“The what? What did you say was the name of the coffee shop?” I asked with some amount of disbelief.
“The Stolen Coffee Room,” Deepa repeated patiently, with barely suppressed excitement. “You heard it right the first time.”
“The. Stolen. Coffee. Room.” I repeated slowly. “What an intriguing name.”
“It’s an intriguing name for an intriguing place,” ” Deepa declared. “You know Sudha, I didn’t want to leave this place at all and if the kids hadn’t been there with me, I probably wouldn’t have. You will love this place.”
Now I was more than intrigued. “Tell me more about this place.”
“I’m not going to tell you anything. You have to visit it and see it and experience it yourself. In fact, let’s go there together,” said Deepa.
So that’s how I came to be standing outside The Stolen Coffee Room (TSCR) with Deepa one rainy evening in July. The bright blue entrance glowed in a welcoming manner as did the neon red “Open” sign. And with a mix of anticipation and delight, I stepped inside.
I stepped inside into another world, another place. A place that can best be described as someplace else. A place from another time and era. And a place that delighted the senses.
The seductive aroma of fresh coffee and grilled sandwiches, the warm and mellow lighting, the quaint furniture, the comfortable seating arrangement designed to make you relax, the retro decor, the quirky framed poster art on the walls, the bric-à-brac, the laughter and happy murmurs of happy and satisfied patrons, the soft and unobtrusive music to match the atmosphere… And that bookshelf filled with books just waiting to be picked up and read.
We spent a lovely evening at TSCR that day laughing, chatting, relaxing, pulling out books from the bookshelf, discussing them (I even made a list of books that I wanted to read after seeing some of them), wandering around the café admiring the posters and other artifacts… We also had a deliciously filling mushroom and 3-cheese grilled sandwich, philadelphia cheesecake, and some hot coffee that was just perfect. I don’t think there would have been two happier or contented people that day, and when we left TSCR at 9 pm, it was with a great deal of reluctance, and a promise to return soon.
Over the next few days, the thought of writing a post on TSCR took root as I wanted to share this wonderful place with everyone. I wrote a couple of drafts, but both were such lifeless and incomplete reads, that I discarded them without regret.
And when I came across their Wednesday Soirees d’art to celebrate art through “music, poetry or wit” on TSCR’s Facebook Page, I knew that I had to visit the place again soon. That’s when the idea of speaking to the owner of TSCR to get more information on the idea and philosophy behind this place took shape.
So a couple of Fridays back saw Deepa and me at TSCR again. This time it was also to meet Sonam Sisaudia, the proprietor. I can’t tell you how strange it felt to visit a place with the purpose of gathering information for a blog post, since I do not travel or visit a place with the specific intention of writing about it. But somehow doing just that for TSCR felt perfectly right.
Once again, it was a lovely, relaxing evening, in spite of having my blogging cap on and questions whirring in my head. There were students doing their assignments, a couple having a cup of coffee, and a group of young boys discussing carrom. And over some grilled tomato and mozzarella sandwich, coffee and Philadelphia cheesecake (yes again), Sonam spoke to Deepa and me about TSCR.
The Stolen Coffee Room was conceived as a non-commercial, homely, quaint, neighbourhood café — a place that its patrons could relax and lounge in, and have unlimited conversations. The story behind its intriguing name was finally revealed when Sonam said that it signified the ambiance stolen from another era or period. Ravi Vazirani of Ravi Vazirani Design Studio designed and executed the TSCR’s theme. And like good designs it evolved as the place took shape. A lot of effort has gone into conveying and reiterating and conveying that theme—from the furniture that was sourced from flea markets or custom-made to the specially chosen music to the artwork on the walls to the deliberately mismatched furniture to… Many of the books and various objets d’art have come from Sonam’s personal collection. Not surprisingly, TSCR is used by photographers as a setting for photo shoots of aspiring models.
Initially conceived as a place that would serve only coffee, the TSCR added sandwiches and dessert to their menu based on customer feedback. The menu is also an evolving and a changing one with Sonam now planning to introduce a range of teas and infusions to cater to the many tea lovers that frequent TSCR.
The Wednesday Soirees d’art are open events where people can share their poetry, music or read from their books. Sonam told us with pride that TSCR was always full on the soiree days with many people having to make do with standing space only. Encouraged by the response, she has plans to increase and diversify the events at TSCR.
Listening to the soft-spoken Sonam talk about TSCR was very inspiring for me. Her quiet passion and determination for her dream to take shape and succeed was really something else. After a point, I just stopped asking questions and let her talk, and indeed that was the best way for the conversation to happen.
The Stolen Coffee Room is like a breath of fresh air in Navi Mumbai, with the potential to become a niche cultural hub, a meeting place for artists, musicians and poets.
It is the place you want to go for a lazy Sunday brunch.
It is the place you want to drop in for coffee after a dinner and a drive.
It is the place to drop in for a bite on your way to or from Pune.
It is the place to hide away and work on your next creative idea.
It is a place where you can watch the world go by.
It is a place where you can read interesting books in absolute peace.
It is a place for coffee and conversations.
It is a coffee house with a difference.
The Stolen Coffee Room is a somewhere else place. It’s elsewhere, and yet here.
About The Stolen Coffee Room
Address: Off Palm Beach Road, Sec 44-A, Seawoods, Navi Mumbai.
Landmark: Turn left at the Ramchandra Mahadev Tandel Chowk (if driving from Mumbai)
Nearest Railway Station: Seawoods Darave (Harbour Line)
Telephone: 022 2771 3132
Timings: 10.30 to 22.30 Monday to Sunday