As poet R.M. Engelhardt once wrote, “A smoke, a book, a cup of coffee. These are the little things that get us through this sometimes weary world and all the rainy days.” The book café, which is a modern concept, is a combination of two traditional places—a bookstore and a café shop. People may either read any book from the literary collection that is available in the cafes or carry their own, along with some sanguine music and the food and beverages of their choice. Whether you want to immerse yourself in your favourite book, work alone in serenity or need a place to unwind with your friends; a book cafe will cater to all your needs. Here’s a list of must visit book cafes in India.
1. Literati, Goa
Set in a picturesque 100-year-old Portuguese-styled bungalow in a quiet corner of Calangute, Literati Bookshop & Cafe is a safe haven for bibliophiles. One may sit back and leaf through the walls stacked with piles of books, as they sip some strong Karnataka coffee and nibble on homemade sandwiches. There are wooden shelves everywhere you look, shelved with books from new arrivals, bestsellers, fiction, non-fiction, so if you are looking to discover new texts, you know where to go. Dine al fresco with delicious Italian fare on the pretty verandah, while indulging in your favourite novels here.
2. The Coffee Cup, Hyderabad
With beautiful Sheesham (also known as Indian rosewood) interiors and a charming terrace decked with potted greenery, the Coffee Cup is an excellent neighbourhood cafe and creative hub that’s a magnet for east Hyderabad’s arty crew. A rustic yet cozy vibe is achieved in a very unconventional format here. Quirky knick-knacks, board games and retro posters of cartoon characters and movie stars add to the overall snazzy vibe of this appealing book cafe.
3.Pagdandi Chai Cafe, Pune
Pagdandi the sanctum for book lovers in Pune. It is a tiny book cafe which is undoubtedly one of Baner’s most popular spots. One may cuddle up with a book and a warm cuppa chai, go here on a first date, or just enjoy their menu of super-sized specialty burgers. Besides selling brand-new books, they also have a community library of second-hand books that you can ‘borrow’ or buy from them. There are plenty of events that happen at Pagdandi Cafe throughout the week, from book launches to poetry readings, open mic nights, writing workshops, and even acoustic singer-songwriter gigs here and there. Don’t forget to try out the awesome frozen yoghurt! Visit their website.
4. Cafe Story, Kolkata
Kolkata’s first graphic novel- and comic-themed cafe, Cafe Story has access to over 3000 titles as a light read over coffee and is a destination where people meet to write, read, tell and even paint stories. People can browse through the massive collection of books of all genres and choose from an interesting spread of pastas, salads, falafels and risottos and more along with flavoured sodas, steaming and chilled tea and coffee, as they down for a good read. The Art Street and Pen & Ink sections provide exquisite art material and unique writing instruments like writing pads and pens; sketch pads and pencils are also available and one may find easels with brushes and colours too and they can even buy a canvas to paint on. It is undoubtedly a booklover’s paradise.
5. Kitab Khana, Mumbai
Known as one of the most beautiful bookshops in India, Kitab Khana often draws attention to an “old-world charm” with its colonial-style structure with high ceilings and Corinthian columns. The store is spread over two floors and has an in-house cafe which provides healthy and wholesome meals like fresh salads and sandwiches, piping hot pasta, delightful desserts and of course a warm cup of coffee! Every book one finds on the shelf is hand-picked and well-curated as their team believes in lending a personal touch to the visitors’ book-discovering experience. If you’re a connoisseur of regional literature, Kitab Khana’s vast range of Hindi, Gujarati, and Marathi books is bound to take you by surprise.
6. Illiterati, McLeodganj
Cafe Illiterati is a place of peace and serenity. They have outdoor seating where it’s just you and the Dhauladhar mountain range. Due to the cafe being at the edge of a cliff, you feel like the only person in the world. That kind of peace is worth more than anything money can buy. Their books cover a wide range of hard-to-find topics including homeopathy, contemporary politics, and art. Chicken Schnitzel and Mint Iced Tea are recommended to anyone who walks in this establishment but along with the pancakes, pizzas and hummus plates are also extremely popular and for good reason. Grab a book, order your favourites and lose track of time as you soak in the sublime beauty of Cafe Illiterati!
7. Cafe Bookworm, Lucknow
Aptly named, Cafe Bookworm is a place for bibliophiles to hang out and spend their time in the company of books far from the madding crowd. With the tagline of “Reading with a sip”, it brings together good food, great books and laughter to create a fun recreational place for visitors to hang out in Lucknow. Cafe Bookworm is extremely appealing to the youth and other artists who like to come here and read to their heart’s content as there is never a dearth of great food or words: which is what keeps the city of Lucknow going.
8. Café Turtle, Delhi
Café Turtle, Delhi’s most charming café, set up to compliment the Full Circle Book Stores, offers a plethora of books and gastronomical delights guaranteed to make you feel torn between wanting to eat and shop. The whiff of freshly brewed coffee, signature blue and green decor, and the abundance of texts to choose from makes it a lively place for everyone to visit. People of all ages exchange ideas over wholesome global cuisine and ‘just be’ in a friendly and aesthetic environment with friends and family, enjoying nature’s bounty to the fullest. Their date cake with toffee sauce is highly recommended!
9. Atta Galatta, Bangalore
Atta Galata is a thoughtfully crafted cultural space that encourages all kinds of creative pursuits, from writing to painting to music. Bookshelves line the walls, twisting into columns of brick. The fresh aroma of baked goods wafts through the air, mingling with the scent of the patiently waiting books. A treasure trove of books in regional languages and their English translations, this cafe is buzzling with creativity. A multitude of eclectic workshops, vibrant performances, book launches, group readings, film screenings and so much more are hosted here. The simple menu of burgers, sandwiches, samosas, cutlets, (pure South Indian) coffee, tea and juice, ties the place in a neat bow.
10. Books N Brew, Chandigarh
A concept cafe with a cozy and inviting atmosphere, laid-back decor, free WiFi and a pocket-friendly menu, Books N Brew is the favourite place for young adults to hang out. It is often known as the blend of brew, biryani and books and offers multi-cuisine right from a wide range of sandwiches, garlic bread, freshly baked pizzas, several variants of the popular Maggie, enchiladas and an impressive range of Chinese starters and main course. Their wide array of board games are often a hit among groups and bring much joy. Books N Brew has a huge art wall where they showcase works of budding artists and photographers. You can also bring in your laptops or IPads at Books n Brew to finish your assignments, notes or projects. There is an adequately sized selection of books available to read but visitors are also encouraged to carry their own books along.
11. Cafe Fiction, Gangtok
For a bookworm and a foodie, Cafe Fiction is the place to head. This place lets you get immersed in the world of your favourite fictional characters, as you dig into delicious food at the same time. You are sure to lose the track of time when here. The soothing jazz music playing in the background makes you stay for more than the desired time. The wood-panelled interiors with the many interesting ephemera that are displayed across the store – old black-and-white photos of the hills, posters, postcards, retro pop-colour television set and cameras make for a wonderful ambience.
The menu is not fixed but changes – so you get anything from momos and steaming bowls of noodles to pasta and pies, or sandwiches, freshly-baked cakes, brownies, waffles, and cheesecakes. They also sell some interesting local products. If you have a tea or coffee addict in your family or friends circle, be sure to pick some packets up here. They also make handmade diaries, notepads, coasters, and stickers, perfect gifts for stationery addicts. Also lookout for the quirky tees, mugs and diaries by local design brand, Sikkimis.
12. Amethyst Cafe, Chennai
Cobbled pathways, sprawling verandah and prim gardens are what make Amethyst a sanctum of tranquility in the midst of bustling Chennai. Wild Garden, the cafe inside Amethyst, Royapettah, is the kind of a place that will keep you coming back for more. It also has a boutique called Upstairs, a flower shop called Bloom, and a display hall, The Folly. The café has a great menu serving some of the most delicious continental and Italian cuisines and desserts. For a relaxed evening with your favourite novel and a stroll in the antiquarian bookstore and an amazing meal, Amethyst Cafe is definitely a must-visit!
13. Kunzum Travel Cafe, Delhi
The finest of book cafes, Kunzum Travel Cafe will leave you in awe and wonder as you flip through the tons of travel books, admire the travel photography, exchange travel stories and connect with fellow travellers over a cup of coffee. Every nook and cranny of this coffee shop cum art gallery will incite some serious wanderlust. Relax with a book, chill with friends or simply probe around as you plan your next trip. The unique thing about Kunzum Travel Cafe is that patrons can pay whatever they want for their beverages, which include a variety of teas and coffees and usually come with a fair share of delicious cookies.
14. Moon River Cafe, Delhi
Housed inside a courtyard within India’s premier design concept store, Moon River is a delightful little cafe. The name takes after the mellifluous theme song from Breakfast at Tiffany’s and is known to be for all those bookworms who want a classy yet comfortable space to curl up with a book on a lazy afternoon. They promote themselves as “In an increasingly caffeinated world, come and check out a friendly newcomer off the beaten track” which stands true. Moon River Cafe serves divine coffee, scrumptious cupcakes and delicious double-chocolate chip cookies on their select but tasteful menu.
15. Cha Bar, Oxford Bookstore in all major cities
Cha Bar is the first of its kind urban contemporary space that created a rage in Kolkata in 2000, in the 90 years old iconic Oxford Bookstore in city centre Park Street. The concept was expanded pan India integrated into Oxford Bookstores as patrons loved the experience of being able to browse at leisure, leafing through the books of their choice, over a cup of tea from the wide selection available at the Cha Bar or simply unwinding with friends sipping the rejuvenating beverage, iced or piping hot! The Moroccan Mint Tea, South African Rooibos, Japanese Macha or the Masala Chai are just some of the inviting choices for customers.