First prelims of the Coffee Board’s prestigious annual competition, the National Barista Championship 2016, is being held at the Delhi Institute of Hotel Management in New Delhi today.

The Coffee Board of India took up the initiative of organizing the National Barista Championship from the year 2014 onwards, and this is the 3rd year of competition. This competition is framed to identify the technically skilled and best Baristas in this profession. The game mainly focuses on promoting excellence in the coffee value chain, strengthen and encourage skill development, and also to encourage café culture in India.

Dr. Aarti Dewan Gupta, Director of Finance, Coffee Board, while inaugurating the NBC event, said that the coffee industry in India has evolved over the last decade with café culture penetrating our urban lifestyles. The Indian consumer has also become discerning; thus, the role of a barista assumes greater importance. Coffee Board of India is committed to bringing in professionalism and expertise in this field.

Dr. K Basavaraj, Head, Coffee Quality, Coffee Board, while welcoming the participants, elaborated the way of conducting of the competition and said that the game is being held in three stages – the First prelim at New Delhi, the Second prelim at Bangalore and the Finals at Mumbai coinciding with the India International Festival 2016. He further said that there would be a total of seven categories to be won by the contestants. They are Platinum, Gold, Silver, Bronze, Best Signature Drink, Best Latte Art, and Best Communication skills. The competition was conducted as per the World Barista Championship rules and regulations. The winner will represent India in the World Barista Championship at Dublin, Ireland, in June 2016.

There is an overwhelming response from the industry, and as many as 17 participants registered for the First prelims of the NBC championship being held here in New Delhi.

Beekeeping increases yield of Robusta coffee


Robusta coffee


About one-third of plant products including Robusta coffee, consumed by human beings are directly or indirectly dependent on bee pollination. The great value of bees as pollinators of coffee plants has been known for many years, but unfortunately, this knowledge is not widely applied in increasing production.

Yield issues are normally addressed by measures of soil fertility, agrochemicals, management of pests/diseases, and better field management practices. The scientific literature supporting the benefits of bee pollination for coffee is convincing. It may increase the yield of Robusta coffee up to 83% as per the data published by the Central Bee Research & Training Institute, Pune.

The majority of coffee species are diploid and self infertile and therefore have to be cross-pollinated by wind and insects for better yield whereas C.arabica is tetraploid, self-fertile and at times cleistogamous, so relies less on cross-pollination but it is observed that bee pollination, in general, enhances quantity and quality of yield. In many parts of the North Eastern Region, Robusta coffee variety is recommended due to climatic compulsions of low elevation and high temperature.

Managed pollinators, e.g. honeybees in the Coffee plantations in this region may be a change agent on increasing yield and produce honey as an additional income generating source for the upcoming tribal farmers. This is proved by one of the tribal coffee grower Sri W.D.Shira in Rongbilbangre village of West Garo Hills, Meghalaya through his practical experience without any scientific background knowledge as such.

History of Robusta coffee in India

Sri W. D.Shira, retired army personnel returned to his native village Rongbillbangre, which is about 16km from Tura town, with a vision of doing something which will be model for his poor villagers for development. He started plantation activity with Areca and Cashew nuts initially and later switched over to coffee plantation during 1997-98. Under the shade of Areca plantation, he planted both Arabica & Robusta varieties of coffee in 1.0 hectares of land.

The Coffee Board had also extended technical guidance and financial assistance to him. In due course of time, during 2003-04 he further extended this coffee area by adding another 1.5 hectares, planted with CXR variety, under the shade of various horticultural plants viz. Orange, Jackfruit, Pineapple, Citrus, Mango, Guava, etc. Presently he is holding 8.0 hectares of Robusta coffee area, of which 06.0hectare is in the bearing stage. Next to his plot 2.0-hectare area of coffee has been created by his wife which has a 1.0-hectare bearing area.

Robusta coffee beans

Last year, he attended a training program on beekeeping, arranged by one NGO, and acquired knowledge and started his apiary activity with ten bee boxes inside the coffee plantation. Mr Shira assembled the boxes by himself and Apisceranaindica, the bee species available locally was introduced. Observing the initial success, he is now planning to increase the number of bee boxes.

Wild bees or other pollinating insects were common in the coffee plantations raised by Mr Shira, due to the proximity to forest patches but there was a problem of uncertainty, resulting in delayed and less fruiting in earlier years and also leading to harvesting problems due to asynchronous ripening of berries thus affecting quality.

The present experience points out that the coffee plants in the beekeeping areas bloom together because of frequent visits of bees. The fruiting is more as bees are better pollinating agents. Unlike earlier years when unripe berries had to be discarded or used as inferior coffee, and required post-harvest sorting at extra labour cost, the planter is surprised to experience the harvesting of ripe berries at the same time.

The Robusta coffee planters in these areas never use any chemical fertilizer because of government restrictions as well as non-availability. As the soil of this plantation is in the earlier jhumarea, the fertility status is low, so the yield was comparatively less, but the present yield increased by about 50% which has surprised the grower. Inspired by the result, he intends to take up this effort of beekeeping inside coffee plantation vigorously so that the other coffee growers of the nearby areas can emulate him.

Thus beekeeping in coffee plantation improves yields in quantity and quality and may improve synchronicity and uniformity of fruit-set, reducing harvesting and sorting cost. This effort initiated by a small tribal farmer allows us to develop an integrated system of pollinator management by beekeeping to enhance coffee production in the NE Region through better, more synchronous pollination. This is also an effective step towards the production of organic Robusta coffee. This approach may indirectly influence in enhancing the production of other crops and honey.

Dyed in Coffee

A slip of the cup and the lip and we end up having a coffee stain on our favorite salwars, best office pants, expensive silk saree; the garment perhaps will never regain its original glory. The archenemy of many a homemaker in India, the coffee stain is dreaded. But, what if the coffee stain can be flaunted and created into an Art!

If you are thinking of ephemeral Latte Art, made by a Barista when you order a Cappuccino or a Latte at a Cafe, you are way off the mark. I actually mean wearing and displaying coffee in a more permanent status.

Malaa Treon, a textile artist from Pune who believes that art should be displayed through every medium possible including the human body through artistic attires, has researched and created a way through which coffee can be worn, displayed, and shown off on clothing and accessories. A germ of this idea originated when she interacted with Mrs. Sunalini Menon, CEO, Coffeelab who suggested if coffee could be used as a medium for creating art on fabric.

Malaa’s research and development with coffee over the past couple of years have been extensive with many misses and some successes. Malaa believes in using natural fabric and therefore her mediums have been natural fibers like cotton, wool, and silk. She shared her experiences with coffee at the India International Coffee Festival 2014, through a workshop titled Coffee Art on Silk.

If the stubborn coffee stain is any standard to go by, then coffee should be a strong and clinging dye. But Malaa’s experiences have been different; coffee and water do not even create any lasting effect on fabric and resulted is being washed off. So her experiments became more varied and complex.

Her extensive trials with different blends, concentrate, roasts resulted in the realization that since coffee is an elusive dye, the highest concentration of coffee decoction with the darkest roast would be the best possible solution for the fabric to absorb and retain.

While just a simple soaking process was not much of a success, Malaa tried steaming the fabric in coffee decoction which is a standard procedure in dying fabric. This was successful and coffee clung to the fabric. Out of the 3 fabrics used as a medium; silk and wool were successful, but cotton failed to give satisfactory results. She says that her personal favorite for coffee is silk and she continued to work with it.

Although steaming was successful in dying silk with coffee, creating art and designs on the dyed fabric was a different challenge altogether. Gum Arabic proved to be a savior to create the design. While Gum Arabic, water, and coffee decoction die not to give very profound effect, only gum Arabic and coffee decoction resulted in creating beautiful and impressive designs.

While sharing her results with the attendees at the workshop Malaa demonstrated the technique and allowed them to try their hand at creating coffee art on fabric.

It takes a determined person with perseverance to work with an elusive component such as coffee, but her passion for coffee is an ongoing process and she promises to experiment with the bean to create new processes, better consistencies, and new possibilities. India is well known for both coffee and silk and here is a thought for industry pundits – product differentiation by marrying silk and coffee?