Coffee berries
Unripe coffee berries - Munnar, Kerala.

India was the seventh¹ largest (after Brazil, Vietnam, Colombia, Indonesia, Honduras and Ethiopia) producer of coffee at 350 000 tonnes in 2017. Exports of Indian grown coffee amounted to 225 000 tonnes (excl. 83 000 t of re-exported coffee) in 2020 valued at USD 714 million. Major importers of Indian coffee include Italy, Germany, Russia, Belgium, Turkey and USA. Arabica variety exports amounted to 47 000 tons.

India grows both Arabica (around 1/3 of production) and Robusta (around 2/3 of production) varieties of coffee. The total planted area of coffee covers around 380 000 hectares mainly in the traditional coffee growing states of Karnataka (58 %), Kerala (22 %) and Tamil Nadu (8 %). Non-traditional coffee growing areas are to be found in Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and North-East India. Major coffee growing districts include Kodagu and Chikmagalur in Karnataka and Wyanad in Kerala. India's coffee plantations provide employment (both permanent and casual) to almost 600 000 persons.

Domestic per capita coffee consumption is negligible especially in regions other than South India when compared to black tea consumption. The recent proliferation of various chains of cafes and vending machines in urban areas across India has given a boost to the popularity of coffee among consumers. Coffee (robusta) futures are traded at the MCX and NCDEX commodity exchanges.

Retail Coffee Chains

India has seen a growth in consumption of coffee sold at coffee and tea chain stores including homegrown Cafe Coffee Day, Barista, Starbucks and Costa Coffee. The value of this market has grown to an estimated ₹ 25 billion in 2018. Although small by international standards, India is seen as one of the faster growing markets for retail coffee sales.

¹Based on ICO (International Coffee Organization).

A coffee outlet in Bangalore selling locally grown coffee among others.

Araku Coffee

Organic Araku coffee produced in North-Western Andhra Pradesh within the Eastern Ghats in the district of Visakhapatnam forms a non-traditional coffee growing area. Araku coffee is of Arabica type and is grown at elevations ranging from 900 to 1100 meters above sea level. The main intercrops are pepper (Piper nigrum), jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus) and mango. Araku Coffee is currently grown in an area covering some 80,000 acres, mainly under private tribal holdings and the state government's Andhra Pradesh Forest Development Corporation. The acreage is planned to be increased by another 60,000 acres by 2012 with an coffee output of 8,000 tons. The agency (tribal) area is largely populated by various indigenous tribal people of whom about 60,000 benefit from the introduction coffee cultivation. Many of these tribal people made a livelihood through shifting cultivation which destroyed large areas of forests prior to coffee cultivation. Read more on Araku Valley coffee >

Coffee plant saplings at the Minumuluru demonstration coffee plantation (elevation 1000 m) in Paderu established in 1971. The farm has one pulping unit. Coffee yield has averaged 550 kilos per hectare during the last five years. Annual rainfall has averaged 1490 mm during the last five years.

About Coffee

Coffee is a tropical plant and grows best in a moist environment with a rainfall requirement of 1,500 mm. The average temperature should be between 19 to 25 C and grows in altitudes upto 2,000 meters. A coffee tree can remain productive for upto 20 years. Coffee harvesting takes place after the rainy season when the tree produces berries. Ready to harvest berries (cherries) are firm and reddish in colour. The protective layers covering the bean itself have to be removed either by a dry or wet method. Blending and roasting are the next steps followed by cupping.

The two main species of coffee (Genus: Coffea are Arabica (Coffea arabica and Robusta (Coffea robusta). Robusta is easier to care for which is why it is one of the cheaper varieties of coffee and is considered a low grade coffee used mainly as a filler. Arabica on the other hand is a high grade coffee and contains less caffeine than Robusta.

Characteristics of Arabica and Robusta Coffees >>

Unripe coffee berries. Ripe coffee cherries are reddish in colour.

Coffee plant saplings

Unripe coffee berries

A view of a coffee plantation located at an altitude of approx. 1000 meters located in Paderu some 40 kms from Araku Valley. The dense canopy of tall trees protect the coffee plants from direct sun light and filter harmful ultraviolet rays.

Coffee Related Links


Coffee Market Information

Video Clips of a Coffee Plantation in Paderu, Andhra Pradesh
Copyright Timir Mozumder