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From bean to barista - coffee researcher Anisha Kumari on coffee entrepreneurship and opportunities for women >

by Team [August 07, 2023]

Leading up to the World Coffee Conference and Exhibition in Bangalore in September, the platform presents more activities and insights into the coffee opportunity.

Anisha Kumari is Assistant Manager, Beverage Innovation, at leading coffee chain Cafe Coffee Day, and was earlier part of the quality team at Hatti Kaapi. She is an expert in beverage development, portfolio management, product quality, market research, brand positioning, and management training.

Anisha leads dynamic cross-functional teams with a passion for creativity and innovation. She studied at BITS Mesra and Coffee Board of India, specialising in food technology and processing. She recently conducted a coffee experience session at Starbucks (Vittal Mallya Road), Bangalore, along with Ajay Redij, a Q Arabica Grader professional coffee taster (see our writeup here).

Anisha joins us in this chat on trends in the B2B and B2C coffee markets, entrepreneurship opportunities for women, and the upcoming World Coffee Conference and Exhibition.

To get involved in the coffee movement, please email us at Tell us about your work with R&D in coffee! What was your passion, and your professional path to get to this position?

Anisha Kumari: As an R&D manager in a coffee chain, my passion is discovering the limitless potential of beverage innovation. In my current position, I am completely devoted to improving coffee processes and products, continuously looking for fresh approaches to develop new blends, flavors, and formats that adapt to shifting customer tastes and market trends.

Market research is a crucial aspect of my job, as it allows me to stay ahead of the curve by closely monitoring market trends, understanding consumer behaviour, and keeping a keen eye on our competitors' activities. With the help of this insightful information, I am better able to see possibilities and match the broad business goals of our organisation with the product development methodologies we use.

My professional fervor is stoked by the potential of developing new goods, and the delicate but adaptable essence of coffee inspires me to constantly venture outside the bounds of conventional cuisine. By embracing this zeal, I aim to have a significant effect on the coffee industry by presenting creative combinations that redefine coffee experiences. How do you see the B2B and B2C coffee markets in India evolving and changing? What are some business shifts here?

Anisha Kumari: India's business-to-business and business-to-consumer coffee sectors were both changing and evolving noticeably. It is important to recognise the industry's intrinsic dynamism because it constantly adopts new ideas and advancements. Both markets were being shaped by a number of trends and shifts at the same time, which added to their changing environment.

Each “wave” in coffee culture represents a unique period of growth and transformation in how coffee is perceived, brewed, and consumed. This write-up delves into the three prominent waves that have shaped coffee culture over time.

B2B Coffee Market - 

B2C Coffee Market: You have created good coffee experiences for so many people – what has been your best experience so far?

Anisha Kumari: As a beverage innovator, my most rewarding experience has been transforming tea consumers into coffee fanatics. Seeing their awareness for coffee's intricacies and acceptance of alternate brews has been extremely satisfying!

In India, where milk-based goods are prevalent, the growing popularity of black coffee is an encouraging development. It gives me great pleasure to watch the rising coffee culture and the growing affection for this delectable beverage. What are the key challenges facing ‘coffee entrepreneurs’ today, and how can they be overcome?

Anisha Kumari: Today's coffee businesses face several significant obstacles that must be met with smart solutions. How can coffee hobbyists and startups effectively engage with the large coffee chains and brands?

Anisha Kumari: To start a proposition with any big brand, you need to comprehend brand dynamics, pinpoint important players, and determine their target market, and do detailed market research. You can efficiently position your goods and services using this knowledge, and you may also establish common ground for collaboration.

As entrepreneurs, you should then create a compelling and distinctive value proposition that distinguishes your coffee or goods from those of other vendors. Showcase the unique qualities of your products, such as their distinctive flavors, environmentally friendly production processes, or creative brewing techniques.

Negotiations with huge coffee chains could be drawn out and need a lot of time and effort. It is important to maintain a proactive, upbeat mindset throughout the process and be ready to make changes based on feedback.

Finally, develop a deep enthusiasm for coffee and an eagerness to work with well-known companies. Potential partners will respond well to your excitement and commitment to the field, increasing the chance of productive collaborations. What is the significance of the World Coffee Conference and Exhibition for India? What impacts will it have?

Anisha Kumari: The World Coffee Conference & Exhibition is extremely important to India because it strengthens its position as a nation that produces specialty coffee on a worldwide scale.

In order to increase public knowledge of Indian specialty coffees, distinctive flavor profiles, and different coffee regions, the exhibition component gives Indian coffee producers the chance to present their specialty coffees to a wide audience. Given the growing interest in specialty coffees throughout the world, this exposure may result in more demand for Indian coffee goods.

The conference and exhibition are an excellent platform for interaction with international coffee players, buyers, and investors for Indian coffee producers, exporters, and stakeholders. For the Indian coffee sector, this exposure may open up new export markets and commercial potential.

The event gives Indian coffee stakeholders the chance to network, collaborate, and form partnerships with international counterparts, enhancing market access, distribution channels, and technology transfer.

In addition, the conference's debates, seminars, and workshops on a variety of topics related to coffee production, processing, sustainability, and marketing provide Indian coffee producers and entrepreneurs with helpful insights. By promoting continual development and preserving competitiveness in the global market, this information exchange enables companies to keep abreast of the most recent trends, best practices, and innovations in the coffee industry. 

All things considered, the World Coffee Conference & Exhibition is crucial in putting India's Specialty coffee business on the map of the globe and encouraging development and cooperation within the international coffee community. Tell us about ‘latte art’ and other kinds of creative competitions in the coffee space!

Anisha Kumari: The World Barista Championship (WBC), run by the World Coffee Events (WCE), is the most prominent event or competition in the coffee industry.

Baristas from all around the world participate in a number of rounds where they must produce espressos, milk-based beverages, and specialty drinks for a judging panel. The judges evaluate the participants using several factors, such as taste, presentation, neatness, technical proficiency, and artistic ability.

Apart from the World Barista Championship, there are other specialty coffee competitions around the world that focus on different aspects of the coffee industry. What are some unique opportunities for women in the coffee business space?

Anisha Kumari: Women now have more chances than ever to actively participate in and contribute to the Indian coffee industry. There are several government programs for women entrepreneurs that give them financial assistance and incentives to establish or grow their firms.

Grants, low-interest loans, venture capital, or interest subsidies are all possible ways to get these funds. In the dynamic Indian coffee industry, women have found diverse opportunities to thrive and make a significant impact. What are the ethical challenges in the coffee industry (eg. fair trade, sustainability) and how can they be met?

Anisha Kumari: Coffee producers sometimes struggle to obtain an equitable price for their goods because of unstable market prices and intermediaries taking a substantial share of the earnings. Fair Trade and Fair Prices are only two of the industry's numerous ethical difficulties in India.

Through certifications like Fair Trade, which provide minimum pricing criteria and encourage equitable trading relationships, it is possible to guarantee fair trade practices and fair prices for coffee producers.

Sustainable farming and environmental impact: Unsustainable coffee production methods can impact the environment and biodiversity, including deforestation, excessive pesticide usage, and water waste. Promoting organic certifications, shade-grown coffee, sustainable agricultural practices, and biodiversity preservation aids in addressing these issues.

Water management: Water resources in the area may be strained due to the significant quantity of water needed for coffee manufacturing. This effect can be reduced by implementing water management techniques including water recycling and effective processing techniques.

Traceability and transparency: It is essential to provide supply chain transparency in order to validate claims about ethical behavior and sustainability. A customer can feel confident about the origin and ethical sourcing of their coffee by using blockchain technology and other traceability techniques that can assist monitor coffee beans from farm to cup.

Supporting innovation: Supporting research and innovation in sustainable coffee farming and processing can lead to more environmentally friendly and socially responsible practices. To wrap up, what is your message to the audience?

Anisha Kumari: As a coffee enthusiast, you should always appreciate the barista's work and conduct some research on the coffee to find out where your delight originated. The journey from coffee seed to cup has been amazing. Let’s come together to sip from the cup of knowledge and embrace the cultural richness of coffee.

With every sip, we can revitalise the spirit of education and wisdom in our nation. Cheers!