Artisanal brew

The delicate art of marrying roasted beans with tasting sensibilities is influencing the future of boutique coffee, writes Pooja Prabbhan
Last Updated : 10 October 2020, 19:15 IST

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The burgeoning all-new coffee culture in India has been in the constant pursuit of rewriting the rules — innovative flavour notes, ingredient pairings, maverick cultivation and processing ideas and the likes. So, what has really egged home-grown brands on to make a shift — and reimagine cuppa coffee like never before?

“‘What if’ is our favourite way to begin a sentence when it comes to coffee. What if we feed yeast with a different kind of sugar. What if we add lactic acid bacteria during the fermentation stage. What if we ‘stress’ a coffee plant, and methodically starve it of water, with the objective to make it produce more sugar in its cherries. What-if is now a thing with us. We’re what-iffers, and that’s the story behind our orange juice fermented coffee and the micro-lot of lactic acid bacteria fermented coffee — aptly named Milk & Honey, along with a host of different blends,” begins Ashish D’ Abreo, partner of a Coorg-based coffee brand that offers new blends, new products, coffee bean profiles and variants to create different flavours and textures of coffee.

Ashish divulges that, “With cold smoking coffee, one can experience these mellow smoky notes even with a mild roast, which means all the other goodness of a quality Arabica are intact. Smoky notes in a coffee are desirable qualities. However, up until now, these notes could only be got by roasting the beans past a certain temperature during which coffee oils are precipitated, sugars are burnt and delicate flavours and textures are dissipated,” he adds.

For, Ajai Thandi, co-founder of a ready-to-drink brew, gauging the gap in the market is what pushed his brand to offer cold brew coffees with a twist. “The original cold brew packs is our signature, best-selling product since the start. Made with 100 per cent Arabica Coffee beans, it has a signature chocolatey taste that is a result of the right beans, roast and grind. Last year, we launched hot brew bags that offered a fresh hot brew in five minutes. Given the ease of use, convenience and quality of coffee, these have become increasingly popular with our customers,” Ajai avers.

From ‘Madras Mud’, a customised take on the filter coffee to cappuccino, and iced peppermint mocha, gourmet coffees are welcome with open hands in India. “Our coffees come from renowned estates in Chikmagalur where beans are hand-picked to ensure quality in every cup that’s brewed. We roast in small batches and deliver the freshest coffees, and have a wide range of coffees available to suit every taste and palate. From classics to new age flavours like salted caramel and watermelon, our coffees delight customers of all kinds,” elaborates Lakshmi Dasaka, co-founder of a hand-crafted gourmet coffee venture.

It’s healthy

The subtle, aromatic and delicious notes can be a great add-on for the health-conscious. “Some of the bestsellers in our artisanal range include Irish hazelnut, crème caramel, sparky orange and dark chocolate. But what needs to be noted is that these ‘fancy’ creations come with zero preservatives, no additives, no added sugar and no colourants,” states Bharat Sethi, founder and CEO of an award-winning coffee venture that excels in infusing their brew with natural vitamins. “The unconventional coffees are made from the highest quality Arabica and crystallised in small batches. These are offered in 7-day batches. The shots available can be conveniently used anywhere and gives you a single-serve consistent coffee experience with the right proportions,” he adds.

Unique blend

Lastly, the artisanal approach to cultivation that the farmer has defined for himself could apply to the whole estate.

“The term artisanal coffee implies that the producer is growing/ processing/ roasting (etc.) coffee from a traceable source in a manner that highlights unique flavours and tasting notes. There is clarity in the way the coffee tastes (good or bad, mostly good) because all of the coffee is from a single source, and of a particular kind of processing as opposed to regular coffee which is just a bulk amalgamation of green coffee from different estates and growing regions. Because each artisanal coffee is very unique to the farm on which it is grown, coffee drinkers who care about their brew and want to experience an array of flavour profiles are actively seeking them out, which is making artisanal coffee popular,” concludes Ashish.

Published 10 October 2020, 18:55 IST

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