07 / 03 / 2017
After B2B in Japan, South Korea, Switzerland, Ireland in the last few years, Araku coffee this year achieved a historic milestone with the opening of Araku flagship store in the famed neighbourhood of Marais in Paris. The adivasis of the tribal area of Vizag, through this Araku brand are creating a dual honour for India. One that we can create the world’s best coffee! Two that organic agriculture is the answer to sustainability and climate change.
This story dates back to early 2000s where the adivasis in Araku lived on the fringes of progress that modern India had guaranteed its citizens. They had no access to education or healthcare. With little or no farming skills they lived on what the forests gifted them!
It was at this juncture that Naandi Foundation (‘Naandi’) stepped in. Since then, Naandi’s efforts in this region have been focused to build on the strengths of the adivasi community. An ‘inclusive household approach’ to development was followed in every sphere of Naandi’s activities. Apart from working with children (education & nutrition) and women (child birth & infant mortality), Naandi started an agricultural project using natural resource management techniques to convert semi-wastelands into organic coffee plantations. Even before David Hogg, a well-known authority on sustainable farming stepped into the picture, Naandi found that the tribals planted saplings according to the circadian rhythms.
A new coffee culture – the Araku culture was brewing!
Naandi nudged the farmers to form a co-operative – The Small & Marginal Tribal Farmers Mutually Aided Co-operative Society Limited in 2007 where the indigenous tribal farmers would take holistic decisions about their livelihoods. Healthy coffee bean production and picking were introduced. Coffee experts from Ireland, Japan, Korea and India were roped in. They averred the need of a Central Processing Unit which was set up to standardize quality of the coffee being produced. Naandi also undertook to transform the low-carbon landscape into a high-carbon bio-diverse landscape, improving food security & generating sustainable income for the community by planting 9 million fruit trees & coffee saplings. Eco-sustainability and sustainable agricultural practices improved the quality of the coffee year on year, which soon became a part of the Araku culture.
In 2008, a social enterprise named Araku Originals Limited (‘AOL’) was set up to market the world’s most uniquely grown & flavoured Arabica. More than the global financial market crisis, the global food crisis, served as the looking glass to mirror an opportunity to link small farmers to global markets. Niche coffee roasters from Japan, South Korea, Ireland, Switzerland, France flew down to buy Araku coffee at highest prices.
The unique ‘terroir’ & marginal parcels of coffee farms lead to logistical challenges which kept increasing the costs as AOL stressed on procuring the best quality coffee. The project reached a pivotal stage where the need was felt to valorize the margins to a level much higher than that of green coffee auctions. The answer was to move from a B2B model to a B2C model & retail Araku coffee in premium global markets so that the profits could be ploughed back to the farmers & reinvested in the region.
After 3 years of research, Paris, the gastronomical capital of the world was chosen as the first destination for Araku’s flagship store. A well-known European master-blender & roaster, Hippolyte Courty has been exclusively working as Araku’s coffeeologist in creating coffee profiles to suit global markets.
Araku’s flagship store was inaugurated on the 23rd of February 2017. Araku coffee is also being sold at La Grande Epicerie de Paris (owned by LVMH group), Publicis Drugstore and a few other high-end French concept stores. It is available all over Europe through Araku’s e-store- www.arakucoffee.com.
Mr. Anand Mahindra, Mr. Kris Gopalakrishnan, Mr. Satish Reddy & Mr. Rajendra Prasad Maganti have invested in this venture. The project is driven by Araku’s CEO & Co-founder, Manoj Kumar & his small team. Araku’s vision is to create a globally recognized luxury coffee brand from India that reflects the core values of a social enterprise by being ecologically sustainable, focusing on supporting small producers and adding value to create the ultimate experience for global consumers. We believe in doing well, while also doing good for the community!
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