The COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing lockdown had grounded many careers, and those in the airline industry are among the worst hit.

Amid the gloom, there have been cases of retrenched pilots rising above the challenge to open up businesses, including in the food and beverage industry, to keep surviving.

Among them are Dinesh Nadarajah, 34, and Surren Kanna, 36, who opened their own cold brew business called TakeOff Coffee after being let go from Singapore Airlines and Air Asia x, respectively, at the height of the pandemic late last year.

Free Malaysia Today (FMT) spoke to the duo, who recalled their foray into the coffee business.

According to Dinesh, he had a hunch that he would be let go from Singapore Airlines when COVID-19 cases kept rising in 2020, as foreign workers were the first ones to be cut off during the SARS outbreak previously.

Thus, Dinesh started preparing himself and his family mentally and physically to face the inevitable after 11 years at the airlines.

As he loved a good cup of coffee as much as he did flying, Dinesh approached Surren, whom he has known since their pilot academy days, about starting the coffee business in June last year.

Surren did not consider the idea seriously, until he himself was retrenched in September, reported FMT.

It was then the duo got together to source the beans, and getting vendors to mix, roast, blend and grind the coffee beans. After a lot of trial and errors, and experiments with the right kind of milk for the dairy and non-dairy options, TakeOff Coffee was born.

"We probably had over 60 cups of cold brew we finalised our choice of dairy and non-dairy," Surren recalled to the portal.

To the uninitiated, cold brew coffee is less acidic than its machine-brewed counterpart, as the beans to make the former are soaked overnight for 16 to 20 hours to extract the coffee.

TakeOff Coffee is brewed and packaged at the duo's homes in Bangsar and Shah Alam, and a sampling session at the Publika mall in December last year, the coffee was officially launched on Jan 28 this year.

Today, TakeOff Coffee even caters a variety of the beverage, including the smooth, and the bitter, and for the lactose intolerant or even vegans.

For those concerned about the level of sugar in their coffee, TakeOff Coffee even provides those made out of Gula Apong, a special type of organic sugar made from the Nipah plant from Sarawak.

Customisable cuppas are also available according to the customer's preference.

Dinesh and Surren liken making coffee to flying, saying: "When we safely land our passengers and see the happy smiles on their faces, it makes us feel good. Now as a barista, it brings us the same personal satisfaction when a customer enjoys our coffee."

The duo has sold 550 bottles of cold brew as of Feb 11, and they plan to make the business a long-term venture, even after the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions are eventually lifted.

They are in talks with friends in Sabah and Johor in view of opening up the business there.

If you want to try TakeOff Coffee, or just plain yearning for a cold cup of coffee, head to TakeOff Coffee's Instagram page or Facebook page , or WhatsApp them at 017-7762945.

Source & Photo source: FMT