India is the sixth largest coffee producer in the world but Indians, on the whole, were not major coffee drinkers. Apart from the south where filter kaapi reigned supreme, tea has dominated the psyche of the average Indian. Things are changing rapidly though as the twin forces of globalisation and Internet have made coffee the cool new drink. More and more Indians are turning coffee to fuel their workday as cafes, both international and domestic, are sprouting across all cities and towns. These fast expanding cafes are the prime spot for people to catch up or spend a few hours either working, reading or just whiling away the time. Equipped with free wifi and air-conditioning, these cafes are also fast becoming the venue of choice for informal work meetings. Where until only 20 years ago, cappuccino, latte and double shots would have been alien words, today’s Indian not only knows the difference between them but can also discern between a medium, dark or light roast and are on the hunt for the best coffee machine.
But even this pattern of coffee consumption is changing. Whereas earlier Indians were satisfied with drinking coffee at cafes and tea at home, the same no longer holds true, people now want to enjoy cafe quality coffee at home and are not shying away from purchasing coffee machines and single origin coffees to take their love for coffee to the next level. Another reason for this trend is the high level of sugar and artificial flavouring present in the signature coffee drinks of many cafes, which does not sit well with the health conscious youth of today. Contrast this with the scenario of only a few years ago when the average Indian would have had no idea about the different coffee brewing methods, let alone think of purchasing a coffee machine. The hunt for the best coffee machine is on as Indians comb through internet reviews, form coffee appreciation clubs, attend coffee tasting meets for the best brew available. Gourmet coffee roasters and sellers find themselves flooded with orders for their artisanal blends and instant coffee, the go-to coffee option of the past is given a miss.
While popular misconception may lead people to think that coffee machine price in India is horribly prohibitive or the products available are of poor quality, nothing could be further from the truth. Coffee makers in India are not only at par with international brands, but the prices are also competitive, making owning the best coffee maker for one’s needs a distinct possibility for everyone. Grinding ones own coffee, brewing it at home is now considered a sign of sophistication instead of a tedious and well-avoided chore as thought earlier.
From a niche beverage to a drink signifying upward mobility and youth, coffee in India has traversed a long and interesting path in just twenty short years leaving us to wonder what the next coffee consumption trend will be. And while we wait for it to turn up, may we suggest a piping hot cup of coffee?