Have you ever wondered what it takes to open a café? How much passion, dedication, and hard work goes into creating a cozy and welcoming space where people can enjoy a cup of coffee and a good conversation?
Well, today 7000 Steps wants to share with you an inspiring story of one of our most loyal customers, Café Chowtari, which is situated in the beautiful hill station of Darjeeling.
Café Chowtari is not just any ordinary café. It is a place where every part of the café has a story to tell. From the name to the décor, to the coffee, everything reflects the owner’s vision and journey.
We had the privilege of having a conversation with Mr. Dipen, the owner of the café, about his journey for opening a café and his answer was so interesting that our chat lasted an hour. He shared many motivating stories based on his experiences.
He told us that it all started with a dream that he had repeatedly, where he saw himself having a café. He decided to listen to his intuition and pursue his dream, even though he had no capital, no experience, and no business plan. He began serving coffee to customers from his room and in return customers would donate whatever amount they wanted to.
(His room where he served his first coffee)
He continued doing this for a year and finally collected a certain amount which helped him to pursue his barista training in Nepal.
(A proud owner of barista certification)
After completing his barista training in Nepal, he came back to India and decided to work in different cafés to learn more about the coffee industry. He worked in six different top cafés and gained valuable insights and skills. But he still had no knowledge of business, so he decided to take a business course. After completing his business course, he came back to Darjeeling with a renewed confidence and determination.
Somewhere his passion to explore more and learn about different coffee cultures took him to Thailand and Cambodia where he worked in various cafés as a barista. It was only in Cambodia that he came across a person who was selling coffee on his cycle. He realized that to open a business you need passion more than capital and he knew he had that. He came back to Darjeeling and found a place that he felt connected to. He sold his beloved bike, his bullet 500, and opened a small café there.
(His prized possession that he sold to start his cafe)
Story behind the name of his café:
Only a day before he opened his cafe in September 2022, he was travelling from Siliguri to Darjeeling taking his supplies when he realized that he still had not chosen a name for his cafe. He had some ideas, but none of them felt right. He knew if he were to google, he would get some suggestion, but it wouldn’t connect his heart. So, he closed his eyes and started thinking of a name. The word ‘Chowtari’, which means a resting place in Nepali, made its round in his head and he could connect to it immediately. Here is an explanation from Wikipedia:
The primary aim of a chautari is to provide a brief rest stop to travellers hiking along the trail. However, in a village, they also provide a place for social gatherings after a day of work.
He knew his café would be a place where people could go after a long day of work or just to catch up with friends. A place which would always welcome them with a warm smile and a memorable cup of coffee.
Café concept and environment:
Dipen has a vision to make his café a hub for art and conversation, where local artists can showcase their talent and customers can appreciate their work.
Dipen has decorated his café with paintings and photographs and a scenic painting of the majestic Kanchenjunga Mountain. He also has a shelf where he sells local food items made by women from Darjeeling, as a way to support and promote the local community and culture.
Café Chowtari and 7000 Steps Relationship:
After hearing his story, you know Dipen is very passionate about his dream. 7000 Steps is glad to be a part of his dream. He said he used many coffee brands before becoming our customer. He was referred by another café and he decided to try our beans as it is from Northeast India.
I am sure he was sceptical at first to hear about coffee from Northeast but after he tried our sample, he is now one of our loyal customers. 7000 Steps has completed a year of relationship with Café Chowtari.
Dipen said he is obviously happy with the quality of our coffee which is why he is still ordering from us, but he also said it is our service which he really values. He added that this is also the first time he was connecting directly with a coffee supplier where his requests and feedbacks are being heard.
He has his regular customers who loves the coffee served by him. Dipen shared with joy that one of his customers told him that he serves the best coffee in Darjeeling. We have seen him grow - from serving coffee in Mokapot and French press to now owning an espresso machine.
Dipen and 7000 Steps have a strong relationship that goes beyond a business transaction. They share a common vision of celebrating and empowering the local art, produce and their stories. 7000 Steps is named after the number of steps it takes, down slopes, to reach the remotest coffee farms in the hilly regions of Meghalaya, to procure coffee beans, and provide a sustainable livelihood to the farmers and their families. Dipen says he is inspired by the story of these coffee growers and their commitment to quality and service.
He just celebrates our story just like how we celebrate his inspiring story. If you ever get a chance to visit Darjeeling, don’t miss the opportunity to visit Café Chowtari and meet Dipen. You will surely be greeted with a warm smile and a memorable cup of India’s remotest coffee.