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About Coffee in India..

The Coffee Belt, which wraps around the globe between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn, is where all of the world`s coffee is grown. India was one of the earliest producers of coffee with coffee trees basically a backyard crop as early as the 17th century. The arrival of the British in the 1600s brought coffee plantations to the peak of Bababudan Giris, where a Hindu temple sits today, nestled among the dense forest of coffee trees lining the sharp slopes. But in the past, Indian coffee has been thought of as mediocre at best.

These days, thanks to changes not only in cultivating, processing and roasting, but also in more modern attitudes toward safety and worker benefits, Indian coffee beans are staking a claim to their place on the world coffee stage.

Before the mid-nineties, the Indian government controlled all of the country`s coffee production and reaped the majority of profits from selling inferior coffee to the Soviet Union. The government paid farmers for quantity while doing little to nothing to regulate or even investigate the quality. The poor quality of their product kept India completely out of contention for sales to worldwide coffee purveyors such as Starbucks when the designer craze of the 1970s took over the coffee world. However, thanks to one woman, the tide was already turning even before the Indian government let go of their monopoly. 

While the government was focused almost solely on quantity, Sunalini Menon had quietly set up a small program that paid higher prices for coffee that tasted better than most of what India was producing and exporting. When the government released its stranglehold on the industry, Sunalini Menon took early retirement and opened Coffeelab in Bangalore. Her nine staff members serve as a go-between, inspecting coffees and reporting back to large chains, while advising local farmers how to improve the quality and taste of their crops.

One of the issues facing Indian farmers is that the beans harvested are almost exclusively Robusta beans, which have garnered a reputation for a harsh and bitter taste. Robusta is routinely used in cheaper grinds and in making instant coffee. Although she serves as a judge for the Specialty Coffee Association of America`s Cup of Excellence competition, Sunalini Menon has not been able to change Robusta`s lack of respect in the contest. 

Sunalini Menon believes that this is due more to the way that Robusta beans are processed than to any inherent inferiority of the beans themselves. Wet roasting is the key to bringing out the buttery and spicy flavor of Robusta beans, but setting up a wet-roasting operation can be prohibitively expensive, especially for small independent farmers.

Growing coffee in India often requires growing other crops as well such as cardamom, cocoa, areca nuts and coconuts. There is a shortage of coffee workers on the larger plantations, despite efforts to ensure that the work is not miserably uncomfortable as it is on so many American commercial farms. 

Almost all Indian coffee is grown in the shade, which means that workers are not forced to spend hours harvesting the beans in unrelenting sunlight. India`s mandated minimum wage is $4 per hour, but coffee workers on plantations receive generous benefits including free housing, maternity leave and child care as well as pensions.

On top of the human benefits, most Indian coffee is sustainable and bird-friendly, making the Indian coffee industry not only an exciting venture, but an ethical one. 

Even the best coffee is only as good as the machine in which it is brewed, so the coffee lovers at Indian Food recommend checking out Caffe Society`s recommendations for quality, affordable coffee machine leasing equipment to serve all of your coffee needs. 

ESPRESSO FREEZE   (makes 1 cup)

1 cup strong black coffee

2 tablespoons condensed milk

pinch of ground cinnamon

few drops vanilla extract

  • Let the coffee cool, then pour into ice cube trays and freeze until solid in the freezer.
  • Place the frozen coffee cubes in a blender and pulse in short burst until grainy. Add all the other ingredients and process until well combined. Spoon into small chilled glasses and serve immediately.


(makes 1 cup)

1 cup strong black coffee

2 tablespoons condensed milk

pinch of ground cinnamon

few drops vanilla extract

sugar (optional)

  • Mix all ingredients together.
  • Serve hot.


(makes 2 cups)

1 cup water

1 cup milk

1 cinnamon stick (1 inch long)

4 cardamom pods

2 tbsp coffee, regular grind

sugar (optional)

  • Boil water and milk together in saucepan.

  • Add cinnamon stick and cardamom pot into boiling liquid.

  • Boil over medium heat 1 minute.

  • Add grind coffee and boil 3 minutes. Make sure it does not boil over

  • Strain coffee through cheesecloth into another pan.

  • Serve immediately.

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