MAGAZINE Voices Anand Neelakantan S Vaidhyasubramaniam Shinie Antony Ravi Shankar Dinesh Singh Mata Amritanandamayi Buffet People Wellness Books Food Art & Culture Entertainment NEW DELHI september 17 2023 SUNDAY PAGES 12 The “Specialty coffees must be traceable to the origin, farm region, plot of land and date of harvest. There is a narrow window for defects and a lot of emphasis is placed on the post-harvest processing of coffee cherries.” Brew Code Bharat Singhal, owner, Bili hu Coffees “As specialty coffee lovers who were in search of good coffee in India, we wanted to make it more accessible.” Coffee has not only moved away from its instant, milky-sweet origins, but is also stirring the world of beauty, food, drinks and more. Players leading the roast revolution spill the beans on where it’s set to go from here. Specialty brands are addressing people’s curiosity about roast levels, brewing methods and flavour profiles Matt Chitharanjan, Founder, Blue Tokai Craft coffee concentrates can be used innovatively in number of ways— even as additives to savoury items Skincare products use coffee as the main ingredient because caffeine contains antioxidants that are anti-ageing and exfoliate dead skin “India is a tea-drinking country. We do not envisage that coffee can ever surpass tea, but it has been catching up, especially among the youth.” Anurag and Chaitanya Bhamidipaty, co-founders of Roastea I By Noor Anand Chawla t is a typical Sunday morning in the heart of Lutyens’ Delhi. The well-heeled citizens of the capital descend on the environs of the Sunder Nursery arboretum. They inspect the organic vegetables for sale at the Farmer’s market, indulge in delicious regional meals cooked by migrants from different states, and shop for exclusive fair-trade cotton clothing made by new-age designers. Nothing, however, beats the popularity of the specialty coffee stall, where people patiently wait in line for their freshly brewed cuppa even as out-of-towners stock up on packets of coffee beans to take home for their favourite caffeine kick. “We are being pressured to reintroduce our blended gin with cold brew coffee. We plan to do so in small batches.” Anand Virmani, founder, Nao Spirits & Beverages, known for its homegrown gin, Greater Than Coffee is suddenly everywhere, as its ‘third wave’ descends on India. This is a period defined by a more sophisticated consumer keen to learn about the origins, manufacturing process and method of brewing. It’s a far cry from the ‘first wave’ during the 19th century when coffee first became a saleable commodity It came on . the heels of the ‘second wave’, which was characterised in the US with the commodification by chains like Starbucks in the 1970s, and in India, in the early 2000s, with Barista, Café Coffee Day and more. One needs to only look at the numbers to see the change. According to Reogma, a data analytics platform for small and medium enterprises, India’s coffee retail chain market is projected to grow to $855 million by 2025. This is further corroborated by the findings of India Brand Equity Foundation, an initiative of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry which high, lights that the country became the world’s fifth largest coffee exporter in 2021-22, totalling 6 percent of the global output last financial year. “Gen Z and millennials no longer want to drink instant coffee like the kind sold by Nescafe,” says Ishita Sawant, founder of conscious consumerism e-commerce platform Meolaa. She adds, “ coffee is a As commodity that is consumed many times a day they want to buy a , brand they resonate with.” Meolaa’s research on the e-commerce market for the beverage predicts the segment volume to rise to $52 million by 2027 from $27 million in 2023, at a CAGR of 17.8 percent. It’s not just in exports or consumption through cafés or online, coffee has also caught the imagination of a number of businesses, finding its way into skincare products, food and even alcohol industries. We tap into this latent success story . Variety of Flavours When Matt Chitharanjan and wife Namrata Asthana first moved to Delhi from the US in 2012, they found it difficult to get coffee that was freshly roasted. When they learnt that the high-quality beans produced in India were being exported, and only average to low-grade ones remained for the domestic market, they decided to do something about it, and so was born Blue Tokai in 2013. “ As specialty coffee lovers, we wanted to make it more accessible,” shares Chitharanjan. Initially starting as a roastery located in a home kitchen in Gurugram—facing numerous problems along the way such as the , sealing of their first café before it opened in South Delhi’s Defence Colony— Blue Tokai decided to expand and use its spare space as a café, a concept that became an instant hit as they could offer a sneak-peek into the world of specialty coffee and address people’s curiosity about roast levels, brewing methods and flavour profiles. Consumers were ready for this change. A Delhi High Court lawyer, who requested anonymity , loved the milky-sweet instant coffees that are the signature beverage of the court canteen. He and his buddies would guzzle numerous cups in a day before the pandemic, but things changed during the lockdown. “We had gotten used to that pure sugar kick with just a hint of caffeine. It was only when we had to brew our own at home that we learnt to appreciate good coffee,” he recalls. He is now lobbying to open a specialty coffee outlet in the court premises. “It will be more expensive than the instant versions, but many will happily make the switch.” This, in a nutshell, explains the phenomenal change in the coffee landscape in the recent past. Who can forget the viral Dalgona visuals that took over social media feeds during the pandemic? Driven by this collective obsession, Apoorv Agarwal founded Mumbai-based The Simple Brew, which makes craft coffee concentrates. It first began as an experiment in his kitchen during the lockdown, to offer the taste of brewed coffee with the convenience of instant ones. He credits the rise in appreciation for coffee to social media trends and the greater availability of good quality brew. Turn to page 2
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