Tata Coffee kicks off roasting unit to supply beans to Starbucks

Vinay Kamath Kushalnagar | Updated on February 08, 2013

Brewing anew: John Culver, President, Starbucks Coffee China and Asia Pacific, inaugurates the roasting and packaging plant in Kushalnagar, Karnataka.

New unit to supply beans to Starbucks coffee chain in India, abroad

Starbucks Coffee and the Tata group, which have aligned to bring the iconic coffee brand to India, deepened their relationship by inaugurating a 375 tonnes a year roasting and packaging unit at Kushalnagar in Kodagu district of Karnataka.

This roasting unit, said John Culver, President, Starbucks Coffee, China and Asia-Pacific, is already supplying coffee beans to the seven Starbucks stores which have opened in India — four in Mumbai and three in Delhi.

The roastery for Arabica coffee, which cost Rs 4 crore to set up, will step up its production as Starbucks scales up its stores in India.

However, Culver refrained from saying how many stores will come up and in what timeframe. Eventually, this unit will also take Indian coffee beans to other markets around the world, he added.

“Starbucks along with the Tatas will elevate the story of the Indian coffee farmer. We see India as a huge opportunity and we expect to see it among the top five markets for Starbucks around the world,” Culver said.

However, he did not give a timeframe. The top five markets for the coffee brand are the US, Canada, Japan, the UK and China.

Starbucks, he said, buys three per cent of the top Arabica coffee beans sold in the world. It sources its coffee beans from over 30 markets around the world.

Hameed Huq, Managing Director, Tata Coffee, along with Culver, speaking to the media after the unit’s inauguration, said the roaster was a culmination of two years of work.

The company had been working closely with Starbucks in harvesting and processing techniques to improve the quality of the bean. Tata Coffee has been supplying to Starbucks since 2004.

Huq said that this alliance will also help the cause of the small coffee growers, who comprise 98 per cent of the coffee growing community.

Starbucks, said Culver, pays, on an average more than the market price to farmers and this will incentivise small farmers to grow a better quality of Arabica to supply to the alliance.

“We want to make sure that the coffee farmers benefit,” added Culver, saying this is a policy that it follows all around the world.

Café Practices

Culver said Starbucks has a farmer development programme called Café Practices, where it will work closely with farmers to harvest and also improve the overall yield at farms. It will roll this out for local farmers as well.  

The new roasting unit also has an automatic filling and sealing line with high precision testing equipment and a pneumatic logic controlled green coffee handling system for effective control of recipe.

Published on February 08, 2013

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