Gone are those days when coffee was only about filter coffee or ‘kaapi’ in the south or for that matter a handful of businesses, which used to dominate the coffee industry through their mass production and heavy advertising in the country. The third wave movement, which was pioneered by entrepreneurs like Blue Tokai, Flying Squirrel, and third-wave coffee roasters have redefined the landscape of coffee consumption in India. Their artisanal coffee is sourced from single estates of Karnataka, is roasted in batches, and blended carefully.
While the growth has been positive for the artisanal coffee producers, it still can’t be compared to the growth of mainstream coffee consumption. Ashish Dabreo, founder of the Flying Squirrel Coffee brand, says, “The growth of gourmet coffee is increasing but compared to the mainstream one, it still is small.”
From light, medium, dark and super dark roasted coffee to guest estate coffee from Bellarimotte coffee farm, which is located 3,000 feet high up in the Western Ghats, The Flying Squirrel offers eight variants of coffee. Up to 70% of this coffee comes from self-owned estates.
Most of the players in this segment practice niche marketing strategies and advertise their products on social media websites. Today, exclusive restaurants and cafes have started to order premium coffee from these coffee roasters to give the consumer an amazing coffee experience.
Coffee as a Social Cause
Meanwhile, over the last couple of years, the country has started to witness a fourth wave movement with social entrepreneurs joining hands with coffee growers or farmers to make this industry more sustainable. Arshiya Urveeja Bose, who founded Black Baza Coffee, enables coffee producers to have stable livelihoods and aims to strengthen coffee farming practices that conserve biodiversity. “The idea is to create a local, participatory and meaningful movement of coffee – a production, distribution and marketing system which values producers and nature equally,” she states.
Bose did her doctorate studies on the political ecology of markets for biodiversity conservation from Cambridge University and studied sustainability certifications in coffee for over six years. “The uneven power structure of coffee value chains and the inherent limitations of existing sustainability mechanisms is what emboldened us to create Black Baza Coffee,” she informs.
Their partner farms grow coffee under the shade of forest trees, which is free of chemical pesticides. The company claims that 97.5% of partner farms also restrict the use of any chemical fertilisers.
Packaging Counts Too
Coffee businesses are also getting mindful with regards to their packaging. Not only is the packaging eco-friendly but also share information with the customer about the estate from which their coffee has been sourced. “Our packaging is fully biodegradable. The outer bag is made from sugarcane waste. The inner bag is biodegradable plastic that disintegrates between 6-24 months in landfill conditions,” Bose says.