From farm to cup: Craft Coffee in Kolkata is revolutionising the coffee scene in India

The co-founders of Craft Coffee, Abhinav Kumar and Dipraj Das, talk about how ethics and sustainability play a key role

Suchayan Mandal Updated: Saturday, May 28, 2022, 07:00 PM IST
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If your day doesn’t start without the aroma of freshly brewed coffee, then this story is for you. The districts of Kodagu, Hassan and Chikmagalur in Karnataka together produce more than 70 per cent of India’s coffee. However, the farmers in the coffee plantations aren’t waking up as energetic as the consumers. Erratic weather conditions, constant fall in the price of beans in the global market, and abrupt rise in domestic inflation have contributed to compromising living standards for coffee farmers across India.

And this is where ethical coffee plays an important role to ensure the flow of coffee in your cup is uninterrupted. With a vision to revolutionise the coffee scene, the co-founders of Craft Coffee, Abhinav Kumar and Dipraj Das talk about how ethics and sustainability play a key role. Excerpts:

What does ethical sourcing of coffee mean?

For Craft Coffee, ethical sourcing doesn’t only translate to farmers being paid fairly for the coffee they are producing but also makes the journey sustainable and profitable. Traceability and transparency about the supply chain are key focus areas for us to ensure the coffee plantations — Nandipura, Crystal Valley, Kanamad, etc — we work with to get their due.

Ethical accreditation, fair trade and price transparency are our pillars. We have also started working with plantations to ensure the business and community are more sustainable. Indian coffee plantations produce good quality coffee. However, we need to work on traceability and provide visibility to the coffee connoisseurs.

How does the coffee go through the 360-degree life cycle?

We started with the ethos of completing bean to cup journey and making speciality Indian coffee accessible to connoisseurs. As professional roasters, the brand also supports other cafés by curating specific blends for them under the Coffee Box programme. Besides, we work closely with the plantations which we source from in terms of value addition for mutual growth. Today, we are working towards sustainability and recyclability to have 360-degree integrity. Through our Go for Grounds campaign, we are using coffee grounds to develop an organic range which utilises the nutrient value of the same in verticals like a skincare range. We also offer the coffee grounds as manure cakes for the consumers.

Talking about the taste, how do you integrate fusions with traditional coffee?

There is a negative connotation about coffee blends. It suggests roasters use coffee blending to mask undesirable bean flavour profiles with other more palatable coffee beans. On the contrary, we work towards changing the way one thinks about coffee. We strive continuously to curate flavour profiles and recipes suiting different types of guest palettes basis the continuous focus group surveys we do to understand our guests better. All fusion coffee recipes are curated after due trials and sampling, keeping consistency in mind. The idea is to keep working towards spreading the coffee culture and making it palatable for all tastes. Hence, if you walk into our experience centre, we will create a fusion named after you, which you can keep asking for whenever you come again.

Does this bring exclusivity in taste?

We firmly believe that all coffee is good as long as it’s brewed with perfection and served with passion. We should rather focus on building an ecosystem where cafés and plantations work closely in promoting the Indian speciality coffee culture everywhere.

How do you support sustainability inside your café?

Our idea is inclusivity, be it the farm or the table. For instance, Arijit Roy is one of the most talented baristas in our team. Short of hearing and being mute didn’t deter him from pursuing his passion. Not only is he brilliant in the art of coffee-making but also a gifted painter winning accolades at state and national levels. Now, he is being groomed as a professional roaster, which is the next step he wants to take. This is how we build our community.

Tell us about a women-run bakery at your café.

For these women, baking has turned into meditation where they feel their troubles melt away. They attempt at replicating the comfort and warmth of their homes and hence comes the cleanliness, discipline, presentation, precision and service. We also aim to get them professionally accredited in courses of their choice in near future for their future growth.

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