It’s International Coffee Day (October 1st) and what better time than today to spotlight some fabulous Indian artisanal coffee brands. I have been a coffee enthusiast for a while and I’m always looking to try new coffees. Thankfully, India is seeing an upswing in coffee consumption with many homegrown brands coming up.
The conversation is moving beyond just basic roasting levels and grind sizes. Here, I’m obviously making a distinction between instant coffee and artisanal coffee beans or ground coffee. While the former captures a huge percentage of the Indian coffee-consuming market, the latter is where most of the action is—in terms of experimentation, varieties, and quality. I recently wrote about how Indian artisanal coffee brands are poised to ride the fourth wave of coffee. Read my article for Vogue India here.
The recommendations below are based on my personal experience. I use a Moka Pot to brew my coffee at home—check out my prized Bialetti one that I bought in Florence last year.
Here are 5 Indian artisanal coffee brands that you must try. All of these coffees are available online—either through their websites (links below) or on delivery apps.
Araku differs slightly from the other homegrown brands in that they first launched their coffee in Paris. The project began as a unique social experiment by the Naandi Foundation, which started working with indigenous Adivasi farmers in the Araku Valley. After tasting success in Paris, Araku Coffee launched in India in early 2019 with 4 coffees. I have tried them all and really enjoyed these high-quality coffees.
If I had to pick one, I’d say ‘Micro-climate’, which is sharp and fruity. Araku also offers a range of brewing equipment, including a rather chic looking Moka pot (see above) designed exclusively for Araku by the Scandinavian designers Anderssen & Voll. The elegantly minimalist pot comes in a choice of 6 colours and is available through their online store.
Blue Tokai Coffee Roasters
Blue Tokai was one of the first artisanal coffees that I tried and I still return to it often.
I highly recommend their Bibi Plantation with notes of dark chocolate, toffee, and lime, the nutty, earthy Monsoon Malabar, and Attikan Estate with notes of dark chocolate (are you sensing a theme here?), figs, and roasted almond. Blue Tokai has cafes in major cities around India and I especially love their bright and minimalist cafe at Mahalaxmi, Mumbai.
KC Roasters by Koinonia
KC Roasters has lately been my go-to coffee. I especially like their medium roasts like Red Honey and Elephant Hills, as well as Orchardale (my favourite, but it seems to be out of stock right now). They also had a lovely, limited-edition Amrut Cask-Aged Coffee where the coffee beans are aged in Amrut Whisky barrels. The resulting coffee has a smooth complexity and a long finish.
KC Roasters have a tiny coffeeshop in Bandra, Mumbai. They have also tied up with local artisanal brands so you can order La Folie bread and chocolates, Spotted Cow cheese, Svami tonics, and more from their online shop.
Maverick & Farmer Coffee
Co-founded by the team behind the erstwhile Flying Squirrel Coffee, Maverick & Farmers is really into experimentation at the farm-level. They have launched two new coffees just last month—Ol’ Smoky and Orange You Curious?—and they have more variants lined up for later this year. Ol’ Smoky is perhaps the world’s first cold-smoked coffee. The beans are not directly exposed to the heat source; rather the wood is burned in a separate room and the smoke is let in through a small hole so that the beans can be imbued with its aroma. This results in a beautiful cup with delicate smoky notes but with the sweetness of Arabica beans intact.
I have yet to try Orange You Curious?—here the coffee is fermented with orange juice to introduce refreshing citrusy notes. Launching later this month is Milk & Honey, a lactic acid bacteria fermented coffee, which sounds super-interesting. Maverick & Farmer have 2 cafes in Delhi and one in Bengaluru.
Subko Specialty Coffee Roasters
Subko is the newest entrant on the scene, having opened their coffeeshop in Bandra, Mumbai right at the start of the pandemic! While I have yet to visit the cafe, I ordered in their Ratnagiri Estate 30-hour fermented coffee just yesterday. I have already tried it out and love its complexity and smooth mouthfeel. It’s quite a decadent cup with notes of maple syrup, candied pecans, and apricot.
Subko also has a bakehouse from which they dole out perfect croissants; I mean just look at that photo!
Apart from regular and almond croissants, they offer bread, assorted cakes, tarts, pain au chocolat, cookies, etc.
So give these Indian artisanal coffee brands a shot and let me know what you think. Have you discovered any interesting coffee lately? Leave a comment below; I’m always up for a good cuppa!