Passion in a cup

April 19, 2013 , by Supriya Rai, 1 Comment
Passion in a cup » My Dreams Mag
With his expanding coffee business that strictly focuses on local coffee, Narayan Khakurel aspires to brew a fresh coffee culture dynamic in Nepal. 


Over a cup of cappucino, Narayan Khakurel, the proprietor of Coffee Talk, a vibrant coffee corner in Hattisar, animatedly discusses the changing coffee-scape of Nepal. His positivity and enthusiasm is at once contagious and uplifting. As he delves deeper into the technical aspects of coffee-production with earnestness, there is no doubt that here is a man who not only loves coffee but also takes it very seriously.

Born in Kavrepalanchowk, Khakurel moved to Kathmandu early on for his studies. He remembers having an affinity for food ever since a young age and unsurprisingly chose the Food & Beverage Management area to further his career. Study and work took him to foreign lands like Dubai, the United States and Singapore.

Working in organised structures and systems, as is prevalent abroad, helped him gain valuable insights into the operations and pitfalls of the industry. He states, “I realised that F&B is all about people management, and that “the more you share, the more you gain.”

This is something he put into practice – Khakurel  opened Phoenix Institute, an F&B training institute in Baneshwor, in 2006. The 34-year-old shares that he also ventured into running an organic restaurant. However, true success came with Coffee Talk.

Khakurel’s regular stints abroad and avid travelling gave him a first hand opportunity to learn about the coffee culture overseas. What the young entrepreneur learned and experienced changed the course of his life.

“The ambience, people, aroma of freshly brewed coffee, the lifestyle, made a lasting impression on me,”he states cheerfully.

It was precisely his appreciation for the coffee culture that persuaded him to replicate a similar experience in Nepal.

Six years and a lot of hardwork and perseverance later, his dream became a reality with the opening of the first branch of Coffee Talk in Marco Polo Hotel in April, 2011.

It took around five months for the coffee connoisseur to put together the ingredients of his dream venture. Arguably the most crucial aspect was the sourcing of coffee beans.

Nepal’s coffee production industry which had seen halting growth has gone from strength to strength over the last decade. The highlands Arabica which is considered to have qualities similar to the Colombian and Blue Mountain coffee, is today grown in over 22 districts commercially. Nepal’s annual production is close to Rs. 160 million, with over half of the production being consumed within the country.according to the National Tea and Coffee Development BoardThe savvy businessman thus decided that it was this bounty that he wanted to exploit.

Today Coffee Talk only serves organic Arabica from Palpa, and the man has had no regrets over choosing to go local. The competition is tough, he admits, as several foreign brands have a strong grip on the market. Yet, he points out that the authentic taste of a Himalayan coffee cannot be beaten. Plus Khakurel finds it deeply gratifying that with every cup of coffee he is selling, he is lending a helping hand in the growth of a promising agro-enterprise in the country. 

The mission statement over the counter at his coffee joint sums up his thoughts: “In every sip of coffee, you will find taste of highland coffee beans from various parts of Nepal, and when you are drinking a single cup of coffee you are putting a smiles to many small farmers”.

Almost nostalgically the coffee guru recalls of times when the only types of coffee people in Nepal used to be aware of were “milk and black coffee.” He sounds quite proud that the concept has changed –  people walk through his doors and order cappuccinos, Americanos and lattes. Establishments like Coffee Talk that has championed in the coffee movement coupled with today’s generation of cosmopolitan urbanites have played a huge role in realising such change.

Coffee Talk, which is celebrating its second anniversary in the coming week, has expanded to three other locales – Maharajgunj, Jawalakhel and Dillibazar. Khakurel believes a clever mix of quality, affordability, great ambience plus regular promotions helped him acquire this speed. Schemes like its Loyalty Card where every 11th cup of coffee is free, wi-fi services, coffee meet with popular celebrities and workshops make it a favoured haunt with regulars, he points out. 

The young entrepreneur believes that there is huge potential in Nepalese organic coffee and that the next two decades could see an unprecedented rise in demand of local products provided there is proper organisation, expertise, technical knowledge, skilled manpower and policies. Currently the entire industry is heavily reliant on foreign machinery and experts, he says.

He quickly points out the inadequacies: there are very few technicians who can fix broken coffee makers. This means often coffee shops have to wait weeks for one to get around to look into the problem. The actual repair takes even longer as the wait for parts stretches out.

It is easy to see that Khakurel’s’s observations are spot on and his concerns genuine. At a personal front, he is rerouting a portion of his proceeds from the shop to fund Coffee Talk Magazine, a complimentary, monthly issue that focuses on educating readers about coffee. He believes that it is as important for his customers to possess the knowledge to discern a good cuppa as it is for him to serve it. In the coming months he hopes to expand on this customer base and play a prominent role on what he calls the “Coffee Revolution” of Nepal.

“I believe that coffee moments can make lasting impressions, memorable throughout our lives” says the passionate coffee-lover.



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One comment on “Passion in a cup

  1. nara.coffeetalk@gmail.com says:

    Dear DREAMS Magazine team,

    Thank you for your great support to promote Nepali Coffee culture throughout the world.

    Narayan & Coffee Talk Nepal team

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