By Marc Tormo
Most of coffee producing countries export their highest quality coffee to be consumed thousands of miles away. In the coffee supply chain, the economic value added to the coffee commodity happens during the roasting process. Green coffee is transformed into roasted beans, whiJulian Peak Farmch are highly perishable, but also need to be close to consumers to ensure freshness. Therefore all the big roasters have positioned themselves in non-producing countries, where traditionally the demand for coffee has been.
The Western Cafe Culture has been percolating for years, but today producing countries are also embracing this new wave. The emergence of an affluent middle class, has created a demand for high quality coffee. Although this market is still a niche, it provides enough scope to explore possibilities of future business developments in roasting in country of origin.
The advantages of promoting local coffee brands is many fold. First the quality of the coffee beans is superior, because the beans have been delivered locally instead of being transported in containers for months under unfavorable climatic conditions. Second, we have direct contact with the value chain, from the farmer to the curer and finally the van driver. Third, we have the opportunity to create new jobs and skills, supporting local enterprises: roasters, baristas, bakers, farmers, potters that produce the cups, screen printers, etc.
The brand Marc’s coffee was originally a case study to explore the feasibility of promoting micro-roasting units in coffee producing countries. Our brand today roasts 400 kg of high quality certified coffee from South India. 90% of the sales are made locally through local outlets, mostly hotels and cafes. To introduce our brand we created different blends with different price tags, but always remaining competitive and reasonable.
Indian coffee can taste very different depending on the region, cultivar and post-harvest processing methods. We charted our taste and flavor map of Indian coffee and then blended selectively to bring to the senses our idea of what coffee should be. Full bodied, syrupy, sweet, earthy coffee is the idea I had for my first cup of coffee. It took some time but finally we got our Buma Devi Blend. Floral, mild bodied, slightly acidic and complex is the idea I had for after lunch coffee. Our Single Estate Julien Peak was the choice. Each country has its own way to grow coffee, but the post-harvest can make a big twist to the taste of it and really make a distinction from other coffees within the same country. Therefore the variety of coffee we have is big enough to cater to all palates, from the morning wake up call to the finest single estates of the country.
Training locals, particularly women, to make espresso drinks have also proven successful. Starting fresh with a new set of skills for preparing coffee, local women learn fast and maintain quality well. It is a well-paid and highly-regarded job. Clients establish a special relationship with their baristas. They memorize the preferences of each customer and prepare custom made drinks. At the moment we have a team of five and more to come!
After 5 years of operation, the company is self-sustaining while generating work for local artisans and establishing a network of committed coffee planters. Our unique position within a coffee-producing country allows us to have a higher level of freshness while providing Indian coffee for Indian consumers.
Marc Tormo, the founder of Marc’s Coffee, was born in Valencia, Spain, where he started working with coffee by opening his own branded coffee shops in Barcelona before coffee and café culture was implemented there. In 1997 he and his wife moved to Auroville, India. Since then, Marc has opened his own coffee shop there as well and he has also consulted for hotels, coffee entrepreneurs, communities and government tourism boards. Next year he and his family are residing in South Africa to research cacao production, roasting, and distribution.