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Passion for coffee

A whole latte love

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CHIC KAAPI: Jatana (top left), a Mumbai-based coffee coach, and Shome, the founder of theindianbean. com, are helping create a local market for quality coffee by bringing good beans to the doorstep

Guess who doesn't shy away from the daily grind? India's new tribe of coffee-preneurs.

Coffee shops have been hives of business ideas for many years. Now, some young entrepreneurs are putting their money where their coffee-loving mouths are.

Sahil Jatana, 30, chucked his marketing job to pursue his passion for coffee. The Mumbai-based Jatana explains, "A lot of people are interested in coffee but not equipped with the knowledge to make it at home. Going to a cafê every day isn't affordable or feasible either. " Enter Jatana, the coffee coach. "I host workshops where I give people all the help and advice they need to make that great cup of coffee at home. " His next venture - the soon-to-belaunched www. coffeecoach. in. This will be an online store providing everything from freshly ground coffee to the best machines.

While Jatana picked up on the lack of knowledge about the brew, actress Tillotama Shome, who launched www. theindianbean. com, felt that Indian coffee was suffering on account of lack of representation. Here's why: Approximately 80 per cent of the coffee produced in India is exported. Indians, meanwhile, are stuck with the instant variety.

The Coffee Coach and The Indian Bean are home-grown, indie online coffee ventures that show the way for the future. By bringing some of those good beans to your doorstep they're also helping with the creation of a local market. According to Sunalini Menon, founder and CEO of Coffeelabs, Bangalore, "Domestic demand is very important. These online interventions will take the edge off the high export of coffee and find new palates. "

"Filter coffee is a mix of Arabica and Robusta coffee beans. During the World War II Robusta had a bad harvest, which resulted in chicory making its way into filter coffee. After enduring two decades of this chicory-infused filter coffee, Indians moved onto instant coffee and this trend was pervasive for the next two decades. Unfortunately, I grew up on these consumption trends as well, " explains Shome.

Consequently, in 2010, following her return to India from Dubai, Shome dedicated herself to the coffee trail. "On a visit to BR Hills, Karnataka, I met a 75-year-old guy who'd been farming organic coffee for nearly two decades. I was stunned to learn that his entire crop got exported to Sweden;this really got me thinking, " she recalls.

Shome ordered her first batch from the same farm but lost out to a Japanese company which placed a bigger order. "The plantation owner had been open to the idea of me buying beans from him. I wasn't haggling with him and was more than happy to pay the amount he quoted. Unfortunately, the Japanese had a bigger order and that tilted the sale in their favour. " Be that as it may, Shome is of the opinion that "the farmers are more interested than ever before in generating local demand and interest in their product. "

The Indian Bean is currently headlining with two single estate, or micro lot, coffees called Appa's Coffee from Coorg and Frowner's Coffee from Kodaikanal. The online portal hopes to make six new variations available in the near future. "Ideally, following the roasting process we'd like to take no more than two days to deliver. Our aim is to make freshly roasted coffee available to our customers, " adds Shome.

Jatana was four years old when he first consumed coffee. "No amount of Bournvita, or whatever else, could get me to drink milk. I started drinking milk the moment my mother added coffee to it. " In 2009, Jatana quit his job as a mobile marketing manager and never went back. A coffee shop would require high investment and was out of the question, so Jatana took up Kaapi-Shastra, workshops conducted by the Coffee Board of India. "After Kaapi-Shastra I started conducting workshops called Brew It Right. They were well received and over the course of one year. Approximately 200 people enrolled. " Jatana is currently working on getting his online store off the ground.

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