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New initiatives to drive up quality in India

From the June 2016 issue.

A series of programs focused on improving coffee quality are helping Indian coffee producers set their products apart in the international market.

While it is the world’s sixth largest coffee producer – and also holds the distinction of being the first nation to produce coffee commercially outside of North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula – India is still known by many primarily for its tea and spices.

But, while it may not be as well-known for its coffees as Brazil or Vietnam, as the producer of 4 per cent of the world’s coffee, India’s role in the line-up of coffee producing nations is far from insignificant.

However, as a medium-sized producer of coffee, the people at the Coffee Board of India (CBI), who are responsible for the ongoing success of the Indian coffee industry, have identified the need to set India’s coffee apart based on its quality rather than quantity.

“In order to be competitive globally, planters need to produce best quality coffee,” says the CBI’s Director of Finance, Aarti Gupta. “But several factors determine the quality of coffee during its journey from field to cup – notably the practices during the initial post-harvest treatment of the coffee cherries by planters are the most important factors in determining the coffee quality.”

In order to address this issue, the CBI has embarked on a program of quality improvement initiatives aimed at helping Indian coffee farmers set their produce apart from the other coffees on the international market.

Coffee in India is grown entirely under the shade of natural forest trees in the ecologically sensitive Western Ghats, which helps greatly in conservation of ecosystem and biodiversity in the region: a UNESCO World Heritage Site known as a hotspot of biological diversity.

“Given that the quality of coffee in the cup largely depends on the method of picking and processing, the CBI is seeking to ensure that Indian planters have access to orientation about quality and practice selective picking of ripened beans,” Gupta says.

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