Neighbourhood cafe // A takeover by Subko Coffee Roasters & Bakehouse

Neighbourhood cafe // A takeover by Subko Coffee Roasters & Bakehouse
Last year, a quiet yet impactful name started popping up on everyone’s ‘gram. Subko Coffee Roasters & Bakehouse. What, where, how? Luckily for us, they’ve opened up a hop, skip, and jump away from our Chimbai studio which is why we popped over for a quick Q & A with Jeff Nelson (@echofloat) and Neha Joshi (@joshilee), part of the team that’s made Subko such a favourite.
From Subko’s innovative bakes to their typography experiments, we heart it all. If you, like us, are interested in the personalities/team behind the brand, this is a must-read.

P.S. They just opened the doors to the Craftery in Byculla! 

Pictured above: Jeff wears the Medium Viper Flat Chain Necklace and Sculptural Odi V Ring.

Introduce yourselves: 
Neha: My name is Neha Joshi. I spent my early twenties dabbling in content writing and teaching school kids, before heading to culinary school and studying French patisserie. I then worked in professional kitchens for two years after which I joined Subko. I love supermarkets, driving aimlessly, eating out, pistachio gelato, Prateek Kuhad songs, swimming in the sea and cooking for myself.

Jeff: Hey this is Jeff Nelson, I’m a Music Producer, DJ, Creative Brand Consultant and occasional Graphic Design dabbler.

What do you do at Subko?
Neha: I’m the Operations Director at Subko. Over a year and a half I’ve transitioned from purely handling bakehouse operations to overseeing operations for the entire brand. I oversee and manage all teams to ensure the business operates smoothly, handle a bunch of admin and backend work, look into growth of the team and the business as a whole, liaise with potential partners, and taste every single thing brewed and baked at Subko.

Jeff: At Subko my main areas of focus are creative direction, partnerships, brand management and design team overview. Occasionally producing music for Subko’s video content along with shooting those outstretched hand photos of the Subko team that some of you may have seen on our stories. We have a really warm and dedicated crew that strives to maximize as much as they can to retain a quality standard that highlights the local and regional in a global context. I’m also looking into reactivating Subculture By Subko a digital/physical platform that curates and focuses on subcontinental musicians, visual artists, craftsmen and craftswomen including other hidden gems that stem from the creative and human-centric space in South Asia. 

Pictured above: Neha wears the Essential Gold Nose Ring and Juana Goddess Circle Ring.

Where did you grow up? What was it like? 
Neha: I grew up in a small town in Goa called Vasco. It’s really small  the kind of place where everyone knows each other. I lived in a joint family with 22 people, all in one house. My childhood years were carefree and filled with a whole lot of fun. I always yearned to leave home though, and live in a big city.

Jeff: I was born in Kerala to a Mallu Dad and a Goan Mom. Yes, lots of rice and lots of seafood from the coast but cut to aam-ras puris soon enough since my dad’s business is based in Gujarat which is where I studied till the 6th standard. After which I spent the rest of my school years between Ooty and Bangalore. This span of hostel life was a huge catalyst in bridging cross cultures as we had an influx of kids from all over the globe, which in return influenced the music I was listening to, the food I was interested in and the extracurricular activities I partook in. These pockets of inspiration fuelled young infectious energy that retained a healthy cross-culture outlook for most students beyond the academic program in their own communities of interest. 

What is the first thing you do when you wake up?
Neha: Snooze my alarm and check my social media notifications (not proud of this one bit).

Jeff: I am consciously trying not to engage with my phone for the first 45-60 mins upon waking up, unless it is important and requires immediate attention of course. Off-late I’ve been trying to dedicate this time to stretch, breathe and open up my body with a walk outdoors coupled with jump-rope activities, during the course of this I seek to prioritize daily work related tasks and missions. 

Pictured above: Jeff wears the Medium Viper Flat Chain Necklace and Sculptural Odi V Ring. 

What are your hobbies?
Neha: I love cooking and baking.

Jeff: Producing music is always a friendly escape. Dj-ing to a crowd ( have really missed doing this given the current scenario.) When none of the above, I try to explore everyday surroundings visually through the artworks I explore. 

What does creativity mean to you?
Neha: It means to piece together ideas and information to create something new, find a solution to a problem, or figure out a more efficient way to do something.

Inspiration that stems from passion Research - Ponder - Between - what already exists and doesn’t exist - Identifying resources/means to execute - final execution. 

Pictured above: Neha wears the Essential Gold Nose Ring, Celestial Record Pendant Necklace 
and Line Bar Ring.

Favourite beverage to drink in the monsoon?
Neha: Hot chocolate or ginger and lemongrass chai. I make the best versions of both.

Jeff:  A hot Subko x Garo Medium Roast pourover for the days and a Gin & Tonic for the night (really can’t rave enough about the current wave of craft gins coming out from the Indian subcontinent). 

What is your wind down routine?
Neha: Ideally it would be making dinner (pasta, maybe?) with a glass of wine, laughter and good company to enjoy it with. Usually it is me binge watching tv shows in bed.

Jeff: On weekdays I try to keep it pretty relaxed post work. By the time I’m done it’s usually dinner time, followed with sometimes futile, and at times productive attempts to make music or design. On my day off I choose between fully winding down to recalibrate for the coming week or meet friends like family. 

Pictured above: Jeff wears the Sculptural Odi V Ring.

What was your experience working with a new business just before lockdown 1.0?
Neha: It was an absolute rollercoaster! The initial days were full of uncertainty. We shut down 72 hours after opening, nobody had heard of us and the entire world shut down overnight. It took a whole lot of belief in what we had set out to do, the unshakable vision of Subko’s founder Rahul, and a permanent ‘hustle’ mindset to set up the brand we have today. We’ve shut down and reopened about 4 times now. If nothing else, the lockdown experience has taught me what resilience and commitment truly looks like.

What inspires you?
Neha: The sea, success stories, and my incredible support system.

Jeff: Creativity and art forms of various kinds. Travel (Haven’t done much of this either in this current scenario). Overcoming challenges by pushing boundaries and comfort zones. Teamwork that makes the dream work.

Pictured above: Neha wears the Celestial Record Pendant Necklace.

What's your favourite thing to do at work/ favourite project you have worked on so far? 
Neha: Is that even a question? Tasting and ideating new baked goods with the team for sure.

Jeff: Beyond the work that I do, the tasting trials have to be one of the favourites. Everything the bakehouse team comes up with is a treat (this is another reason I need to do the morning runs and the jump-rope routine). 

Favourite project has to be the Subko x Moonshine Meadery Collaboration where parts of the process were innately meta for Project ‘Meta Madh’. We sent them green coffee beans to be soaked and aged in honey, they sent it back post the ageing process, we roasted what we received as brew-able coffee beans, used parts of it to develop our own Moonshine aged coffee served on the Japanese style iced chemex pourover, and parts of it was sent back to Moonshine to add the roasted honey infused coffee to their fermented honey. The result was a stellar coffee mead.

To add a spin to this meta mix, we hosted the Moonshine crew at our Subko  in Bandra for a day long honey tasting event deployed in tandem with the release of mustard honey. Enter Subko team going meta yet again by developing an in-house honey mustard using Moonshine's mustard honey and whipped up honey mustard ham and cheese grilled sandwich and a honey infused stuffed croissant topped with honeycomb brittle. Yes, absolutely delicious. The meads are probably all sold out but we have more exciting things lined up with the Moonshine crew. 

Stay tuned on Subko’s page!