By Sherri Johns
Exhibitors and visitors at Tea & Coffee World Cup/Asia 2008 held November 20 - 22, 2008 at Hitex Exhibition Center in Hyderabad, India found the coffee sector of the a rewarding and energizing experience. The show floor literally buzzed around the array of coffee and tea booths, activities, workshops, lectures and receptions, which included cupping, barista training, and informative lectures by several industry experts.
Globally, India presents a tremendous opportunity for the coffee sector, as export quality increases and more specialty roasters begin to look upon India as an integral ingredient in their specialty coffee line up, India is also hosts the fastest growing middle class in the world. India sees benefits in growing the internal consumption of specialty coffee as well as increasing quality exports. Of course, tea is the most known and widely consumed beverage of India, but coffee is close behind and coffee houses are gleaning loyal customers willing to pay for quality.
As with all expositions, there are busy days and slower days. Both have merits. Busier days tend to go by fast with the hustle and bustle of booth visitors, existing clients and potential new ones. There are those simply looking to learn about the company and what it does and those interested in tasting products and those interested in building relationships. This exhibition offered something for everyone.
Araku Emerald, a group of small tribal coffee farmers in the Araku Valley, near Vishakapatnum, exhibited for the first time. The booth was decorated with local artifacts telling the story of the cooperative and the region. Several of the small farmers attending the exhibition were intrigued by the experience.
For some it was the first time they had been out of their region at all. It was a brave new world for them. Not until the cupping session lead by Sunalini Menon, which several attended, did the group seem to relax. It seemed their coffee was truly their comfort and enjoyed by all.
As I spoke with a representative from the Naandi Foundation at the booth, who helped organize their participation, I was truly impressed with the level of commitment, the qualities of these fine coffees and the team work of the group to represent not only the delightful organic coffees but the people behind the cup. Job well done.
The BUNN booth, managed by C.C. Tan, regional director, offered the latest innovations in brewing and dispensing equipment. It took several visits the booth to even sit down with 'C.C.' as BUNN was very popular. The hypnotic granita machine filled with fruit flavored iced beverages drew attendees like moths to the flame. In India, where summertime temperatures dwell in the upper 80?Fahrenheit to over 100?in May and June, one can imagine the cooling effect a granita would have. The iced tea brewer brought as much attention.
"It was not a big exhibition, and it was our first time exhibiting. I came here with an open mind not knowing exactly what to expect," offered Tan when asked about his views on the World Cup exhibition. "It has been a very good response." Just then CC jumps to speak with two attendees who have wandered into the double booth. He returns minutes later and continues: "Especially the ice tea machine. The first two days of the exhibition were overwhelming. I talked until my throat hurt". For many attendees, it was the first time to see BUNN equipment.
"We've had many cafes come to the booth and say, 'I love this machine'". He proceeds to explain if the caf?or restaurant can sell 300 drinks a day, the investment will be returned in a short two months.
"The Granita machine has also been a first time product for India," CC stated confidently. "These products will sell here. Especially the ice tea machine." Then a look of inquiry from another visitor turns into another business opportunity for CC.
"I've been to many exhibitions and this show's interest is overwhelming," he adds, then he smiles, jumps to his feet and dashes off once more.
Lots of interest
Urs Brunner, of Boncaf?recaps the number of countries he has exhibited at including Shanghai, Singapore and Vienna. Now in Hyderabad, India, he offers a wise perspective on global branding, products and industry know-how.
"This is a smaller show, however, very qualified attendees," Brunner said. "This is my second visit to India, lots of interest in office service, espresso, coffee and machines. I believe we talked to out target customers here. We will have to see how real and what becomes of it. For us, we concentrate on building relationships."
Boncaf?has been vital to branding and growing the specialty market in Thailand sponsoring a barista school and several coffee events to grow the local market and educate all those interested in coffee. Boncafe is brewed and served in several fine dining and upscale hotels such as the Taj.
"We can offer full support in machines, beans and knowledge," Brunner said. "Local fine dining is growing as are coffee shop chains." He is happily animated and excited as he further explains "The growth potential is tremendous in India. Boncaf?is here to help. The potential customers here at the exhibit show confidence and interest in quality coffee and are keen to partner with an international brand with international exposure," Urs notes. Boncaf?booth featured a barista trainer from Boncaf?coffee academy.
Special events are always a welcome respite from the busy show floor. Sessions engaging in greater coffee knowledge were well received. It seems that many exhibitors as well as attendees value the sessions and enjoyed the exercises.
The perennial sold-out cupping session, led by Sunlini Menon, was a hit. Guiding us through several coffee estates, we cupped our way throughout the regions of India with a greater depth of understanding as to the varietal differences to India specialty coffee market.
For those of us who cup professionally, it was an enjoyable and enlightening experience. Twofold was the cupping session, each round of cupping, offered the producers, a few moments to share about his or her farm and introduce us to a glimpse into their lives. In the coffee world, it is not only about coffee, but also about people. And meeting several of the producers was quite a highlight.
Buhler, Buhler Sortex and Petroncini representatives joined together to offer total turnkey solutions to roasted and ground coffee, optical sorters and other distinguished equipment solutions and shared several booths at the show. The synergy of these companies was apparent as each expressed hope in the promising future of India.
"Very positive and surprised. There was good attendance," commented Guido H?gger, managing director, marketing and sales, when asked for his views on the Hyderabad World Cup."
" see the market growing from small to medium, then medium to large," added colleague J. Sunil Prasad, group manager - head of Sothern region sales in Bangalore. "This is a growing market with business going in the direction of manufacturing, so people are looking into large scale machines." This was the sentiment all around.
"Overall, a positive expo. We are here from Europe to show interest and support to our local office in Bangalore," H?gger explained. "This is a growing market for green coffee and new applications; new technology for berry bore finding and more. The market is small but growing; we are here for long term investment. We are the only company to give a total solution," he said, concluding that "Indian consumption is growing, this is an investment in our future and the future of India."
Energy and enthusiasm
The last time I saw Vikram Khurana, c.e.o. of Kaapi Machines pvt Ltd, he was was slinging shots of espresso to four very finicky world barista championship judges (I was one of them) in Oslo. It is a pleasure to see how he has grown over the past few years with his own business. Who better to teach a barista class in India then the former national champion? On Astoria/CMA machines, Vikram led attendees through a series of exercises in the perfect espresso, texturing steamed milk, preparing delicious cappuccinos and how to care for your espresso machine. His energy, knowledge and enthusiasm was welcomed by show management and attendees alike. Good job!
Coffee and pearls
Tata Coffee, the largest integrated coffee plantation company in the world, offered the seed-to-cup experience in its booth. Tata grows coffee on its own estates, processes the beans, exports and roasts locally, and provides a branded retail concept for the local market to enjoy. They too have seen and responded to the growth in local consumption and demand for increased quality.
One exhibitor who did not fit into the tea or coffee category saw a diverse group of customers and sales. Hyderabad, India, is famous for pearls and many of us, including yours truly, dropped by to select a necklace, bracelet or earrings to compliment and remind us of how lovely India is and what a diverse, rich opportunity the country holds for all of us who attended World Cup.
See you next time.