GVQ Time Cafe in Kalamassery, Kochi, is the kind of place that makes you wonder how much more beautiful the pretty white-and-sage green café that sits at the top of a shady slope could get when it rains. We are sitting on the glass-roofed patio under a canopy of trees like the rest of GVQ. “It is beautiful!” Aathira Mohan assures me. This is her and her business partner, Allen K Kurian’s pandemic project.
The concept of a time café is a first for Kochi. It derives from the anti-café movement, which started in Europe. Customers pay for the time they spend in these cafes also called pay-per-minute cafés. So, at GVQ, you pay ₹150 for the first hour and pay ₹1 per minute for the time you spend there with free, unlimited beverages and snacks — black or green tea, black coffee, chilled black coffee, cookies and crepe — thrown in. There are no clocks or timers to keep track of the time a customer spends there. The clock starts ticking when they order/choose their unlimited beverage.
The menu comprises sandwiches, omelettes, short eats — French fries, potato wedges and chicken nuggets, while the beverages are iced teas and cold coffee. Chocolate cookies and chocolate brownies make the dessert menu. The most expensive item on the menu is for ₹199.
The duo has not gone overboard with the menu since the focus is on the space. “We wanted to keep it simple,” Aathira says of the menu. What truly sets GVQ apart is that one can take their own food, or order it online and have it delivered. No questions asked. “We will even plate it, warm it and serve it for you. This works for the calorie-watchers who would want to drop in at a café but maybe not eat there since they may be on a diet,” she adds.
This is Aathira’s dream café, or “the integration of the best parts of a café in one.” The café is the result of several months of research, all of the time was spent in cafés around the city. She even tried to work in one in order to understand how a café works. This idea was born when one of her friends made a random, wishful comment.
“He said how nice it would be if there was a café where they could just hang out without the pressure of having to order or to leave if they didn’t want more food.” And that was the lightbulb moment. The Economics graduate who runs a media production company designed the café.
GVQ (jeevikku, which means to live) has been three years in the making from concept to now. It is hard to believe that the location was, as Aathira describes it, a ‘dump yard’. What sets the café apart is the ample space around it as well. There is a herb or vegetable garden, the saplings planted in a neat circle. The produce from here will be used in the kitchen. The property has several trees, none of which was cut to make space for the café, Aathira reveals.
Some would consider Kalamaserry, a suburb, an unconventional choice to open a café given its distance from the heart of the city. “Things are changing, there is a lot happening on this side of town too. Plus Kalamaserry is well-connected, since the Metro station is also close by.”