Growth Of Coffee Industry In India And Its Future Ahead

Certified Arabica Q Grader and an internationally acclaimed personality, Vikram Khurana is the most celebrated face of the Indian Coffee Community. With abundance of knowledge, Khurana has changed the coffee culture in India for the better. His contributions towards the industry are noteworthy, being a major force in the growth of Italian coffee culture in India, he has paved way to the increase in number of the finest cafés in the country.

Coffee ­ May I call it an addiction, or an aspiring business filled with opportunities or a complex beverage which looks simple and is taking over the world and our country by storm.

Gone are the days when majority of Indians use to address cappuccino as a `expresso' which was also popular as shaadiwala coffee even in the top metros of India in late 90s and early 2000. Coffee which was confined once to best 5 start hotels or Indian coffee houses started being sold at cafes dominated by brands like Café Coffee Day, barista, quickys and started mushrooming all across India from 1998 onwards. That's the era when the Indian middle class and upper middle class was growing and so were the eating and drinking habits throwing opportunities in F&B sector all across.

The early format of cafes was more of hangout places with music, good hot coffees and plenty of rich cold coffees to help customers indulge in the delightful experience with simple food menu mostly outsourced from bakeries to compliment the beverages served. The coffee shops were majorly classified as high street cafes, neighborhood cafes, institutional cafes, internet cafes (though they never served coffee), book cafes etc. and each location had its own set of loyal customers who come for the favorite cup of coffee at least 8-10 times a month. The favorite hot coffees were still cappuccinos with expectation of extra hot milk to satisfy the Indian taste palate and 1-2 sachets of sugar to curb the rich balance of coffee which was considered bitter by most.

Gradually, coffee being considered a lifestyle beverage in India though it's still a perception started evolving more towards the second and the third wave cafe culture

Gradually, coffee being considered a lifestyle beverage in India though it's still a perception started evolving more towards the second and the third wave café culture which emphasized on every cup to be special and the specialty coffee culture caved in and starting growing from 2012 onwards when more coffee roasteries started opening up across India. The cafes started serving more freshly roasted coffees and coffee started entering homes through online and offline retail. Coffee became a topic for discussion replacing wines and everyone wanted to learn more about where to buy the best coffee in India. Opening of cafes started creating job opportunities and entrepreneurship for the young generation which wanted to make coffee a profession or source of income.

The coffee growers started working of new ways of processing coffee beans and experimenting on micro/nano lots which can give a different profile of cup which is different from commercial/mass grade coffee. Ever café that opened felt the need of serving good fresh food pairing it with good coffees and options of both espresso-based coffees and manual brews started showcasing using brewing methods like pour over/ syphon, French press, AeroPress, chemex etc. Some specialty cafes were also offering range of cold brew/nitro cold brew/ hot cascara along with the usual selection and coffee prices for end cup almost doubled considering factors like high rentals, salaries etc.

I still consider this as just a beginning as coffee is only consumed by much less that 18-20 percent of Indians and tea still dominates the mass palate. But these figures show a great potential of growth for coffee business and cafes in our country. Being the 6th largest producer of coffee in the World, our per cup costs are still below 15 percent of ingredient cost on the sale price and a good barista still get not more than 250 US$ or 18000/- in a café. The anticipation is that every good specialty coffee in next 10 years will roast its own coffee inside the café using micro roasting technology as it also helps the café to create his own secret blends, offer rich aroma of coffee every time when he roasts a batch of coffee and offering flexibility to merchandise and retail fresh coffee to his customers for home consumption.

The drinking habits of consumers are also getting influenced by vending machines installed at most of the corporate offices and a variety of good instant coffees available which helps in offering a caffeinated cup to first time drinkers who slowly elevate themselves to a good cappuccino or American in due course of time. The café culture is further getting strengthened by the co working office culture as most enterprising ventures are born over a cup of coffee and India being a hot bed for new startups is being aided by the strong coffee cultures in cities like Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Mumbai and Delhi.

Coffee is an eye opener both for late night work alcoholics and for aspiring Indians looking for entrepreneurial opportunities.