From Chaiwala to Chai King!

In year of 2020, the 27-year-old Mechanical Engineering graduate from Uniten did not sit on his laurels when he had difficulties finding a job after graduating in February last year - no thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kavie has permanently parked his trusty bicycle as an exhibit in his first café and now manages five roadside stalls located across the city. Moreover, a second café is already in the works.

Clearly, Tea Thambi Café is his pride and joy. Located on the ever-congested Jalan Tun Perak, the little tea house occupies a strategic spot, close to the Masjid Jamek LRT station, where foot traffic is heavy.

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And if your eyes miss the place, your nose won’t. The aromas of sweet tea and hot snacks will do the trick. Of course, there is his famous masala chai, kept hot in metal flasks, alongside new additions to the menu, such as ginger tea and BRU coffee.

During his cycling days, Kavie used to sell bread and biscuits as snacks to go along with his tea. He has since upgraded to making his own snacks, with vadai, curry puffs, and kuih ketayap among the offerings. These sell like hot cakes. Indeed, is there a better way to enjoy a hot cup of masala tea than with a hot curry puff?

Kavie now has Tea Thambi stalls in Bangsar, Masjid India, Brickfields, and Bukit Bintang. Additionally, he has enough name recognition to receive catering requests from event managers. However, he told FMT Lifestyle that his proudest achievement was the establishment of the café on Jalan Tun Perak, which began serving its first customers last year.

“We chose the location because of the crowds passing through the area,” he said. “There are many offices in the café’s vicinity, and it’s just a great place for people to stop by for tea or coffee.” Securing such a prime spot came with a hefty price tag, but hard work and careful planning have made it all possible. In fact, another Tea Thambi Café is under construction in the Masjid India area.

He is justly proud of how far he has come, but he said he was even prouder of the people responsible for his success, namely his customers. “It’s because of them that we have got this far. I am really thankful to all of them for their support.”

Given how busy he is these days, how does he ensure that the tea at all his stalls and the café is of the same great quality? “We have a centralised kitchen,” he said. “From there, I make sure everything’s perfect before releasing the tea for sale.”

As for whether he would be willing to share his recipe, Kavie laughed and said the correct mix of cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, and cloves is the secret to good masala chai. With another café on the way, you might one day see a Tea Thambi Café in your very own neighbourhood.

From humble beginnings to a successful business empire, this young entrepreneur has shown that anything is possible with passion and grit.

Such an inspiring youth indeed! At a time when youths his age are either whining about not getting their "dream job", or utilize the extra time in their hands to get involved in scams or crimes, Kavievanan decided to take charge of his future by setting aside ego, and capitalizing on his love for masala tea.

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Source / Image Credit : FMT