Restaurant location and start date

Adigemane - Keerthana

Where is the upcoming restaurant going to be and when will it start?
We had announced our intention to start a restaurant long time back. So, the first question most people asked was, where is the location going to be?. Short answer is it is going to be at Kallega, Nehru Nagar, Vivekananda college junction on Puttur – Mangaluru highway. We will start service on Sunday, 15th January 2023 on the auspicious day of Makara Sankranthi. We will run the restaurant where Hotel Keerthana is presently running.

Why this location?
Since we are at Puttur, it should be some where in Puttur town. We don’t like crowded places though there will be many walk-in customers at such places. Reaching the place and parking should not be a challenge. So, we were looking at By-pass road and highways around Puttur town. There were a few options suiting our requirement. Most restaurants just drain the sewage to rainwater drainage streams directly. We are very conscious about treating the sewage well before passing it. This place has a sewage treatment plant. So, we decided on this place.

Why a running restaurant?

  • Running restaurant will have regular existing customers and business. So, business need not start from 0.
  • We tried to sell the land at Kallarpe, but couldn’t. So, we don’t have much funds to buy land, build a building or even to setup the restaurant from scratch from a rented space.
  • It is very risky to start a new business and there will be many trial and errors while establishing one. A running restaurant would have already passed that phase.
  • It already has all the necessary setup to run a restaurant. Only a few repairs, cleaning and enhancements are required.

Overall, the finance requirement and time required to start the service is minimised. We have another short 2 months time before we have to start. We have out tasks cut out.

CategoriesCoconut Oil

Our view of Wood Pressed Oil – High price for an inferior product

Wood Pressed oils are a craze now. It can be seen by the products sold on Amazon, number of such outlets opened in towns because of the massive consumer preference. I don’t say they are wrong. Because they compare it with what they are consuming today i.e. the refined oil. But when they compare wood pressed oil with corresponding expeller pressed crude, filtered oil they are wrong. Health consciousness should rise, but they should also know what is healthy. Not go with what is popularly happening but scientifically reason it. Normally what is priced higher is good but not always. This fad about wood pressed oil is one such exceptional case.

We don’t debate that wood pressed oil is inferior to refined oil. Wood pressed oil is far superior to refined oil, period. But is it the best way to make oil? Answer is NO! Let us analyse this

2 types of machines to extract crude oil from copra

  • Expeller – It is a fully closed arrangement, moisture should be completely removed from copra.
  • Rotary – It is an open conical grinding machine, some moisture must be present in copra for lubrication.

Debate – which is better?

For expeller

  • Moisture causes rancidity in oil. So a better extraction mechanism should mean remove moisture. So expeller oil will have longer shelf life.
  • Expeller squeezes more oil from copra than rotary. So extraction efficiency is better and oil cost will be lower. Oil cake will have lower oil content wasted.
  • Greater quantity of copra can be crushed in expeller by increasing its size and supplying more power. This allows automation of entire process for larger scale.
  • Oil extracted through expeller from dried copra can be filtered online through a filter press. Oil extracted from rotary from moist copra can only be filtered by sedimentation process which will take 7-10 days. So expeller gives faster throughput and requires lesser inventory.
  • Because copra is heated to some extent, the oil smells and tastes better.

For rotary – only argument

  • Copra is not heated, so the properties of coconut is retained.

What are the properties of coconut that would have been lost by heating? Common answer is vitamins. Any coconut oil contains 99.9% fat and 0.1% moisture. That means there is no other nutrient in coconut oil. Forget Vitamins, coconut oil has no carbohydrates, proteins and minerals. It is only fat.

Heating may go upto 80 degrees in expeller and 60 degrees in rotary. At both theses temperatures the fats don’t undergo any change. If heating of food is bad, then why do we cook rice, roast chapathis, pasteurise milk? Shouldn’t we consume them raw?

From rotary, it goes further down to wooden rotary instead of steel rotary.

  • Extent to which oil is squeezed from copra is even lower. So oil yield is lower, labour cost is higher and hence oil cost is much higher.
  • Heat generated is even lower. So there is no value addition of heat
  • Wood absorbs moisture and oil and retains it. This is very bad for food hygiene and safety.
  • When wood press is not used bacteria and fungus develops on the surface

So, we have argued that rotary oil is inferior to expeller oil and further wood pressed oil takes it a step further and is more inferior and more expensive.

Now, in expeller, roasting of copra before oil extraction increases the quality to another level by enhancing flavour, taste, aroma and shelf life.


Announcing our intention to start a restaurant

I intend to start a new vegetarian restaurant from Puttur within a year.

Why new business?

Our existing coconut oil business has matured. We had taken massive loans to start and now we have almost cleared all the debts raised. The product variety and quality is established, distribution network is established, internal team is set up, e-commerce channel is doing well. To grow the business we need to hire more sales staff. Hiring and managing them is a tremendous challenge. As plan A, we will keep trying to grow the sales team. Plan B is to start a new business to grow.

What will be different in this new business?

When I started last business, I was unmarried, in my late 20s. Now I have reached 40, married and have 2 kids. So my risk appetite is much lower. So, the capital invested will be much lower, accordingly debt if at all raised will be much lower.

Selling coconut oil was through retailers. If providing a quality product is the goal of the brand, earning more margins by selling a cheaper product is the goal of the retailer. So retailer acts as a huge barrier between brand and its consumer. So, in this new business I want to reach out directly to the consumers.

What will be common?

Brand Cocoguru and the values it stands for that is pure, hygienic, safe, high quality, technology enabled, professionally managed, innovative, green food products.

Why Restaurant?

I am a foodie, I like eating. Till I reached 30, I only looked at the taste value of food and used to eat chats, Chinese, North Indian, spicy foods. Now my body is not liking them for its unhealthy nature. Restaurants are known commonly for their dirty kitchen and use of cheaper ingredients. So wherever I go, it is always difficult to find a restaurant of my choice. I believe there will be a few people like me whose needs are not met currently.

How will this be different from other restaurants?

There are many hard decisions which will upset many customers by reducing their choices and narrow our offerings significantly reducing the income opportunities.

  • Local – The food items on offer will be only traditional Tulunadu vegetarian dishes. Though much wanted, there will be no Chats, North Indian and Chinese items. An objection here could be “Don’t we anyway make this at home?”. That exactly is the idea, it should be “just like how it is made at home”.
  • Simple – The number of items on offer are only a few. Menu should fit in one page. This way we will be able to best serve the few dishes on offer.
  • Fresh – I don’t like to eat leftover food the next day. So, though it is commercially tough, we will serve only freshly prepared food.
  • Hygienic – Hygiene has been a glaring feature of our coconut oil mill. Since it is about food we take into our body and for calmness of mind, it has to be clean and hygienic. It may come with a cost but I believe people will value it.
  • Healthy – Purpose of going to a restaurant is to satisfy our taste buds. But in the long run, health is more important. So purpose is to provide food that tastes good and is yet healthy.
  • High Quality Ingredients – Restaurants are commercial ventures and customers are very price conscious. So restaurants usually end up making food with low quality ingredients. We have the experience of making and selling premium coconut oil. So, though it is tough we have to make it happen. One key ingredient is the cooking oil, all hotels use only refined and hydrogenated oils as it is cheap and can be reused a few times. We will use only coconut oil and ghee.
  • Technology enabled – I am a fan of technology and very well understand how it makes our lives easier and benefits the customers. The menu presentation, ordering, payment, order fulfilment, marketing will all be technology driven.

When do we plan to start?

The idea was thought about a year ago but execution didn’t take off. There were a lot of uncertainties due to corona virus. Also, I thought of funding the venture by selling off the land I was holding. I wasn’t able to sell it. Now it is time to move on despite the excuses. So, I have set the deadline as June 2023. Plan is to use the next 10 months to learn hotel management, perfect the recipe and taste of the dishes that will be served, work out a thorough business plan and acquire all resources required.

Where will it be located?

With lower risk appetite, lower capital and keeping it more flexible, restaurant will be at a rented place. So it will be somewhere in Puttur town wherever a suitable place is available at the time we start.

What will be the name?

Name thought as of now is Cocoguru Adigemane. Cocoguru to leverage the brand already built. The values of this restaurant will be same as that idea with which coconut oil brand was built. Adigemane to indicate that it is a local, homely, coastal Karnataka food business. 

CategoriesEmployees Management

Salary payment to permanent employees on 1st of every month

Monthly Salary

We have been hiring frequently over the last few months in Sales roles. New joiners would have worked in blue chip companies earlier. Some of their company policies will be very employee friendly. Having an open mind and progressive attitude, Cocoguru management would like to bring in those policies here. Few of the policies suggested were

  • Bring daily allowance or food expense outside the employee Cost To Company (CTC) calculation
  • Make salary payments immediately after the end of the month
  • Bring paid leave value outside the CTC

The first suggestion has already been implemented (Food expenses to be excluded from Employees CTC) couple of months back. The second suggestion is set to be implemented now. The third suggestion is being considered but not decided.

Till now, salary payments used to happen on 7th of next month. The reasons were

  • Employees used to quit immediately after getting their salary and without serving notice period. Having 7 days of salary with the company would reduce such a behaviour
  • Calculation of salary and approvals takes some time, though done through spreadsheets it requires gathering data like attendance, commission and incentives
  • Reduces the company’s working capital requirement to the extent of 1 week’s salary

Now, we are paying salaries immediately to permanent employees because

  • Loyalty they have shown towards the company so far is being valued
  • Company trusts them to behave like responsible employees
  • Help’s employees meet their financial commitments earlier by 1 week
  • Calculations and approvals can be done faster because of more refined and automated calculation process now
  • Company’s improved financial position means it can afford the necessary working capital

However, employees under probation will continue to get their salaries on the 7th.

CategoriesBranding Coconut Oil

Why does Cocoguru coconut oil have a longer shelf life?

I had been to Kalasa, Chikkamagaluru for developing our business there. While I was talking to a famous coffee maker Varamahalakshmi Coffee Works, he asked me how is that your coconut oil last much longer compared to other coconut oils? It was a great opportunity for me to highlight how different and superior Cocoguru coconut oil is compared to other coconut oils. Since he was curious, he listened carefully. Normally retailers don’t care, we rarely get to explain, if at all we get, they hardly listen. These are the factors which I explained

1. Copra making method
Copra is made from coconuts in 2 methods.

Ball copra
Ball copra
Fresh Copra
Fresh copra

a. Fresh copra
Here fresh coconut is cut into two and immediately sun dried to get copra. This method is followed in coastal Karnataka and Kerala during summer and Tamil Nadu. Because of its freshness it would have undergone minimal deterioration.

b. Ball copra
Coconut with shell and husk is kept in attic for a long time to let coconut water in it slowly dry. After 6 months, moisture would have evaporated and kernel inside would become like a ball and separated from the shell. This type of copra popularly called as Tiptur edible ball copra is used for direct consumption. This method is used in Deccan platue regions of Karnataka. Those that are not in regular shape and size is used for oil milling purpose. Since the copra has become old, it would have undergone some deterioration. Milling copra is selected after selecting edible copra.

To make Cocoguru coconut oil only copra made from sun drying of fresh coconuts are used.

2. Copra Segregation
Copra is segregated to select only good quality ones and bad quality ones are separated. Only good quality copra gives good quality oil despite the best of processes further.

3. Copra drying
Moisture causes rancidity in cooking oil. So, moisture is removed by drying copra using hot air before oil extraction.

4. Copra roasting
Copra roasting further removes moisture and sterilises copra.

5. Oil Extraction
Coconut oil is normally extracted from copra in 2 types of machines, rotary and expeller.

Rotary Machines
Rotary machine
Expeller machine

a. Rotary
In rotary machine, copra with 8% moisture is crushed in a rotary machine, oil is then filtered by sedimentation in barrels for 7 days.

b. Expeller
In expeller, copra with 2.5% moisture is crushed in an expeller, oil is then filtered online through filter press.

Cocoguru coconut oil is extracted from dried copra using expeller and filtered through filter press. Popular perception is that oil that is cold pressed/wood pressed/rotary crushed is natural and superior, also it looks white/colourless. It is suitable only for immediate consumption and yet very ineffecient. Oil yield is low, moisture causes rancidity. Roasted coconut oil extracted through expeller is long lasting, safe, aromatic and tasty yet retains natural properties.

6. Fine filtering
Filtering removes solid particles and moisture, when done finely and thoroughly, it improves oil appearance and shelf life. At Cocoguru, coconut oil is double filtered.

7. Tight packaging
Packing is a way to hold, protect, carry and exhibit the oil. When done well, it goes a long way in ensuring shelf life and convenience of use. In our case shelf life increases from 6 months in PET bottles to 12 months in Jerry Cans.

8. Inventory management
We carefully manage stocks at manufacturing, distribution and retailer points to ensure the stocks are fresh and in good condition, so that consumers get fresh stock.

Overall, it is about careful taking care of each aspect of manufacturing and business process, not about chemicals and preservatives. For many manufacturers their scope ends when their products reach the wholesalers, for us it is about consumer experience.