How Costa Taught Me To Fight Disability

There comes a time in life when you seek inspiration and courage from the universe. Just remember, no matter how grave your personal situation may seem, there's always hope around the corner. You just need to find it, and most importantly, believe that a positive turnaround is possible. 

Today I'm going to share with you a larger-than-life story about Parizad, a barista at Costa Coffee. Well, it's the kind of story that will uplift your spirits and make you believe in the institution called life.

And perhaps, move you to tears as well but in a good way I suppose.

Last Sunday I went to my favorite haunt, Costa Coffee, which is located in the heart of Delhi's most iconic shopping district, South Extension. This visit was extra special coz for the first time since I started frequenting this place, I had a blogger's invite to review the one-and-a-half-year-old cafe.

Naturally, I was over the moon. I even asked Sadhna and the kids to tag along.

The cafe is probably the most beautiful Costa in the capital city. I kid you not. The walls are replete with murals and photo frames. 

If you're a book lover like me, come and choose from a fine collection of 25 to 30 books nicely arranged in three different shelves of a wooden almirah. The inventory is cleared annually to keep things up-to-date.

There is ample space inside the cafe to accommodate a large gathering. Move around and pick your favorite corner without any major hassle.

An elegant gray colored sofa placed in a quaint corner of this cafe drew me in.

The interiors are chic and contemporary with full attention to details.

While clicking a few photographs for my blog, I bumped into the Area Manager, Rakesh Murali from Kerala, who manages operations for all Costas in South Delhi and Jaipur regions.

Soon a conversation ensued between the both of us.

Rakesh Says

  • The cafe was opened to general public in October 2013. 
  • Apart from being the biggest Costa Coffee in Delhi, it is also the most modern. The space is rented* however. (* The rent goes as high as INR 650000 per month.) 
  • The cafe operates every day from 10am to 10pm, but the timings can differ from store to store. For instance, the Costa Coffee outlet in Greater Kailash operates from 8am since customers prefer to visit it in the wee hours of the morning. 
  • Costa has around 60 outlets in Delhi-NCR alone. Business is flourishing even in those localities where other BIG cafes are not doing so well. 
  • You can expect free WiFi inside every cafe. This facility is only available for the first 30 minutes from the time you connect. 
  • All Costas play retro music in background, courtesy BIG FM channel. TVs are generally not deployed to avoid distractions. 
  • The cafe is apt for corporate meetings, kitty parties, birthday bashes, and other social dos. 
  • All Costas focus on two aspects: perfect ambiance and great customer service. Rakesh believes "Customers should feel at ease no matter what!" 
  • This particular store employs three managers and eight team members, excluding housekeeping. Among the three managers, one is a cafe manager (Manish Joshi) and two are his assistant managers.

No cafe would survive the test of time if their coffee didn't taste right. That's a given these days!

The Quirky Parizad

The moment our conversation shifted towards the art of coffee making, Rakesh didn't waste even a single second to introduce me to Parizad, a 20-something female barista at Costa. She demonstrated how perfectly roasted coffee is blended with milk and cream and served in their cafe.

[They call it the legendary Mocha Italia Blend, which is custom-made for Indians.]

While I couldn't refrain from praising the handcrafted coffee Parizad made, it also dawned on me that she wasn't responding to anything I was saying. Rakesh intervened, telling me about her physical condition.

Parizad is unable to hear or speak. But you cannot tell that unless someone specifically mentioned that to you. She oozed so much confidence during the demo and knew exactly what she was doing.

Costa employs one differently abled Customer Service Associate (CSA) in every store. In fact, their Green Park outlet in Delhi is only run by differently abled CSAs, which is fantastic to say the least.

A Life Lesson for All

With a gleam in his eyes, Rakesh informed me that two differently abled CSAs were recently promoted to managerial roles because they were so effing good. Costa provided them on-the-job training on advanced topics like inventories, store reporting, customer handling and service, etc. The training took approximately two months to complete.

What struck me was how proud and accomplished Parizad felt, never considering her "disability" to be an impediment towards achieving true success.

And I'm sure she will do really well in life, setting examples for millions of people around the world.

I went home a better person that day.
Costa Coffee Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato