Building upon tradition, a young group of coffeeA�connoisseurs teach us to appreciate the complexity of theA�coffee their parents grew and the importance of termsA�like artisanal, sustainable, local and natural.
COFFEE is cool, and Indian coffee is cooler still.A�Thata��s the message a brave new breed of youngA�cof fee growers are taking to the world.
Youngsters with a family background in coffee,A�they are taking their products to the nextA�level a�� incorporating quality produce withA�sustainable agriculture and state-of-theartA�production techniques and marketing.A�To them, the customer is king a�� and they are pleased toA�customise their coffees, reach out to educate and growA�their customer base. Their final desired outcome is toA�make Indian coffee a thing of beauty at home and abroad.A�Meet some of the players.
Riverside Coffee, Coorg
“A plantera��sA�approach is usuallyA�to just maximise yield,A�but I am experimentingA�to control the endA�quality. I want to addA�value to Coorg coffee;Ia��m in it for theA�long run”
It was while Rishwin Devaya was workingA�for a wine company that he realised heA�wanted to return to his roots to create aA�brand of world-class coffee fromA�Riverside, his own 80-acre coffee estate inA�Siddapur, Coorg, along the Cauvery river. As heA�watched his employers go through the process of cultivatingA�grapes, producing and selling wines, he realisedA�he could do the same. a�?My family has been growing coffeeA�in Coorg since 1898, but wea��ve always sold the beans toA�large-scale producers. In fact as I thought about it, I realisedA�that very few coffee drinkers truly understandA�much about their preferred types of coffee (Arabica,A�Robusta) or different types of roasts.a�? He quit his job andA�started processing the 60 tonnes of coffee grown in hisA�estate. a�?I started sending out samples on a small scale toA�restaurants in Bangalore last year. I want my own strongA�brand, and to focus on customising coffee, so differentA�restaurants get their own individual blends.a�?A�Devayaa��s single origin coffee is UTZ and WoodA�certified, and has been launched in custom-A�designed tins in three variants a�� aA�100 per cent Arabica, a 50/50 Arabica/A�Robusta and the popular filter coffeeA�blend which incorporates chicory.A�a�?From April onwards, my coffee willA�be available on my website, besidesA�gourmet stores. For my next phase IA�plan to offer blends and grinds accordingA�to customer requests a�� the ultimateA�customised coffee. What I love about coffee isA�that each person has his own way of enjoying it. IA�want people to understand how simple it is to makeA�a really good cup.a�?A�Devaya recently launched Riverside Coffee with a tastingA�event at Red Fork, where he demonstrated differentA�coffee-drinking styles for guests, a kind of show-and-tellA�on coffee. This covered the entire production process,A�from picking the ripe a�?cherrya��, to the pulping and washingA�stage, to getting the a�?parchmenta��, followed by hullingA�and polishing to get the green bean and finally gradingA�(AA, A, B or peaberry, while BBB a�� blacks, browns andA�bits a�� are usually sold in bulk to make instant coffee.) a�?AA�plantera��s approach is usually to just maximise yield, butA�Ia��m experimenting to control the end quality. I want toA�add value to Coorg coffee; Ia��m in it for the long run.a�?www.riversidecoffee.in
“We sold our coffeeA�in handwrittenA�aluminium foil packetsA�to start with. Then theA�name was suggested byA�my sister and my motherA�liked it, saying, a�?WeA�should be proudlyA�Coorg.”
Tejini Kariappaa��s idea of creating herA�coffee brand Halli Berri happenedA�because a�?we were giving away too muchA�free coffee,a�? she says. Her family-runA�coffee enterprise is based in Chikmagalur and isA�headed by her mother and herself a�� Indiaa��s firstA�all-women run coffee business. Her estate, Kambihalli,A�in the foothills of Chikmagalura��s BababudanA�hills, has been in the family for generations,A�with Kariappa also running a PR fi rm, Estrada,A�in Mumbai. Halli means village in Kannada, andA�when juxtaposed with a�?berrya�� makes the nameA�sound ethnic, meaning a�?the village berry.a��A�Halli Berri grew almost organically, as visitorsA�at the estate cafA� run by her mother started askingA�for fresh-ground coffee powder to buy and takeA�home. Kariappa explains, a�?We sold our coffee inA�handwritten aluminium foil packets to start with.A�Then the name was suggested by my sister and myA�mother liked it. a�?We should be proudly Coorg,a�� sheA�said.a�? So Halli Berri was born and now remains aA�frontrunner in Indiaa��s single-origin coffee story.A�Today Kariappa sells a single variant full-bodiedA�100 per cent Arabica coffee made from premiumA�graded beans under the Halli Berri brand. SheA�prices it affordably, a�?in fact not much more thanA�instant coffee,a�? she points out. The brand isA�Rainforest Alliance certified, one of theA�highest certifications worldwide. SheA�also runs a CSR initiative, a�?Be BerriA�Consciousa�� tied in with her coffeeA�business a�� it is mandatory for all herA�workers to send their children toA�school, and families are given freeA�meals. Halli Berri also supportsA�wildlife initiatives a�� tiger conservationA�and 296 species of migratoryA�birds in the estate. a�?I want this to be aA�legacy for my children and their children,a�?A�she says. The estate also offers aresponsible luxurya�� homestay experience.A�Juggling two different lifestyles has beenA�tough, more so given the innumerable subsidies,A�certification and licences a business needs for survival.But Kariappa finds the journey a�?interestinga��A�Indian coffee must get its due recognition.A�And the youth in India should realise that IndianA�coffee is cool. This (coffee) has really been my lifeA�from the start a�� so you could say Ia��m trying to startA�a revolution.a�?A�halliberri.com
Seven Beans Coffee Company, Chikmagalur
“India is the sixthA�largest coffeeA�producer in the world,A�but two-thirds of ourA�coffee is exported toA�Europe, where the beansA�are roasted and sold; noA�one knows thata��sA�Indian coffee”
Civil engineers by profession, the ShettyA�brothers, joint managing directors at SevenA�Beans Coffee Company, realised early on thatA�their heart lay in producing the best coffeesA�sourced from their five estates in Chikmagalur (theirA�premium estate Woddaegudda is 450 acres andA�Rainforest Alliance certified). a�?We grew up spendingA�summers on the estate a�� here coffee was grown butA�sold to coffee houses to process and sell,a�? says Advith,A�who handles sales. They decided to leverage theirA�engineering skills to develop their business, raisingA�the bar through research and export. a�?India is the msixth largest coffee producer in the world, but twothirdsA�of our coffee is exported to Europe, where theA�beans are roasted and sold under different internationalA�brand names. There, they command exorbitantA�prices, except no one knows thata��sA�Indian coffee,a�? says Abhijit, who looksA�after production and operations, addingA�that they wanted to create a globally recognisedA�brand.A�They incorporated Seven BeansA�Coffee in 2013, a complete bean-to-cupenterprise, and started the search for aA�global partner. They zeroed in on DrA�Dante Cagliari, a noted Italian masterA�roaster, and the association recognisesA�Seven Beans for a unique USP in the custom-A�made single estate coffee market. Seven BeansA�pre-blends and then roasts their coffee at their own customised Chikmagalur roastery, grinding andA�packaging both whole coffee beans, powder and capsules. They have begun exporting three variantsA�under their own brand names a�� Mishta (70/30A�Arabica/Robusta), Urja (60/40), and Eka (50/50) a��A�and the packaging is deliberately very Indian. TheyA�also import signature Italian blends by Cagliari. Abhijit explains the historical growth of coffee,A�a�?The early 1900s saw the patenting of technology forinstant coffee. It was followed by consumers, especiallyA�those in the US, seeking better quality and askingA�about origin; terms like a�?fair tradea�� becameA�important. The most recent trend saw the term a�?artisanalA�coffeea�� coined. Artisanal producers controlA�every step of coffee production, from bean to cup.a�?A�Seven Beans started production in 2015 and nowA�sells its custom coffees to corporate offices and restaurants,A�as well as online and in gourmet stores.A�They offer end to end services, including renting andA�sale of imported Italian coffee machines. Aiming toA�bring the perfect cup to consumers, they offer baristaA�training, from grinding coffee to frothing milk.A�a�?Indian consumers learn quick, want quality andA�are aspirational, therefore they are aware of artisanalA�Indian coffee,a�? adds Abhijit. sevenbeans.co
Indian single estate coffee is an ideaA�whose time has come. The growthA�of Indiaa��s coffee story has been generational.A�Earlier generations sawA�coffee as a commodity, pooled toA�sell so there was no individual identity.A�For todaya��s new generation,A�whom I call a�?marketpreneursa��, marketingA�is important. They are moreA�passionate in their approach. Ita��sA�not about production alone now a��A�there are value adds, customisedA�blends, quality packaging, nicheA�brands with back stories happeningA�along with the additional benefit ofA�e-commerce.A�This is excellent. However, theA�new generation must be aware of aA�few factors. They must not ape theA�biggies a�� the Tata Coffees orA�Unilevers a�� but focus on the a�?smallA�is beautifula�� dictum. They must alsoA�concentrate on physical distributionA�of their product, not only theA�virtual via e-commerce. And theyA�need to focus on quality, not getA�overwhelmed by only branding.A�Finally, customisation dividesA�markets into choice segments: doA�this with scale in mind, dona��t createA�nano-niches which are unsustainableA�by themselves. This is the wayA�ahead to lift Indian coffee to worldA�recognition.
a�� Harish BijoorA�
coffee expert & brand consultant
Meet the others
SpecialisedA�coffee brandsA�like FlyingA�Squirrel (flyingsquirrel.in)A�and Blue TokaiA�(bluetokaicoffee.A�com) haveA�been makingA�their presenceA�felt among coffeelovers inA�India with customisedA�coffeeA�straight fromA�estates inA�ChikmagalurA�and Coorg, soldA�online and instore.OtherA�players includeA�the Indian BeanA�Company (theindianbean.A�com) andA�Bengalurua��sA�Estatecraft coffeeA�(estatecraft.in).
By Ruma Singh.