Sethuraman Estate featured in Hindu Business Line

Business Line

Sethuraman Estates and Kaapi Royale Coffee Managing Partner Nishant Gurjer was featured earlier this week in an interview for the Hindu Business Line in the article “Estate-branded Coffee Enters the US Market.” Specialty coffee estate branding is a topic of particular interest within India, having only relatively recently been opened to direct trade.

‘Estate-branded’ coffee enters US market
by Anil Urs

Sethuraman Estates, coffee plantation company based in Chikmagalur and focusing on ‘single-origin, estate-branded’ coffees, has managed to break into the United States coffee market by selling 7.5 containers (about 135 tonnes) of washed robustas directly, and also through exporters.

The US, traditionally arabica-consuming country, has begun to replace part of the robusta coffees sourced from various countries for their blends.

Washed robusta coffee has begun to get a toehold in the lucrative US market. Earlier, Indian robusta faced an uphill task to get the US roasters’ attention. Due to this, only sporadic amounts of coffee were being exported.

“We entered the US market in 2006 by participating in the Specialty Coffee Association of America event. Then we exported two containers (36 tonnes), again in 2008 we doubled it to four containers (72 tonnes). Today in 2010, we have reached 7.5 containers level (135 tonnes), said Mr Nishant R Gurjer, Managing Partner, Sethuraman Estates.

“Our participation in the specialty coffee expo in America helped us gain entry. Before that, we were exporting only small amounts,” he added.

Sethuraman Estates, located at Magundi in Chikmagalur, began its operations in 1950s with an aim of producing good quality Robusta coffees. In the US market, the company is marketing estate-branded coffees – the Sitara Parchment Robusta and the Ne Plus Ultra of Robusta coffee brands.

“To suit the US market, we focussed on the preparation and attention to details in the coffee processing, backed by shade trees under the arecanut and coconut trees wrapped in pepper vines. The coffees are hand-harvested and sorted. The beans are then pulped, naturally fermented, double-washed, and then patio-dried,” pointed out Mr Gurjer.

The ‘single-origin estate-branded’ coffee of Sethuram Estates fetches a premium of 30 per cent over what is traded in the domestic Indian market. Robusta coffees in the domestic market are currently traded at around Rs 90,000 a tonne.

According to the Coffee Board, as on September 16, exports of different forms of coffees such as instant and bulk forms of both Arabica and Robusta from India to the US market this calendar was 5,116.2 tonnes or 2.46 per cent of the total Indian coffee exports.

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