Narayana Bhat retires

Group photo with Narayan Bhat

Mr. Narayana Bhat was working with us as a Production Supervisor and has retired from service on 31st August 2023. This is an event worth writing about as it comes with mixed emotions, pride and voidness.

He joined Cocoguru almost 10 years back on February 2014. He was referred by Keshava Ram’s classmate Shivashankar Shastry, his brother-in-law. He travels 40 kms everyday from Kanyana to work. He worked in various departments like Stores, Logistics, Purchase, Oil Extraction, Canteen, Campus etc. His notable contributions have been

  • Developing and maintaining a beautiful green campus by planting 150 trees and conserving water
  • Major changes in company logistics, selling old vehicles
  • Implementing commission/piece work based payments to labours
  • Getting work done efficiently from people yet having fun doing them
  • Organising events like Independence Day, birthday celebrations, Ayudha Pooje and Deepavali
  • Maintaining cordial relations with land neighbours and Karpadi temple management
  • He helped maintain a very jovial and productive work environment all through out.

He will be 57 years old in about 15 days. His son completed Mechanical Engineering from Nitte and got placed at a private firm at Bengaluru. He announced his decision to retire during his last birthday celebration on 23rd September 2022, and he was waiting for his son Ashlesha to start working. He likes to improve and expand present arecanut farm, build his dream house as the old house is not in good condition. And ultimately lead a happy and peaceful life in village with his dear wife Mrs. Uma and pet animals.

Company is proud to have an employee work with them for almost 10 years and leave them only for an unavoidable reason like retirement. Many people leave for better prospects or when they are not happy working there. But it is difficult to replace him with someone who can do all the jobs with a can do attitude. It is an aspect of nature, and we need to move on.

Narayan Bhat retires 01

We had organised a small event on closing hours of 31st August to honour him and celebrate his contributions for us. Many employees who worked closely with him spoke eulogies of him. Murali (Operations Head) is his direct boss, Keshava Ram (Managing Director), Naresh Kumar (Sales Manager), Shiva Kumar (Finance Manager), Suprabha (Brand Manager), Karthik Rai (Financial Accountant), Shreekrishna Shastry (Public Relations Officer), Jagganath (Expeller Operator) and Shivashankar Bhat (Chairman) all spoke for a couple of minutes with their heartfelt messages and wished well for his retired life. Narayana Bhat likes to be jovial with ladies, and they were all emotional when they realised that he will not be working with them from next day. He was honoured with his wife Mrs. Uma by Shivashankar Bhat. He also spoke briefly with usual humour and ended with a small Kannada poem. A cupboard was given to him as a complement as he is building a new house. Event ended with dinner supplied from Cocoguru Adigemane. People whom he was leading were looking up to him to guide him for work even after his working hours.

All of us at Cocoguru, like to thank him for his contributions to us and wish him a happy retired life with his family.


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.