Ruby / Alamy
Aditi Datta
December 22, 2014

As a Bombay girl, I’m always asked if I now prefer my adopted hometown of New Delhi. I always say I like both—which seems to unsettle some people, as there’s a common perception that preferences should be extreme and loyalties fierce. It’s the same when you ask someone a tea or coffee person; can’t “both” be a legitimate answer?

For me, it certainly is. There are times when only the earthy smell and slightly bitter taste of coffee is enough to spur me into action; and other times when only chai pleases my soul. Which is why I’m really glad that New Delhi doesn’t force me to choose between them. Even though tea gardens are typical in North India and coffee plantations in the outh, both drinks usually come together as one here (as anyone who’s travelled on Indian railways and heard the vendors’ call for “chaaya-copee” can attest). For those who pick coffee, here’s where to find New Delhi’s best.

Café Turtle

This is probably where most of us city-dwellers first heard the word “cappucino.” Supporting the notion that a good book is ideally accompanied by a great cup of coffee, the first Café Turtle was set up as part of Full Circle Bookstore. Now all three locations have their balance of coffee beans and reading material just right. 

United Coffee House

Even though it now operates as a full-service restaurant, United Coffee House stays dedicated to the coffee cause with in-house master blenders who curate special brews. Tastes may have changed since the coffee house opened its doors in 1942, but somehow, it keeps alive the spirit of what it once was: a space where great plans of overthrowing empires and creating promised lands were undoubtedly made. 

Café Lota

Located in the National Crafts Museum, this café is the perfect setting for some thinking or talking over a cup of coffee. The artisanal blends come from plantations in India, like Coorg and Chikmagalur, and suit tastes of all kinds. This is also a great place to try an authentic South Indian filter coffee, poured from cup to saucer and back again. Only in India!

Chez Nini

For a fancier cup, head to this elegant Parisian-style café that nevertheless keeps things proudly local. The coffee served here is made from Blue Tokai beans, grown in the cool climes of the Nilgiri mountains of South India. An Americano served in a cutting chai glass is the best of both worlds.

DePauls Cold Coffee

In the same location since the 1960s, this café serves a classic specialty that’s also stayed unchanged. Cold coffee is perhaps a uniquely Indian thing; iced café lattes don’t even come close. Depaul’s serves this milky coffee in their signature glass bottles; one sip is all you’ll need to be in a better mood. 

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