You know life is just right when you wake up to the wafting aroma of freshly brewed coffee and sip on it against the backdrop of the morning sun. But have you ever wondered where that coffee really came from? What if it’s a one-of-its-kind taste that you will find nowhere else in the world? Welcome to the world of single origin coffee, which is rapidly catching on in the country, especially since it is coffee from home, sweet home.
Abhijit Shetty, managing director, Seven Beans Coffee Company, gives the lowdown on what’s brewing. “Single estates and single origin are often misunderstood. Single origin itself means a country, like India, pointing to a particular place of origin. On the other hand, coffee from single estates is what most companies will push. One of the advantages of single estate, if you can control the growing and processing, is that you get the cream of the crop. Depending on the plantation, the quality will vary based on factors that affect coffee, like soil, temperature, humidity and rainfall. The best part about single estates is you have control over the produce. Otherwise, brokers generally mix coffee from various locations, so there is no way to tell if the quality will be consistent.”
He goes on to point out that India has been exporting coffee for several decades, and it’s high time Indian consumers connect and appreciate our coffee. “Indian coffee markets are opening up. In fact, people have been drinking coffee for decades across the world, without even knowing that it is Indian coffee, since the blender would sell it under his or her name.”
Kunal Ross, who runs The Indian Bean, says single origin coffee allows them access to indigenous flavours and flavour notes that are inherent to that region. “A better understanding of crop, process, type of green bean, etc allows you to then roast and brew accordingly. The scope for speciality coffee is on the rise, largely because you are talking to a conscious consumer, for whom it is important to know where the crop is coming from.” He predicts a slow but steady growth. “A large number of estate coffees are coming to light with a larger range, and more people taking the time to brew at home. If we have spent so much time brewing tea, coffee will also have its place in the Indian household, like in the South.”
Seven Beans Coffee Company
Having four generations of experience in the field, Shetty partners with Dante Cagliari, also a fourth-generation roastmaster from Modena, Italy, and the company puts together several years of expertise into their brew. Their Indian origin coffees are the strong Urja, the delicate Mishta and the balanced Eka. His favourite is the Mishta that makes for a creamy, smooth brew.
The Indian Bean
The Indian Bean, a venture started by Ross, is another company that consciously makes an effort to keep the flavours of the region intact, since most of their varieties are single estate. Among their seven varieties, the ones that stand out are the Malnad Coffee, their signature South Indian filter coffee and the exotic Monkey Bitten coffee, which as the name suggests, has actually been bitten by monkeys and has a sweetness to it. Ross says Watapi is his favourite with a new roast on a drum roaster, and has hints of fruit and citrus.
Tejini Kariappa of Halli Berri took to marketing coffee from her family estate after the success of her mother’s Coffee Barn Café. One of their trademarks is the single origin, pure Arabica grown from their plantation, ideal for a morning drink or cold coffee.
Blue Tokai started with a cause. When Matt Chitharanjan and Namrata Asthana moved from Chennai to Delhi, they found that there was hardly any fresh stock of roasted Arabica in the North. Known for actually crediting their quality to the original coffee farmers, this company specially customises their customers’ preferences. Their signature Kalledeverapura Pulp Sun Dried and Attikan Estate coffee are the ones to look out for.
Black Baza Coffee
Black Baza Coffee, launched as a conservation project, but recently founder Arshiya Bose has also begun selling the coffee to extend support to eco-friendly farming. With total control over the entire production process of their coffee, the company’s USP is environment-friendly coffee for the soil and the soul. Among their six options, are the strong Robusta Black Baza Roast and The Whistling Schoolboy, their version of the filter coffee. Bose says her favourite is The Ficus. Made from coffee beans collected from under the shade of fig trees, which are keystone species in the Western Ghats, the coffee develops a distinct and pleasant flavour.