The Story of Vui
Growing up in Chennai, life revolved around basketball and the urban outdoors. P.S. Senior School was tough, and often felt like a cage, yet the place set the academic bar so high that everything that followed felt easier.
When I started four years of mechanical engineering at Hindustan College in Chennai, time was plentiful, and academic pressure non-existent, and I began exploring India. Soon I was catching a train out at any opportunity and grew comfortable in any situation in return for experiencing something new.
After a brief and unsuccessful stint as an engineer, I went to IIM Indore for an MBA. There I was trained in the methods of modern management, which was later put to use for a global commodity giant named Olam.
Working in the coffee industry in Vietnam, the towns of Pleiku and Dalat in the Central Highlands were home for seven years. There I learned languages, diversified the diet, and had time and space to explore. At work, I was managing the trade of green coffee beans – bought from agents, graded and sold to coffee roasters across the world. I could observe how the value was shared from the farm to the consumer. Living in small towns in Vietnam also gave me fresh eyes to observe social life, and to learn new ways of thinking.
In 2015 I moved back to India, looking to start a small farm. During the search for land, I met Vishal of Tat Tvam Asi Organica, and found alignment in values: natural farming, focus on quality, and cooperation. Thus Vui Coffee began in July 2018, as an experiment in social and economic relations and good coffee.
Divya of Beachville Coffee Roasters, Chennai, taught me roasting, and afforded a few hundred hours of independent experience. This gave confidence at a vulnerable time, and I am grateful to Divya for her kindness and support. In 2020 we installed a Probat roasting machine in Mysore.
Cooperate, do not compete.
No marketing gimmicks.
Work be intelligent and joyous.
People of Vui
In 2021, Manjula joined the coffee business. Over the years she has experienced a variety of work and workplaces, including a stint at a coffee farm in Coorg. She has been a rock of relentless support, and the first person to join me in every aspect of work.
Later in the same year, Varsha brought her boundless creativity into Vui, and a wave of fresh ideas. She loves working with her hands, and finds inspiration everywhere. She recently launched @versaurus, exploring bespoke Art-Fashion-Illustration.
In early 2023, Dharuni joined our team. She plays the flute, Carnatic style, and also excels at Art and Calligraphy. She puts her Calligraphy talents to excellent use on the packs. She assists in roasting, and has a great palate to evaluate our coffees. Varsha and Dharuni do all our art work.
Collectively, joyfully we do everything. This joy inspires conviction in the path chosen.
With a little help from my friends
- Rick from Tennessee. Taught me the value of time, labour, freedom and empathy.
- Paul Olivier in Dalat. His ideas on waste transformation inspired me to start out.
- Jasvinder. For teaching tenacity and Hindi, and the push to start Vui.
- Maitreyi, for the book Labour and Monopoly Capital that is our guiding light.
- The people of Navadarshanam, for the lessons in natural farming.
“Success has many fathers, failure is an orphan.” – John Kennedy, after failure of Bay of Pigs. The Barista sets the water temperature, and measures out the coffees. The...