Exploring Traditional Indian Coffee Culture Coffee Resource, Culture When you think about coffee, where is the first place you think of? Probably not India, right? Well, you’d be surprised… While not first in the World’s Top Coffee Producers, India ranks a respectable #6. Surprised? In actuality, coffee has been present in the country for many decades, with a coffee history that dates back to 1670! But, although the country has been a top producer for several years, coffee culture in India (with the exception of the southern region) is still relatively new. Indian Coffee: A Brief History Coffee is said to have been introduced to India in 1640 when Baba Budan, an infamous Indian Sufi saint, stopped in the Yemeni port of Mocha (or Mokka) while on a pilgrimage to Mecca (Islam’s holiest city). One day, Baba Budan happened upon some of the popular Mocha coffee beans and bought some. He soon fell in love with the newfound beverage and smuggled 7 coffee beans out of Mocha. He then planted the beans back at his home in Karnataka, India. It is here that Indian coffee originates as Budan’s private backyard plantings grew tremendously, eventually taking over what is now called the Baba Budan hills. Coffee plantations in the south were established while the country was still under British rule; as these plantations became more and more successful, coffee plantations spread throughout the country. Thus, a lush ecosystem and steady economy were slowly born- both of which are still thriving today. Coffee Cultivation and Facts The country is home to over 16 unique indigenous coffee varietals! India is the only country which grows the entirety of their coffee crops in the shade. The cash crop is usually grown in high elevations in damp humid climates. Many coffee plantations are also operating spice farms. As a result, Indian coffee is often planted near spices like cardamom and cinnamon which gives the coffee a distinct spicy flavor. Other coffee is grown by sweeter crops like oranges, vanilla, and bananas which gives the coffee a light, fruity and/or floral taste. However, as successful as the Indian coffee trade is, locals still much prefer tea to coffee. Due to this fact, a whopping 80% of India’s coffee is grown solely for commercial purposes. This is slowly changing though, as coffee culture continues to evolve in the country. Indian Coffee Culture As mentioned, coffee culture in India is still a relatively new thing. It is continually maturing and evolving thanks, in large part, to India’s youth choosing coffee houses as places to meet up. The caffeinated beverage is slowly but surely making a name for itself in Indian culture as a whole, with a steady 5% increase in consumption each year. In the early 1940s, a small group of dismissed Indian Coffee Board members created the “Indian Coffee House” brand that exists today. In 1957, the Indian Coffee House was the first coffee shop to open in the country. It still serves loyal patrons at over 400 locations. Cafe Coffee Day is the Starbucks of India. With over 1500 stores across the country, this convenient café and coffee shop chain provides a place for people to meet up while simultaneously opening the coffee market to a widespread audience. In 2013, proponents from the tea industry went to the Indian government to ask that tea be named the official drink of the country. The government denied them, not wanting to discourage an industry that is not only bringing in millions to the country’s economy, but seems to be a new favorite among its citizens. How to Make Indian Espresso This is just one of many recipes available for Indian coffee. Who doesn’t love the rocket fuel that is espresso? What you’ll need: Ground Indian coffee (fine grind) Large coffee mug Spoon 2 Tbl. sugar (more or less depending on personal preference) 1 cup milk 1 tsp. water Cocoa Powder (to sprinkle on top, optional) Instructions: In coffee mug, add ground coffee and sugar. Add water and mix. With a spoon, start beating mug mixture vigorously- incorporating as much air as possible- until mixture is frothy and whipped. Heat up milk before pouring over whipped mixture. Stir, making sure everything is incorporated. Sprinkle cocoa powder over the top. Enjoy! Want to learn about coffee culture in other countries? Check out our posts about Traditional Irish Coffee Culture, Traditional Greek Coffee Culture, and Traditional Vietnamese Coffee Culture– all with recipes included for iconic coffee beverages from each country!