There is a nationwide coffee and snack chain in India which started in Kerala called the Indian Coffee House. It was started way back in the last days of the Raj by the India Coffee Board. In the fifties the board started to close down branches and people started to lose their jobs.
The communist leader Ayillyath Kutiari Gopalan Nambiar saw this and helped out the workers by starting The India Coffee Board Workers Co-operative Society.
The upshot of all this in Communist run Kerala is that the coffee house is still around today selling coffee and food at yesterday’s prices and the chain is actually owned by the workers.
A regular coffee costs eight rupees, which today is about nine pence while an omelette would cost you a whole seventeen pence. The most expensive item on the menu is a biriyani which will set the flush of pocket back one pound and fifteen pence.
Apart from the communist, cooperative ethos however, the thing I loved the most was the faded chic of the place, the waiters with their starched white outfits with peacock tail hats, if you are ever in Triandrum pop by the branch by the railway station where the shop is built in a tall tight spiral, it’s like drinking coffee in the approach ramp to a multistorey car park.