Despite the fact that India is a major coffee-producing nation, until the arrival of cafe chains such as Barista and CCD the beverage was to a large extent the preserve of south Indian states where the stuff is grown. The rest of us contentedly drank instant coffee. Filter coffee was had as a meal-ender at Udupi joints and in restaurants that by the enlightened standards of today served brews that would be considered undrinkable. It’s only in the last five years or so that coffee has acquired a cachet among a constituency of consumers keen to know the provenance of what they’re eating and drinking. The interest has been fuelled by two groups of people: entrepreneurs who began sourcing and selling coffee from individual plantations, and younger generations of long-standing coffee-producing families keen to acquire a new clientele. They’re both building a growing customer base by retailing coffee in e-stores and in shops in major Indian cities other than those in the south. In the first of a two-part round-up, we review the offerings of five companies that sell single estate coffees and blends made of beans from multiple farms.
Former advertising executive Kunal Ross started selling single estate coffees in Mumbai and online in October 2012. He wanted to introduce drinkers to the diversity of local coffee by naming the estates. Before single estate brews became trendy, branded coffees such as Philips provided little information on the provenance of their beans. Ross currently gets Arabica and Robusta beans from six farms in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh and has them roasted in Mumbai and Sagara and Mysore in Karnataka. The restaurants in the city that serve The Indian Bean coffees include Farmer & Sons and Kala Ghoda Café in Kala Ghoda, Quench Café and Leaping Windows in Andheri and Spring Street Bakery in Bandra.
Tasting notes The bestselling Appa’s is our top choice followed by Watapi. Appa’s is terrifically aromatic coffee that has a velvet-gloved impact; it’s strong but not puckeringly bitter. Watapi is slightly mellower with a fruity undertone.
Price Appa’s: Rs290 for 250 grams; Watapi: Rs450 for 250 grams.
Buy them here. They’re also sold by the bag at Foodhall in Lower Parel, The Bombay Store in Fort and Westside Gourmet in Kala Ghoda.