offers a do-it-yourself masala chai kit, allowing customers to personalize their perfect cup of chai.

Merchandising That Evokes Nostalgia

Kolkata Chai Co.’s merchandise and branding transport customers to the streets of Kolkata. Their masala chai mix packaging features the iconic green and yellow colors of Kolkata’s auto-rickshaws. The interior design of Kolkata Chai Co. also pays homage to their Indian roots with vibrant colors and textures reminiscent of Kolkata. These visuals foster nostalgia in customers and celebrate Kolkata's cultural heritage.

A Menu That Spans Continents

While Kolkata Chai Co. specializes in masala chai and Indian fare like egg rolls, their menu also incorporates European influences through a partnership with a local French bakery. Croissants and other pastries are available to pair with Kolkata Chai Co.’s signature masala chai, fusing Indian and French flavors. This blend of cultures on their menu reflects the Sanyal brothers’ vision of bringing Indian tradition to America in an approachable yet authentic way.

Kolkata Chai Co. has established itself as a pioneer in the ready-to-drink chai market by reclaiming masala chai’s narrative and sharing it with the diverse communities of New York. Their menu, branding, and ethos celebrate Kolkata’s rich culture while also embracing the multicultural spirit of America. The Sanyal brothers have crafted an oasis where patrons can savor masala chai, reminisce of Kolkata’s allure, and foster cultural connections.

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, the Sanyal brothers have succeeded in bringing the authentic chai experience to New York through Kolkata Chai Co. By partnering with local bakeries and using fresh, traditional ingredients, they've created a menu that fuses South Asian and American flavors. Their beautiful packaging and branding transport customers to the bustling streets of Kolkata. As they look to expand and distribute their signature masala chai blends, the Sanyals have carved out a unique niche honoring their heritage while embracing New York's diverse cafe culture. Their inspiring story shows how food entrepreneurs can share their roots in an inviting way.

Doron Segal
Doron Segal

Hey I'm Doron, the co-founder & CTO of Per Diem — a mobile app platform for restaurants. I'm also a dad and a husband. I love to travel and meet new people.I love creating things, and see people using the stuff I built.Prior to Per Diem I worked at Saildrone, OpenTable, Apple, Beats Music, Siemens.

Tomer Molovinsky
Tomer Molovinsky

A second time founder with a passion for building products at the intersection of hospitality and technology. I've had the pleasure of launching reservation systems, mobile payment solutions, and loyalty programs at OpenTable and Resy, and witnessed how operators were losing a direct connection with their customers online. We built Per Diem to strengthen the relationships that businesses have with those customers, and to ensure that local businesses can thrive in today's economy.

Ashley Rodriguez
Ashley Rodriguez

Ashley is a freelance writer and podcast producer based in Madison, Wisconsin. She hosts a podcast called Boss Barista and writes an accompanying newsletter with full transcripts of each episode and articles about coffee and restaurant work. You can check out her work here (ashleyrodriguez.work/).

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