The USPs of Indian coffee are today well known in the global industry. Ms Sunalini Menon, Founder, Coffee Lab India Limited shares her thoughts on the various strands of the Indian coffee industry in this exclusive interview.
What are your views on the global perception of Indian coffee? Where does it stand as compared to the other coffees in the world?
If you go around 30 years back, Indian coffee did not have a good name for itself in the global market but today it has changed drastically. Indian coffee has been able to carve a unique space for itself in the global market today as compared to the other popular coffees in the world. The quality and other fine aspects of Indian coffee are today well known among the global buyer. The buyer is well aware about the nuances of Indian coffee. The ability to provide the right balance to the cup is one of the main factors that work for Indian coffee.
The coffee industry in India was very different in the pre-liberalisation stage when all the planters were selling to create a single pool for the global buyers. However, after the liberalisation in 90s, the coffee industry has grown at a tremendous pace. In that sense, the liberalisation helped the industry a lot in terms of harnessing the growth potential.
What are the unique advantages of Indian coffee?
The biggest advantage that works in favour of Indian coffee is that it can provide the right balance to the cup. The country has the capability to provide different types of coffee to the global buyer. Be it any type of variety under Arabica and Robusta, it is available in the Indian market. The ability to meet the different requirements is one of the primary USPs of Indian coffee industry. As the Indian coffee is grown in shade, it also has an eco-friendly edge that it offers to the global buyer.
What are your views on the domestic market for coffee in India?
The domestic market for coffee has picked up well over the past few years. The rise of the café culture in India has played an important role in increasing the awareness about Indian coffee. With names like Café Coffee Day, Starbucks, Costa, Gloria Jeans et al, the coffee industry in India is growing well. It is important to note here that cafes have taken coffee to the northern region of the country. Earlier coffee was seen as a drink to have when you are sick because of the stimulating factor. Coffee has been accepted by the young generation. Good because India is typically a tea drinking nation. However, even today close to 70% coffee is exported and only 30% is consumed within the country. There is a lot of potential for growth in the Indian market when it comes to increasing the coffee consumption.