History of Indian Coffee
The history of Indian coffee dates back to around 1600 AD with the planting of Seven Seeds of Mocha by legendary saint Baba Budan in the courtyard of his hermitage in Chikmagalur, Karnataka. The coffee plants remained a garden curiosity before they gradually spread as backyard plantings, and later on to the hills of what is now known as Baba Budan Hills.
- Commercial coffee plantations were started during the 18th century by British entrepreneurs in the hostile forest terrains of south India.
- Since then, the Indian coffee industry has grown rapidly and also earned a distinct identity in the coffee map of the world.
- Indian coffee contributes significantly towards the socio-economic development of remote hilly areas while sustaining the unique environmental biodiversity of the region.
- Indian coffees are popular globally – both due to their subtle flavour and stimulating intensity.
India is the only country in the world where all coffees are grown under a ‘well-defined two-tier shade canopy of evergreen leguminous trees'. India's coffee growing regions are one of the 25 biodiversity hotspots in the world and have no parallel anywhere in the world.
India is today home to 13 unique coffee varieties sourced from 13 distinct coffee growing regions – most of them in the southern part of the country. Indian coffees are well suited for cappuccinos and espressos alike.
Types of Indian Coffee
Being the sixth-largest producer of coffee in the world, approximately 409,600 hectares are under coffee cultivation in India. The country produces both the Arabica as well as the Robusta varieties of coffee.
India's coffee production grew to 3,27,000 MT in 2014-15, from:
- 315,500 MT in 2012-13
- 314,000 MT in 2011-12
Indian coffee growers have continued to adopt the traditional shade-grown approach to coffee growing.
There is significant potential for organic coffee in India for a number of reasons. The soils where Indian coffee is grown are extremely fertile. Besides this, the forests provide a perfect habitat for birds and other enemies of pests and disease. Out of around 2,57,762 coffee growers in India, around 99 per cent are small growers. Traditional practices of manual weeding, composting and use of cattle manure are still widely prevalent among them. The orientation of India's coffee farmers is to minimise chemical use and ensure optimal plant health.
Some of the finest bean varieties grown in India are Arabica and Robustas coffee:
Kents Coffee Bean: This is the earliest variety of Arabica coffee that was grown in India, named after L. P. Kent, a British planter from the Doddengudda estate in Mysore who first selected the plant. Kents coffee bean is known for its cup quality, and was grown widely till the 1940s as it had a high resistance to rust. Today, its cultivation is restricted to a few regions.
S.795 Coffee Bean:
This coffee bean was launched during the 1940s and has been the most successful among all Arabicas coffee from India so far. It was developed from Kents Arabica coffee and is popular due to its high yield, bold beans, superior quality and resistance to leaf rust. It produces a balanced cup of coffee with subtle flavour notes of Mocca coffee.
This coffee is a descendant of a hybrid of Caturra and Hybrido-de-Timor and is also known as Catimor. A natural mutant of the Bourbon variety, Cauvery coffee possesses both the high yield and high quality attributes of Caturra and the resistance of Hybrido-de-Timor.
This variety of coffee is a derivative of a cross between Tafarikela and Hybrido-de-Timor, and has all the exceptional qualities that are displayed by Tafarikela in the cup. Sln.9 coffee has also won the Fine Cup Award for Best Arabica coffee at the 'Flavour of India – Cupping Competition 2002'.
This variety of coffee is the most widely used coffee across the major Robusta coffee growing regions, and is a selection that was made from the high yielding old Robusta coffee collection brought to India from Sri Lanka. The bushes of this coffee plant are strong and can be adapted across regions. The beans of S.274 coffee are bold, round and greyish in colour after wet processing.
CxR coffee is a cross-breed between Coffea congenisis and Robusta coffee. The bushes of this coffee plant are more compact, with smaller and narrower leaves compared to conventional Robusta coffee plants. Beans of this variety of coffee are bold in size, with soft and neutral features in the cup, which sets them apart from conventional Robustas coffee.