Remember “Friends”? This super hit TV series from the nineties became hugely popular owing to its fun characters. We all wanted them to be our friends and enjoy a coffee at their favorite hangout, Central Perk. Most of the people know at least one person who resembles at least one of those six endearing friends. Now I’m sure you’d have a lot of great friends but where do you hang out with them? Powai has four different coffee shops constantly bustling with teenagers and corporates alike. Which one is your Central Perk? Check out this guide to coffee shops in Powai to find out.

1. Cafe Coffee Day aka CCD

Cafe Coffee Day, Powai.Cafe Coffee Day, Hiranandani Gardens, Powai. Copyright Sharell Cook.

This same old regular coffee shop from Karnataka is the largest coffee chain in India and has been there for the longest time. This chain has mushroomed in every corner of the city. In fact, Powai has two of them — one in Hiranandani Gardens (near the Vodafone shop) and one opposite the lake (below Jughead’s aka Fuel). It has everything a typical coffee shop should have and nothing else. Standard coffee, standard food, standard chairs, standard (popular) music, standard prices: overall a standard coffee shop. Nothing in this place grabs my interest. However, I go there once in a while for a change.

At one point of time, Cafe Coffee Day used to be a cheaper alternative to Barista but I doubt if low price is its USP anymore. You may often spot a bunch of geeky IITians there with books before their mid-semester exams.

On the plus side, CCD offers a good range of cold coffees, various ready-made sandwiches and snacks. If you quickly want to grab a coffee and a snack, then this place is apt. You may choose to sit in the air-conditioned interior or open air surroundings, but this place is worth trying.

USP (especially for chocolate lovers): Chocolate Fantasy and Sizzling Brownie Sundae.

2. Aromas

Aromas, Powai.
Aromas, Hiranandani Gardens, Powai. Copyright Sharell Cook.

Great location, good ambience, decent coffee and good food. If I would have opened a coffee shop, this location would be it. Situated at the broad junction opposite D-Mart, Aromas offers the best view of Hiranandani Gardens. This popular coffee chain from Australia presents a huge selection of tea, coffee, and Italian food from bruschetta to pizza. A range of wine and beer makes Aromas a café lounge rather than a coffee shop. Like CCD, Aromas also provides both inside and outside seating, which I find quite comfortable.

The thing I appreciate in Aromas the most would be their breakfast menu. Aromas offer a separate breakfast menu until 11 a.m., which I find quite difficult to get owing to my nocturnal habitat. I once managed to grab their breakfast. Scrambled eggs with thin toast with butter and jam, French toasts and pancakes made a delicious sumptuous breakfast.

Next time you want to catch up with an old friend while watching an IPL match, Aromas is a great option.

USP: Breakfast

3. Gloria Jeans

Gloria Jeans, Powai.
Gloria Jeans, Powai. Copyright Sharell Cook.

Another Australian franchise and the youngest member of the coffee shops in Hiranandani Gardens. I had no idea that coffee was so popular in Australia. This place is usually inhabited by corporate employees working on their laptops, and their presence adds to its urban feel. I would rate this joint as a slightly uppity version of CCD. Good coffee and great snacks make this place a must visit. Located on a happening lane with stores like Crossword and food joints like Dominos, MOD and Subway, Gloria Jeans has a very corporate appeal.

They offer great customer schemes like Gloria Jeans’ card. The card is punched each time you buy a coffee. For 10 coffees, you get the 11th absolutely free. Gloria has no outside seating which quite goes with its urban theme. You may however grab a take-away coffee and enjoy it while sitting on one of those comfortable benches opposite to the shop. The place is recommended especially if you want to have a professional meeting.

Tip: Visit Gloria on Tuesdays and your card will be punched twice for each coffee.

4. Mocha

Mocha, Powai.
Mocha, Powai. Copyright Sharell Cook.

This description of Mocha will be biased. Mocha has been my Central Perk since the time I was studying in IIT. Smoking flavored Sheesha (hookah) in an Arabic setting with house music and sometimes classical rock (Doors and Beatles) in the background can be the most relaxing alternative. Mocha is true to its tagline: Coffee and Conversations. The place has a very comfortable feel and you can spend hours chatting here sipping on your café latte. The furniture and wall color here is unique and adds to its eclectic appeal.

Mocha offers some exotic foods like paninis and wraps along with great tasting omelets, French crepes, Italian pasta and much more. The food is rich and scrumptiously delicious. What’s more, this is the only other coffee shop (besides Aromas) with a range of beer and wine on its menu. The staff is friendly (Ricky, Pandit, Rupesh etc) but what really sets this place apart is its spacious smoking section. Apart from Kasbah, Mocha is also the only Sheesha joint in this locality, and it’s a true heaven for smokers who love hours-long conversations over coffee and cigarettes (any reference to Jim Jarmusch’s movie is purely coincidental). No wonder, Mocha loyalists go past Gloria and Aromas, up to Galleria, and climb a flight of stairs to be at their favorite destination.

The desserts are plenty and heavenly. This place is a favorite among couples, tourists and intellectuals alike, and in my opinion the only place that has the potential to become a Central Perk.

USP: Smoking zone for smokers and everything else for the rest of the people.

5. Bonus: Chai/Coffee stall for insomniacs

It’s 2.00 a.m. and you can’t sleep. You are hungry too. And worse, you’ve ran out of cigarettes. The chai stall near D-Mart provides delicious snacks (Dabheli, Poha etc) with chai/chhas and of course cigarettes. This stall, essentially for call centre employees, used to operate all night. Recently however, I suppose it is open until around 2.00 a.m., and then again from 4.00 a.m. onwards.

Various cycle-wallahs with their extra sweet tea & coffee around Pizza Hut and NTPC are great friends of insomniacs too.

USP: They serve you in the wee hours of morning, what more do you want?

Article written and contributed by Ashutosh Sharma.