Brewing a national coffee culture: Delhi to host coffee fest

December 26th, 2011 - 1:55 pm ICT by IANS  

Bangalore, Dec 26 (IANS) As changing lifestyles fuel a coffee culture beyond southern India, a three-day festival will be held for the first time in Delhi next month to boost consumption of the aromatic beverage in the north. The event will pack in workshops on espresso-making and even cooking with coffee.

The fourth edition of the India International Coffee Festival (IICF 2012) from Jan 18-20 will showcase flavours of the green bean and educate non-traditional drinkers to make the brew a regular habit.

“Unlike tea, which is a national drink, coffee consumption has been largely confined to southern states. With the emergence of a burgeoning middle class and retail chains, coffee drinking has been catching up in several cities across the country,” Coffee Board chairman Jawaid Akhtar told IANS.

“Expansion of retail outlets by Cafe Coffee Day, Barista, Costa Coffee and Coffee World in metros and cities popularised the beverage among youth, working class and non-traditional drinkers,” Akhtar said.

With the number of cafes mushrooming to a whopping 4,000 from 100 a decade ago, what was once a energy-giving drink with a stainless steel filter in south Indian kitchens, now has exotic menus in myriad avatars.

The event is being organised by the India Coffee Trust and promoted by the state-run Coffee Board of the union commerce ministry.

The first three editions of the fest were held in Bangalore, the traditional coffee capital of the country. Over 80 percent of the coffee produced in the three southern states of Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu is exported annually.

Domestic consumption, which remained stagnant at 70,000 tonnes per annum till 2003, gradually increased to about 100,000 tonnes by 2009 as its drinking in non-conventional regions of north, west and east contributed 16,000 tonnes.

“Consumption in the non-south regions has grown phenomenally with the northern states contributing to over 50 percent of the growth at the rate of 40 percent year-on-year,” Akhtar said.

Arabica and Robusta are the two popular varieties of coffee beans produced in the Indian subcontinent, with Karnataka accounting for 71 percent of the total production.

As part of the expo, conferences, including plenary sessions and skill-building workshops on roasting and grinding, brewing coffee and cooking with it, will be held to create greater awareness of the brew and accelerate growth in retail, creating value across the chain.

“India has the potential to emerge as a major consuming destination with a 400-million middle class and a strong infrastructure, including a growing pool of professionals and five million bags (50 kg each) of domestically grown high quality coffee,” Akhtar noted.

According to India Coffee Trust president Anil Kumar Bhandari, coffee has changed from being a traditional beverage consumed mainly in southern India to a youthful and trendy beverage with a national presence, consumed in several forms and retail formats.

“Coffee drinking has been growing due to visibility, interest and growing popularity owing to an increasing number of coffee bars and cafes across the country. A significant shift in demographics, increased urbanisation and greater disposable income levels have also contributed to the success of coffee cafes,” Bhandari told IANS.

The Trust has also designed modules to educate and train participating professionals to build their knowledge base and skill sets beneficial for the coffee business and professional development.

“The skill-building workshops at the flagship event will provide an interactive and learning experience with focus on roasting, espresso-making and filter coffee brewing. Cooking with coffee will be conducted by instructors, including an Australian chef,” Bhandari noted.

“With consumption growing around six percent per annum, the Indian coffee industry is poised for a double-digit growth in the coming decades. The primary focus of the fest is to tap into the country’s great potential,” Coffeelab Ltd chief executive and renowned coffee taster Sunalini N. Menon said.

Though production for the coffee year 2010-11 was a tad lower at 302,000 tonnes than the estimated 308,000 tonnes but 4.3 percent higher than that in the previous year (2009-10), export quantity zoomed to 319,892 tonnes, posting a whopping 63 percent increase from the previous year.

(Fakir Balaji can be contacted at

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