While states like Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu are renowned for their coffee and vast expanses of coffee plantations, little is known about the forested valleys of Andhra Pradesh’s Araku Valley where coffee is grown in abundance and even exported abroad!
In fact, the coffee, which is organically grown by Adivasi farmers from the region, recently found global recognition, when ‘Araku Coffee’ won the prestigious Gold Medal for the best coffee pod in the Prix Epicures OR 2018 Award in Paris, France.
This coffee made its debut in France last year when the brand opened a café store in the capital city and managed to win everyone’s hearts amidst heavy competition from popular Colombian and Sumatran bean varieties.
Started in 2000, Araku Coffee took off as a tribal empowerment initiative led by Naandi Foundation, the NGO, which aimed to uplift the marginalised communities from a life of exploitation, unemployment and deprivation.
The foundation later established a social enterprise named ‘Araku Originals’ to give the coffee a global identity in 2008 and began drawing buyers from countries like Japan, South Korea, Switzerland, and France.
Interestingly, coffee was originally introduced in a neighbouring valley in the late nineteenth century by a British man, before slowly making its way to the Araku Valley by the mid-1950s.
Back then, the AP government had stepped up and established the Girijan Co-operative Corporation (GCC) in 1956, with the sole objective of providing dignified livelihoods to the tribals of Araku Valley by engaging them in coffee cultivation and production.
One could even go on to say that it was the hard work and commitment of the tribal farmers that laid the foundation for the coffee grown in the Araku Valley to thrive this well, and it is indeed wonderful to know that it has now acquired a global identity and won an extremely prestigious award.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)