Best specialist coffee brands in India
Founded in 2001, this is a brand owned by the Araku Valley farmers’ cooperative, and promoted by Infosys co-founder Kris Gopalakrishnan and Mahindra group chairman and managing director Anand Mahindra, among others. Local tribal farmers have been trained to grow top-quality shade-grown organic coffee beans in the Araku Valley in Andhra Pradesh. The journey to convert Adivasi farmers into gourmet coffee growers was enabled by on-ground non-governmental organizations like the Naandi Foundation as well as international coffee experts. Araku coffee has also received a geographical indication (GI) tag. It opened its first retail store in Paris in 2017.
Lounge pick: The Araku Micro Climat is made with the best beans from one village in the Araku Valley. A full-bodied fruity flavour with a hint of bitterness makes for a great cup.
Marc Tormo Altimira moved to Auroville, Puducherry, from Catalonia, Spain, in 1997. While travelling through the Western Ghats, he realized that India produced some high-quality shade-grown coffee beans, most of it for the export markets. Once he convinced plantations to part with A-grade beans for the domestic market, he started Marc’s Coffees. Following the concept of “seed to cup”, the brand offers a host of single-estate and speciality coffees, with signature blends. They’re available online (Marcscoffees.com) as well as at his café in Auroville. The Coffee Board of India has divided the coffee-producing regions in south India into 13 categories, each with its particular traits—Altimira’s aim is to offer at least one single-estate coffee from each region.
Lounge pick: The Julien Peak from a farm in Tamil Nadu’s Shevaroy Hills is a fully washed, 100% Arabica coffee which is high on acidity, with beautiful floral notes.
At their lab, located in Delhi’s Mandi Village, two coffee enthusiasts, Sadhavi Ashwani and Mrinal Sharma, try and push the flavour profiles of single-estate coffees. “We brew coffee with the spices that grow alongside it in a particular plantation,” says Ashwani. The Cantatas—a specially designed coffee platter with cold-brew coffee—is the result of this experimentation. It’s available at their first café, which opened at Vivanta by Taj—Ambassador in October. Following a trip to Coorg in 2013, the two college friends decided to convert their coffee obsession into an artisanal brand. After undergoing extensive training with the coffee board, they launched Baba’s Beans. Their custom-made blends are available online (Babasbeans.com) and at their café.
Lounge pick: The Cold Brewed Coffee is brewed for over 16 hours. Available in a 500ml bottle, it is a refreshing, nuanced and aromatic concoction.