There are some places which come as cute and welcoming, some formal and intimidating. And weren’t we glad that Potboiler fell into the first category. We had dived into the coffee shop after being caught in a sudden sharp shower. High ceiling supported by old-fashioned columns, daylight pouring in from the wide windows, fairy lights, simple but comfortable seating arrangements, and we were instantly struck by its inviting ambience.
As we were shown to our seats, we discovered there was more to the coffee shop than coffee. There were shelves and shelves of books around us, framed photographs of well-known authors and wall decoration sporting quotes from famous books. We could pick up any book (it was quite an eclectic collection) and read it while we sipped and munched, we were informed by the service staff.
As we scanned the menu and tried to figure out what to order, up walked a young girl to help us choose. Patiently she walked us through the varieties of coffee, about the journey of the beans from the farm to the cup, how it is roasted and brewed. Much later into the conversation we realised we were talking to the owner Sonali Lakhotia, who also happens to be a certified barista. And it is her love for books and coffee which forms the heart and soul of Potboiler. Even the brews and the food on the menu have been tweaked to give a literary turn.
“I am an avid reader who loves cafe hopping,” Lakhotia would say later. “I always wanted to create a safe, escapist space where each and everyone felt like they belong to. A place they could step into to keep their worries away.”
“Every corner, every poster has a personal story or experience behind it. But what truly inspired me to open Potboiler was the drive to open a space I could call my own. So, I decided to open it as the first step to me being an F&B entrepreneur,” said she.
Incidentally, Potboiler showcases three to four coffee bean options from different roasters for a wholesome experience.
It being a relatively uncrowded afternoon, we learned about where and how the coffee is grown, how it is roasted and brewed, and what impacts the final cup. How one should be careful about the brewing method, the water temperature, the size of the ground coffee beans and their storage, and the water-coffee ratio.
“We use different cup sizes, as the amount of milk and foam going with the espresso should be different for a cappuccino, latte and flat white. To achieve consistency, dialling the espresso two to three times a day is what we do to set a recipe for the espresso that everyone follows,” said Lakhotia.
And it is not only the coffee. While the beverage menu has been designed with some coffee experimentation, the food menu too has been revamped to suit a wide range of palate.
One of the new hot brews which have already become popular is Theory of Flat White, a creamy caramel-vanilla warm delight with rich notes. Among the cold brews, you may try The Sun Also Rises, a punchy mix of ale-like coffee concoction with mildly sweet apple flavour. Orange Palace is another winner with its citrusy notes, which Lakhotia proudly assured us we would not find in other city cafés.
The food menu has been designed with the Gen-Z in mind, who prefer healthy, low calorie dishes. You could try their Cucumber and Mint Salad, Creamy Mushroom and Coriander Pesto Bruschetta or the very filling Grilled Chicken with Coffee and Sriracha Rub served with coffee salted caramel sauce. We started with the Bruschetta and followed it up with a yummy bowl of Maggi Khowsuey. The Grilled Chicken was good too but personally, having it with coffee salted caramel sauce, did not quite appeal to me; however, die-hard coffee fans (which I am not) may find it interesting.
The rain had stopped and we remembered we had unfinished work. But that could not stop us from trying the Reminiscence Cheesecake with a Parle-G biscuit base, and the caramel coating will surely remind you of one of the childhood favourite toffees.
Finally, it was time to say goodbye and get going. But we are surely going back for the Breakfast of Hobbits, a full English breakfast platter inspired by the feasting habits of Hobbits from JRR Tolkien’s classics.
Information: Potboiler coffee shop has relocated to a new address post pandemic lockdown. They are now at P-468, Lake Terrace Road, Keyatala, Kolkata – 700029. Timing: 10am to 8pm.
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