Give me a coffee break!

By KG Suresh | Updated: Apr 14, 2012, 14:37 PM IST

Starbucks, the largest coffeehouse company in the world, recently announced a tie up with Tata Global Beverages Ltd to “harness the vast potential of the hot beverage market” in India. <br><br>
The partners have decided to open 50 cafes in several Indian cities in 2012 beginning with Delhi and Mumbai. <br><br>
Among other things, Starbucks sells drip brewed coffee, espresso-based hot drinks, other hot and cold drinks, coffee beans, salads, hot and cold sandwiches, pastries, snacks, and items such as mugs and tumblers. <br><br>
With western coffee cafes becoming increasingly popular in India with the country's young population, Starbucks cafes will compete with Costa Coffee, Cafe Coffee Day and Barista in India. Together these players control a coffee cafe market estimated at over Rs.700 crore a year. <br><br>
While these trendy, upmarket coffee outlets may be a new phenomenon, not many know that India has a long history and culture of coffee consumption. In fact, India is the sixth largest producer of coffee in the world, accounting for over four percent of world coffee production, with the bulk of all production taking place in its Southern states. India is most noted for its Indian Kathlekhan Superior variety. It is believed that coffee has been cultivated in India longer than anywhere outside of the Arabian Peninsula. <br><br>
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In southern India, coffee is a part and parcel of daily life much like the ubiquitous ‘chai’ in the northern parts. South Indian Coffee, also known as Filter Coffee is a sweet milky coffee made from dark roasted coffee beans (70%-80%) and chicory (20%-30%). <br><br>
Initially, coffee was cultivated exclusively in the Arabian Peninsula. To maintain this monopoly on coffee production, the Arabians forbade the export of coffee beans. However, in the 17th century, Baba Budan, an Indian pilgrim to Mecca, is believed to have smuggled seven coffee beans back home to India, which he planted in the Mysore region, thereby establishing the first coffee plantation in India. By 1840, under the British rule, India began to grow coffee for export. <br><br>
But is not only in coffee production, rather also in its preparation that the Indians are doing extremely well. <br><br>
Manisha Chettri, a young captain from the Delhi-based Le Meridien hotel’s food and beverage services recently won the grand prize at the ‘Taste of Discovery Coffee Challenge 2011’ held at Trieste, Italy on November 10, 2011. The challenge is Le Méridien’s version of the World Barista Championship. <br><br>

The Siliguri-born Nepali speaking Manisha beat contestants from ten different Le Meridien properties across the globe to earn the title of a qualified barista and also bag the prestigious grand prize. The competition sought to bring out the best preparations of coffee- espresso, cappuccino and one freestyle beverage-all prepared with Illy coffee and judged by eminent sensory judges from the famous Universita del Caffe (University of Coffee)in Trieste, a head judge and Fritz Storm, LM100™ Member and Master Barista. <br><br>

Manisha’s award winning signature recipe will be launched at Le Méridien’s 40th anniversary celebrations worldwide and the top three winning recipes will be made available to all Le Méridien hotels and resorts across the globe. Manisha’s win is certain to encourage women baristas in the country to spread the culture of quality coffee, in India and worldwide. <br><br>
From reduced risk of Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson’s disease, Dementia and gallstone disease to prevention of dental caries, the votaries of coffee have been tom-tomming the benefits of the beverage no end but even its die hard critics wont mind an occasional coffee break – whether it be South Indian filter or Starbucks, Nescafe or Manisha Chettri’s recipe.