While coffee is an energy booster for some, it is a stress buster for others, however for most, coffee is that go-to drink that can never go wrong. Thus, International Coffee Day celebrates this aromatic beverage consumed and preferred by almost every age group.
However, along with coffee, a culture is brewing across the country - The Coffee Culture. Even though India is one of the biggest producers of tea, it is interesting to notice how coffee is taking over, with numerous coffee brands and chains penetrating the market, and expanding their footprint across the country.
These new-age coffee brands come with their own USPs allowing customers to pick and choose what they desire, for instance, Rage coffee provides innovative flavored coffee, The Caffeine Baar is an experimentative specialty coffee brand, and Bhava Coffee provides authentic South Indian Filter coffee with innovation, and Maverick & Farmer offers coffee with notes of caramel, chocolate, and fruitiness.
The Onset of the Coffee Culture
While a brand like Café Coffee Day was amongst the first ones to popularise espresso-based drinks in India, Ashish D'Abreo, Co-founder of Maverick & Farmer, one of India's few farm-to-cup coffee brands believes a lot of this evangelization can be attributed to the mushrooming of large IT and ITES offices and workplaces that offered employees quality bean-to-cup coffee experiences, converting a largely tea-drinking workforce into a coffee drinking one.
Bharath GB, Co-founder of Bhava Coffee, a newly-launched filter coffee brand says the customers have evolved over time.“They are more aware of the kind of coffee they want, having a wide range of products available. The industry’s progress in terms of using technology to make coffee more accessible has also enhanced the market size,” he added.
On a similar note, Poojya Prasad, Founder of The Caffeine Baar stated that the coffee movement in India has already taken off in a big way, she added, “Although tea is India's most popular beverage, in recent years, coffee is emerging as the beverage of choice among millennials and GenZ. While for many Indians, filter coffee or cold coffee is still a staple, the interest and excitement for specialty and artisanal coffee are steadily growing too.”
India is thus becoming very strategic for coffee consumption and being surrounded by the major coffee-producing areas is aiding the same. “Definitely, the young crowd is marking a shift in coffee consumption - they are people who frequented the existing cafés or sampled the existing legacy coffee brands in the market and are opening up a whole slice of opportunity for experimentation with coffee,” commented Bharat Sethi, Founder, and CEO, Rage Coffee.
From brewing coffee at home to understanding the coffee beans in detail, it can be said that India is finally embracing the coffee culture.
The Raging Café Culture
Although the café culture is here to stay, the post-pandemic influx cannot be denied. With the restrictions being lifted cafes are becoming crowded.
“The cafe culture can be considered trendy and is a big reason for shifting preferences. Coffee brewing and home brewing is a very involving and engaging process, there are so many different kinds of beans, roasts, blends, brewing techniques, methods, and recipes, which makes it exciting for anyone to take up home-brewing and in general, adopt coffee as a preferred beverage,” said Ashish D’Abero.
“Today, from the minute you walk into an artisanal coffee shop, the whole experience is entirely different from what you might experience in a regular coffee shop,” added Poojya Prasad.
As per Prasad, consumer tastes and preferences have evolved over the years, with an increasing interest to experiment with new flavors like Boba Cold Brew, Turkish Coffee, Cinnamon Vanilla Latte, Apple Cider Cold Brew to name a few.
According to Sethi, “The young crowd is marking a shift in coffee consumption - they are people who frequented the existing cafés or sampled the existing legacy coffee brands in the market and are now opening up a whole slice of opportunity for experimentation with coffee.”
The Coffee Diversity
The new-age coffee brands are bringing a variety of coffee discoveries to the table and for the taste palates of different consumers.
While Bhava Coffee offers filter coffee blends to offer authentic South Indian Filter Coffee; Rage coffee offers a wide variety of flavored, functional coffee, infused with plant vitamins.
Offering flavored undertones, Maverick & Farmer has developed controlled fermentation techniques to create new flavor profiles with notes of caramel, chocolate, and fruitiness, while The Caffeine Baar offers coffee with pineapple, frozen cherry, and papaya fermentation.
The Coffee Marketing Strategy
It can be noticed that the new-age coffee brands are more inclined towards a direct-to-customer approach for their products.
While Maverick & Farmer follows a 50-50 phy-gital model, the brand states that its digital business contributes most to its retail D2C sales, and its physical business supports visibility and brand awareness, Bhava Coffee follows a 100 percent digital approach currently.
On the other hand, Rage Coffee uses an omnichannel approach, selling 50 percent of its products online and the rest offline with more than 4,500 offline stores and touchpoints.
“With an omnichannel approach we have been able to reach maximum customers, catering to their needs, which further helps our brand optimize marketing RoI, offer better pricing, increasing brand engagement, driving repeat purchases with long-term loyalty, and helping us to be present at locations where our customers are looking for Rage Coffee,” commented Bharat Sethi.
Similarly, The Caffeine Baar too follows an omnichannel approach wherein, all its products are sold at its Experience Store and are also available through its own website and other online intermediaries for retail coffee.
The Coffee Technology
While Bhava Coffee, with its product portfolio offering a range of South Indian filter coffee has introduced technology to analyze and design products as per customer needs, technology at The Caffeine Baar is pretty simple, having a Roasting Machine that is run by its own software - Probat, that makes sure each roast tastes the same every single time.
“For our operations, we work with the PetPooja app to fulfill customers’ orders at the experience center or other platforms like Swiggy, Zomato, Amazon, etc. Moreover, our website runs on Shiprocket which is integrated with all delivery platforms and digital payments,” said Poojya Prasad.
Maverick & Farmer uses controlled fermentation processing techniques, roasting profiles that are very uncommon, and experimental fermentation to provide its customers with 8-10 staple roasts of coffee.
Rage Coffee with its instant coffee, liquid coffee decoction, cold brew bags, sachet shots, classic ground coffee, and the freshly roasted whole beans for the coffee gourmands has been innovating with its product portfolio and further offers a new drip bags range, South India filter - filter coffee maker, filter coffee, frother, freshly roasted whole beans coffee, etc.
“We have set up a 30,000 sq feet manufacturing unit along with the warehouse, wherein we manage most of the processes in-house, which makes us very well suited for our customers' buying journeys. Moreover, the software and tools we have built in-house help us and give us better results for post-purchase experience,” commented Bharat Sethi.
The Coffee Future
As per an industry report, the Global Coffee Market was valued at $120.48 billion in 2021 and is expected to reach $166.39 billion by 2028, registering a CAGR of 4.72 percent during 2022-2028.
With new-age coffee brands sharing the limelight with market veterans, it can be clearly noticed that the coffee culture is here to stay and grow along with the coffee industry in the coming years.
With its products being present in more than 4,500 stores across India, Rage Coffee is aiming to reach 10,000 stores by the end of March 2023. The brand is growing 500 percent year on year and is gearing up for the festive season and the upcoming winters.
While, Maverick&Farmer aims to develop newer and innovative variants of coffee using completely natural methods of processing, to create better D2C products, with the intention to make home brewing easier and more accessible. Bhava Coffee plans to go physical this October with its presence in popular food markets.
The Caffeine Baar too in order to expand its footprint, plans to start another Experience Centre in Bengaluru while continuing to process coffee in unique ways at the farm to offer a varied range for its customers.
In totality, the coffee culture is evolving, with coffee retailers and cafes nowadays not only roasting and selling coffee but also aiming at providing customers with the experience of picking their beans and brewing them through various techniques.
“Over the years, Indian coffee culture has progressed from Aero press coffee tournaments to experience centers and coffee-centered events. A fine example of this is best illustrated by the fact that India hosts the National Barista Championships and the Fine Cup Award; which are two of the most prestigious brewing competitions held in the country,” concluded Prasad.