Filter Coffee Like You’ve Never Had Before: An Interview with Harish Mithra

Harish Mithra, a mechanical engineer by profession, was in the automobile industry before entering the hospitality industry. He partnered with True South, an instant coffee decoction brand in Mysuru established in July 2013. Founded by Harold Pereira, TrueSouth is among the first brands to launch this kind of product. TrueSouth locally produces –  grows, roasts, grinds, processes, packages – and sells the coffee decoction. It is then carefully roasted and processed in the plant to ensure excellence, consistency, and convenience. It strives to make filter coffee filterless by using the finest high-altitude Arabicas and Robustas from Coorg. Expert roasters judiciously prepare the beans, and cutting-edge machinery transforms the beans into a decoction, making it the perfect treat for coffee lovers!

In Conversation With Harish Mithra of True South

In an exclusive conversation with The Restaurant Times, Harish Mithra talks of his journey in the industry, the story behind True South, the growing coffee culture in India, and a lot more.

Growing Coffee Culture In India

India is home to over 16 unique coffee varietals. India is the only country that grows the whole of its coffee crops in the shade. 

According to Mithra, coffee is a dynamic product. The tremendous role played by cafes like Cafe Coffee Day has transformed the way how India looks at ‘coffee’. Mithra praises the late VG Siddhartha, the founder of Cafe Coffee Day, who was a visionary and the coffee chain has undoubtedly emerged as one of the leading “Made in India” brands today. These cafes emerged as a perfect place between home and work where people would spend their time as a community in the cities.

Mithra says that about 80% of coffee available in India is exported. This is slowly changing though, as coffee culture continues to evolve in the country. 

At True South, the quality is as famous as the flavor of the coffee. From picking and roasting beans to brewing and packaging decoction, each step is held to standards beyond the ordinary.  The decoction has a remarkable shelf life of 8 months and no added colors and preservatives are used which makes True South ideal for filter coffee lovers everywhere!

Operational Challenges While Running The Business

  • Educating Customers About The New Line Of Coffee: Mithra says that initially, the biggest challenge for them was to educate the customers about this new form of coffee. Customers were accustomed to normal powder and beans while having coffee. At True South, they use the method of decoction to prepare filter coffee. A decoction is a process obtained by adding boiling water to roast and ground coffee in a traditional filter. It becomes important to educate customers about True South coffee’s uniqueness. Curious customers, however, want context; they want to know about the product as it exists in the real world. True South aims to differentiate itself in the market by emphasizing the quality of its coffee.
  • Taking Care Of Customer Demands While Penetrating Into The Market: According to Mithra, customers nowadays are well aware of what they want. Today’s customer is better informed, harder to please and less inclined to be loyal to a particular product. They will be acutely aware of just how many other suppliers they can acquire a similar product from. Connecting with this type of customer is putting pressure on businesses to perform better, to market themselves properly, and to ensure they are meeting customer’s spoken and unspoken needs. 

Three Strategic Learnings To Thrive In The Restaurant Industry

  • Importance Of Location: According to Mithra, choosing the location for your restaurant is one of just a few keys to profitability. It is also responsible for the viability of a restaurant business. Being accessible will ensure that you can attract the masses of people that you need to sustain your business.
  • Good Employee Relationship: Mithra says that a founder of a growing restaurant business often feels the pressure to provide for her employees, overseeing internal disputes, ensuring promised benefits and providing advice. It is essential to have open communication and treat employees like family members.
  • No Compromise On Quality: Mithra believes in offering the best quality to the consumers in order to thrive in the restaurant business. True South makes coffee from single-origin beans and it is packaged to retain freshness. Their carefully selected blend offers quality decoction that caters even to the most astute of filter coffee lovers.

Checklist For Restaurant Expansion

  • Using The Right Restaurant Management Technology: Both hardware and software are equally important for the successful management of a restaurant while expanding. The benefits of investing in restaurant technology can’t be understated as customers have come to expect that every part of their lives is improved by technology. True South has been using POSist at their outlets. Restaurant POS has a synergistic effect on all aspects of restaurant operations including employee management, kitchen management, and customer service. Mithra says that the numerous types of reports and data available through POSist, help them to figure the item-wise sales and make strategic decisions based on such sales reports. Reports regarding stock-in and stock-out help to compare variance at the end of the day. Actions are taken on the basis of reports and data which help in encouraging customer visits. POSist has helped them reduce their wastage and it is under 5% now.
  • Staying Up-to-date With The Kitchen Equipment Maintenance: At True South, they use highly specialized types of equipment to process the coffee and provide the consumers with the best quality in the market. According to Mithra, while expanding it is necessary to take care of such types of equipment, to check whether the equipment is up-to-date, so that consistency is maintained throughout. To get the most out of your tools, keeping them in shape is essential. It helps in lower utility costs and prevents breakdowns. 

Success Metrics To Be Prosperous In The Restaurant Business

Having proper restaurant success metrics is crucial. According to Mithra, customer retention and brand image is a vital parameter for success. Every customer entering your restaurant expects a certain kind of service, food, and decor. As a restaurateur, one needs to ensure that there is no disappointment here. From the time they enter your restaurant to the time they leave, it is the duty of the staff to look for hints and gestures from them to understand their needs, without them having to say it out loud. At True South, they have customers who have been coming for a long time, which has helped staff remember the customer’s preferences. The ones who come often will continue coming for a lifetime if you make them feel valued. This goes a very long way in making your customers feel important and retaining them!

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