For the love of coffee
The most loved brew across the globe is without an ounce of doubt - coffee. For millions, it is a delight to start the day with a hot and aromatic cup of coffee. What started in Africa has now spread across the world since centuries. Coffee plants are now cultivated in over 70 countries, primarily in the equatorial regions of the America, Southeast Asia, Indian subcontinent, and Africa. Closer home, we have Araku coffee beans, which has its own distinction. The Arabica coffee from this valley has acquired the geographical indication (GI) by Coffee Board.
S Krishna Chaitanya, who hails from the Konaseema region, is an avid coffee aficionado. And to protect the unique identity of Araku Valley coffee, which is grown by tribal communities, he decided to venture into coffee business and started a chain 'Araku Aroma' cafes across India and in the US.
"I am a huge coffee enthusiast and as I am from the Konaseema region I always used to love to visit Araku. The main reason for me to venture into this business is to help the tribal communities who grow coffee. There are sourced from the Eastern Ghats and produced by the tribal farmers and is absolutely organic," Krishna says.
Krishna informs that the unique property of Arabica coffee comes with different flavours of spices and other condiments grown in Araku valley. "The tribal farmers do not use any kind of pesticides and are growing organic coffee in the highest elevations of eastern ghats. The Araku variety of coffee beans has a niche market in Switzerland, Sweden, France and Dubai."
Krishna, who actively participates in the development of marginal communities from his college days shares that many companies and brokers buy the coffee beans at cheaper rates and the tribal farmers are not getting their desired shares. "I want to help these people grow… and we want to spend 10 per cent of our profits from selling Araku Aroma to procure anti-venom drugs. A lot of farmers succumb to snake bites as the medical help is a bit far from their area. We would also want to provide general medical facilities to the tribal community."
"We had an agreement and according to it, we are buying coffee beans harvested by tribal farmers in around 250 acres. The company plans to market around 500 tonnes of coffee annually through retail."
Until now, Araku Aroma does not use chicory in their coffee powder to ensure the brewe is pure. "Till now we never used chicory. However, we south Indians are used to having coffee with chicory, and so, there is a huge demand from the customers for chicory based Araku coffee. We are launching coffee with chicory very soon."
Krishna Chaitanya is the founder and CEO of Krish Food and Fun (India), and he says that he saw a huge potential to popularise the Araku Aroma brand across the country. He opened the first Araku Aroma cafe in Punjagutta. The coffee house spread over 1,200 sq. ft serves coffee from beans that are freshly roasted. The place is an ideal hangout for a coffee lover. "We are coming up with cafes in Gurgaon, Bengaluru among other places in the country. And we have plans to open one of the biggest coffee shops of about 6,000 sq. ft. at Banjara Hills or Jubilee Hills very soon."
Right now, Araku Aroma Cafes serve Italian cuisine across the chain and Krishna wants to introduce tribal cuisine in their menu. "It sounds more right to serve tribal cuisine in a café named after Araku. We are planning to change our menu and serve food from that region. Dishes like Pothalam Chicken and panakam amongst others will be introduced. If you go to our café in Delhi or the US you will find the same dishes with same consistency."
Krishna shared that shortly he is planning to conduct coffee workshops for people who are interested in learning the process. "Our café here at Panjagutta is also a research and training centre. We train our employees here and send them to their respective outlets. From November, I am planning to train youngsters, homemakers and anybody who has an interest in the process of coffee. It will be a certified course and it will be helpful for youth in particular as they will be skilled in roasting and brewing coffee."