The bean to cup story of Araku coffee

The Araku Valley Coffee Museum tells visitors the story of coffee and then serves them a cup or two at its coffee shop where more excitement awaits

A warm aroma of coffee beans and the hiss of the an espresso machine greet me in the heart of Araku Valley. I am at the Araku Valley Coffee Museum, about 130 kilometres from Visakhapatnam. Along with the heady smell of coffee I also take in the journey of this bean to this location. Coffee was introduced to Andhra Pradesh in 1898 by a Britisher N S Brodie during 1898. I also learn that India holds a unique position in world coffee sector being the sixth largest producer of coffee, and that more than 98 % coffee growers in the country are small farmers. Did you know that coffee is grown in the shade, employing environmentally sustainable methods? I do now.

The bean to cup story of Araku coffee

The museum narrates the journey of coffee from seed to cup through colourful murals on walls right at the entrance. Wearing colourful earthy tones of green, red and yellow, the tribal women and their families pluck the deep red coffee cherries. The brightly-hued murals depict how these cherries are then pulped, fermented and dried till it is ready for roasting and grounding. Inside the museum, the soft lights bring alive the dioramas (three-dimensional figures made of fibre and cement) that reflects the long journey of the coffee bean from its discovery in Ethiopia to its popularity across the world and Araku. An audio-visual show gives a glimpse of the lush green slopes of the Araku Valley where coffee is grown under the shade of silver oak trees and pepper creepers.

The bean to cup story of Araku coffee

The museum was set up in 2006, but its journey began in 1954 when a migrant Prakash Raoset up a small coffee shop near the Railway Station to showcase Araku’s Arabica coffee. Today that small shop is a bustling aromatic place attached to a museum and all of it built up over 4,000 square feet.

Since then, the coffee museum has drawn several tourists from across India and abroad who come here to savour its wide range of beverages and chocolates. “The museum and coffee shop unit is a source of livelihood for 70 tribal villagers from the region, who are coffee growers themselves. They are trained in making coffee beverages and coffee chocolates that are sold here,” says Naresh Akella, son of Prakash Rao who along with his two brothers Santosh Kumar and Gopal Rao took over the reigns of managing the museum after their father passed away a few years ago.

  • India is one of the few countries that produce both Arabica and Robusta varieties of coffee.
  • Arabica coffee is the main variety under cultivation in Araku Valley. Pepper is the main inter crop, adding substantially to the net returns of the coffee farms.
  • Arabica coffee is grown in soils that are deep, friable, rich in organic matter, well drained and slightly acidic.
  • They grow well in gentle to moderate slopes in an elevation of 1,000 to 1,5000 metres above sea level.
  • The annual temperatures of the region should range from 15 to 25 degree Celsius.

While the Araku Arabica Coffee is the ever-favourite, there is another menu at the coffee shopfor those who are looking for a more adventurous coffee-tasting. This menu includes the slow brewed craft coffee and other expensive varieties of coffee. Here, one gets to not only learn about the history of the coffee variety, but also get to witness the entire process of making it.

They can sample the Kopi Luwak here. It is the world’s most expensive coffee made from beans digested by a civet cat. The faeces of this cat is collected and processed. According to Naresh, these are procured from certain pockets of Araku.

“Right from roasting to grinding - customers can see the entire process of how the coffee is made before it is served to them.” It is an elaborate process, says Naresh, and a 30 ml shot of the Kopi Luwak costs a whopping Rs 800.

Coffee bean chocolates (Chocolate-covered coffee beans made by coating roasted coffee beans) are a treat too and the flavours include cinnamon, Arabica, cappuccino, bean and berry, ginger, Irish cream, Branco (white chocolate), Espresso, caramel maccahiato, dandakaranya (kiwi, mango, cranberry and pineapple), Mexicano, raspberry ganache and chillies and cherries. “The sweetness of chocolate breaks the bitterness of coffee,” explains Ramesh.

In the recent past, tourist attractions like entertainment zones for children and adults have been added in the museum. Notwithstanding the soaring popularity of the coffee and coffee chocolates of the Araku Valley Coffee Museum, the three brothers have no desire to expand it through retail chains or outlets. “We have been approached by many to set up similar stores elsewhere. But we do not wish to. Our aim is to make Araku synonymous with coffee. And what better way to relish the refreshing Arabica coffee flavour than by driving to this picturesque valley,” says Gopal.

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Printable version | Feb 29, 2020 1:25:08 AM |

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