Inside the exciting world of artisan coffee
With customers willing to experiment, coffees are changing with the third wave coffee bringing with it a host of new flavours and styles of drinks that are exciting and unusual.
Dense green foliage interspersed with white jasmine-like flowers and ripe red beans welcomes me to Polibetta in Coorg. This is not just any coffee estate. This is Nullore coffee estate, one of Tata Coffee’s 19 estates whose coffee was selected by Starbucks Reserve in June 2016 for sale at its Seattle store, a first ever for Indian coffee. Coffees in India are poised on a global pedestal and it does seem that the sky is the only limit.
Tracing the Path
Artisanal coffee is a home-grown, fresh, and quality-oriented product. The beans, roasts, and brewing are all handled with careful precision by people heavily trained to execute every step to perfection. Naturally then the cup in your hand is full of goodness and also tells you a story that traces the contents of the cup back to the bean. "It is a combination of science and sensibility where the focus is on roasting in smaller batches. More than technicalities it is the involvement of the person who is roasting that is the focus. It traces the bean back to the farmer and the visual sensibility is more important," says Abdul Sahid Khan, Training Manager and Barista, Lavazza Training Center India.
There is definitely an appreciation for single origin and artisan coffee grown in the country. "Currently, we have people all across India moving away from tea and instant coffee and switching over to freshly roasted coffee. We have the privilege of partnering with India’s best farms. The whole idea behind Blue Tokai is not only to give the customer 100% traceable Indian Arabica but also giving the farmers their coffee’s worth," says Apurva Ghoshal, Community Manager, Blue Tokai Coffee Roasters.
Making a Difference
Artisan coffees majorly differ from other coffees in terms of quality. The grower goes the extra mile and takes steps to ensure superior quality, which typically comes at a premium price. “The coffee is prepared using sustainable and respectful farm practices at each stage of production. Right from the careful selection of the beans to the finished form of coffee, each step is taken care of with quality consistency. Artisanal coffee is a trend that has surpassed its trend stage and is given due appreciation by coffee lovers across the nation.
Due to the entry of artisan coffee in India, we have been able to rediscover flavours from all over India which celebrates quality coffee. The key reason for the introduction of artisan coffee was to make different kinds of coffee available and accessible to the Indian patrons,” avers Onkar Samarth, Corporate Chef, Bombay Coffee House. What makes coffee artisan is the character, flavour, and subtleties of finely grown, freshly roasted, and perfectly prepared coffee. “We promote direct trade, transparency, improved farming methods and the manual brewing of coffee. Third Wave Coffee shops that like to source their own beans and have them freshly roasted in-house, either upon order or on a weekly basis is called 'Micro-Roasteries'. We fall into that category as we do roasts in small batches upon request, to make sure the coffee being sold over the counter is as fresh as can be,” says Rizwan Amlani, CEO and Co-Founder, Dope Coffee Roasters. Artisan coffees are usually made at micro-roasteries which are places where coffee is roasted in small batches, possibly using techniques of profile roasting, and by a trained roastmaster. Artisan coffee is coffee that is cultivated, processed, dried, stored, and roasted using creative, non-mass, artisan methods. Artisan coffees are produced in small batches or micro-lots.
Do the New
The Artisanal Coffee wave hit India a few years ago and has since developed an enthusiastic and active following of people who are excited to try new beans, methods of brewing, and roasts. Cold Brew and manual brewing are definitely two of the relatively newer kids on the block when it comes to coffee in India. “Cold Brew, like the name suggests, is coffee that's brewed in cold water instead of hot. By removing the element of heat from the brewing equation entirely, the coffee is instead steeped in the cold water for much longer to extract flavour. Since the method is so different, it's only natural that the outcome is equally different. Cold Brew is a lot smoother, rounder, and mellower, and because of the lack of heat, it's also approximately 70% less acidic than a hot cup of coffee. It's got just as much caffeine, so it's got that base covered well and good. As a drink, it pairs really well with milk, sugar, almond milk, and even tonic water,” explains Amlani.
V60 pour over
Likewise, manual brewing gives the brewer a lot more control over the final cup of coffee, and some of the most popular methods right now are the AeroPress, the V60 pour over, and the Syphon. Incidentally, each brewing method imparts different flavours, which adds to the charm of coffee as a versatile drink. Ashish D Abreo, Founder Partner of The Flying Squirrel says, “The promise of non-mass cultivated coffee is where care and thought have gone into the way coffee is grown, the way it’s processed, and the way it’s roasted and brewed. Artisan coffees are far more distinct and exciting, with clear taste profiles.”
With customers willing to experiment, coffees are changing with the third wave coffee bringing with it a host of new flavours and styles of drinks that are exciting and unusual. The current trends in the niche coffee market are coffee cocktails, bullet coffee, non-dairy coffee, coffee for a younger crowd, nitro, and cold brew. Coffee Cocktails have ensured that coffee has made it to the bar as well. “Cold brews makes for a fantastic cocktail base. As a drink coffee pairs well with most white spirits and even dark rum. Cold Brew Gin and Tonic is something we feel will do well given the resurgence of gin in everyone’s cup. Also if you are looking to party sober, coffee-based concoctions should definitely be your go to. Our nitro tonic and cold brew lemonade look dark and dangerous enough to pass off as some deadly drinks but will keep you sober and satisfied on a night on the town with your friends,” says Amlani.
Many new coffee companies seem to be coming up with the roastery and cafe concept. Ready to drink options like bottled cold brew is also becoming more common, as is an interest in different equipment to brew coffee at home. The cup that cheers has certainly gotten more cheerful.