Barista was one of the first coffee bars to open in India and has turned out to be quite a success story. The first Barista was opened at Basant Lok in an upbeat locality of Vasant Vihar in New Delhi. Since its opening, Barista story has seen many shades of success and also a fair share of controversies.
Barista was brain-child of Amit Judge, who has the sobriquet- ‘serial entrepreneur’ attached with his name.Amit is a politically connected personality as he is nephew of Late IK Gujaral, Former PM of India and husband of late Nandita Jain- related to Jain family which owns Times Group. Judge’s sister is also married to Vineet Jain, MD Times Group who is Late Nandita Jain’s brother. Amit Judge is quite a persuasive hard-selling businessman as he also owns an Art gallery-Bodhi Art (now left almost closed everywhere that it used to be), quite famous for poaching artists by luring them with small but expensive token gifts.
A story which he often recalls is from his early days when he launched Stencil Apparels. He signals how he is a man of possibilities as in order to sell this apparel brand, he first convinced the stockists to keep the shirts on trial basis and sent fake customers to give them wrong idea of the apparel’s demand. Amit was not alone in his Barista expedition as Jayant Kochar was also with him. Together the duo had also introduced India to leisure clothing by licensing ‘Lacoste’ to sell the brand in India. Lacoste has been another book altogether when it comes to success story of Barista.
He also has a reputation of exiting the business as soon as it is about to crumble. Thus Barista found itself in an ugly controversy when Tata Coffee sought to acquire it and board of directors declared that Amit Judge, the founder himself is persona non grata.
During its heydays Barista had Ravi Deol, then National distribution manager of Coca-Cola join Amit Judge to do a Starbucks in India! Barista indeed had the first mover advantage in the Cofee Café business which was just blooming in India when it lost it to Café Coffee Day instead. One of the problems facing Barista and thus contributing as a hindrance to its success story is a lack of stable ownership as it has changed many hands.C Sivasankaran, Aircel-fame has also been its owner once. Now Barista is owned by Italian company, Lavazza which bought it in 2007 and has integrated the look and feel of the two brands into one ‘Barista Lavazza’.It is now at more than 30 locations in India and also abroad-UAE, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Oman. This is still dismal as compared to Café Coffee Day which has more than 1016 outlets in India alone.