Despite being a Chai nation, coffee culture has been quietly and steadily growing upwards in India. According to Abhinav Mathur, Managing Director, Kaapi Machines, coffee has become an art and a lifestyle beverage. But due to the huge demand, coffee is facing challenges like never before, from farm to cup. Mathur mentioned that unprecedented climate change sparks a domino effect over crop quality and quantity and due to the uncertainty, it is forcing roasters to compromise. Also the lack of the right information in time affects the product. In a conversation with Asmita Mukherjee, Mathur elaborated on the various challenges that the growing coffee industry in the country is facing.
India is transforming from being a chai nation to a coffee nation. As an industry stakeholder how do you view the transformation?
India is mostly seen as a tea-drinking nation, with its famous filter ‘kaapi’ confined majorly to the southern parts of the country. With time came higher and more progressive standards, coffee became an art and thus garnered more price and became a lifestyle beverage.
This movement has led several cafes across the country to conduct detailed demonstrations on how to make coffee using various equipment. Restaurants across the country are realizing the importance of serving better coffee and cafes are now expanding their coffee menus further to provide an experience that is unique to the subcontinent by experimenting with flavours. Homebound coffee brewing has also become more accessible and comes in easier forms now, with concentrates, steeped, single-serve bags, and pour-over coffee single serve packs.
As soon as Starbucks entered into India the whole scene of consuming ready-to-drink coffee changed. The consumers are now well aware about the various coffee variants available so their need has become varied now. As a stakeholder, how do you plan to suffice the need, as that requires skilled baristas in the country?
Kaapi Machines was founded at a time when the café concept was just growing in India. The idea was to provide coffee businesses with the right equipment, training, and support to grow and thrive. The company has since grown and serves many top café chains, hotels and corporates and is considered a market leader in the coffee equipment industry. With the advent of Specialty Coffee cafes like Blue Tokai & Third Wave Coffee Roasters, the choice available to millennials for their coffee brew has multiplied. With millennials demanding ‘Cold Brew Coffee’, ‘Nitro Brew’, ‘Syphons’, ‘Pour Over’ and other such coffee brews, the café chains are having to constantly innovate and upgrade their menu. We support the café businesses by launching products that provide multiple advantages – newer brewing techniques, great design, efficiency of operations and automation. Apart from the best-in-market coffee-making solutions, we also offer extensive barista training and espresso training for new café owners, café staff, coffee aficionados, baristas and anyone who wants to learn the art of making a good cup of coffee. Our espresso and barista training are centred on engagement and innovation that will run you through the coffee-making process step by step.
According to you, what are the challenges that the coffee industry is facing due to the upsurge in demand?
Coffee is facing challenges like never, from farm to cup. Unprecedented climate change sparks a domino effect over crop quality and quantity. The uncertainty is forcing roasters to compromise. Lack of the right information in time affects the product. With growing consumption, the supply falls short. It is difficult to find out if the coffee industry is following ethical methods. More consumption is also leading to new challenges such as wastage of energy, harmful packaging, low wages, and an increase in commodity coffees. As they now say, need is the mother of innovation, the coffee community continues to innovate- new farming techniques, efficient processing methods to new technologies in roasting and sorting, etc. These coffee innovations tell us the future will shine bright.
What are the B2B tie-ups that you have?
Kaapi Machines has had a very successful partnership with Probat (Germany), the world’s largest Coffee Roasting equipment manufacturer through a JV, under which we have been manufacturing Roasters for over 5 years now. There is interest from a select few international partners on various technical collaborations including possible manufacturing, and we may see some of those projects break ground sometime this year.
What are the end-to-end service offerings of Kaapi Machines? How does Kaapi Machines provide its partners with gear, consultation, training and service?
Kaapi Machines functions as a full-stack coffee consultancy, equipment and after sales company in a market dominated by pure-play trading entities. This gives the company an edge amongst competitors, none of whom have created a strong infrastructure with regional and local support for training and after sales service. Newer innovations like our Kaapi iOT platform for vending machines and online ecommerce and CRM tools are also clearly ahead of the industry. Kaapi also conducts many coffee events including Barista contests, coffee community meet-ups and online masterclasses. This all-encompassing approach helps Kaapi Machines maintain its leadership position in the industry.
What are the new age products that the industry is witnessing?
Some popular new-age products include:
• The Brood Nitro: A new age Nitro Coffee Brewer, present at a select few cafes
• The Tone Touch: An innovation which automates the flow rate and water temperature to replicate the manual brews made by hand by Baristas
• The Toddy Cold Brew system: Used by most top café chains in India
At Kaapi, we have also been working on an iOT project, and are ready with our own Kaapi-iOT system, which allows any customer in a retail space or office, to dispense coffee from a machine using just their phones. Millennials also do not like to carry cash around – so this system allows them to pay using their mobile wallets, pick up their favourite coffee from the station and walk away.
Do you have plans to launch new products?
Kaapi Machines has always been about innovation and technology and we have been working towards a very exciting product line-up. While we would be showcasing these products through the year at food shows, here is a sneak peek:
– A Boiler-less Coffee Machine
– Café automation products – to standardize and automate all processes including tamping, milk dispensing and even milk foaming
– Our mainstay brand Rancilio’s new range – with patented Steady Brew technology
– The new cutting-edge Grind-By-Weight Grinders by Mahlkonig, the world’s iconic Grinder brand
– New products from the stable of WMF Germany for small and medium hotels
According to you, is the demand for coffee machines which are made in India picking up in the country? as most of the big cafes still rely on Imported machines?
The key trend is the emergence of many local coffee roasters in almost every major city in India. We have sold more coffee roasters during the last 2 years than in all previous 10 years combined. Indian made coffee machines are not available at the moment.