India and China are developing some thaw in coffee sector. A sign of that can be perceived from the visit of some members of the Specialty Coffee Association of Hong Kong to the India International Coffee Festival 2007 (IICF 2007) in Bangalore.
They are here to explore the possibility of sourcing Indian specialty coffee beans like Monsoon Malabar, Mysore Nuggets Extra Bold and Robusta Kaapi Royale.
Members of the Specialty Coffee Association of Europe (SCAE) and its counterparts in Australia and Singapore will also be here to firm up previous years' imports of Indian specialty coffees.
Specialty coffees are certified not by the sellers but by reputed international agencies for their uniqueness in quality on a consistent basis by meeting the most stringent product and process requirements in tune with the overall objective of protecting the environment and providing fair wages.
That is why when the best of conventional beans are exported at $2 a kg, specialty coffees fetch twice the price.
Specialty Coffee Association of India (SCAI) officials say India's exports of this exclusive coffee beans have grown from 2,700 tonnes in 1996 to 7,500 tonnes in 2006.
While China is essentially a tea-drinking nation, it is perceived as a potential big emerging market for conventional and specialty coffee beans, considering that country's rapid economic growth and the rising levels of affluence.
Apart from the renewed interest shown by Australia, the presence at IICF 2007 of 12 SCAE delegates from Norway, which has the world's highest per capita coffee consumption, will give a further fillip to exports of Indian specialty coffee beans.
However, specialty coffees accounted for just 7,500 tonnes out of the 2,25,000 tonnes exported from India in 2006.
The process of adding value to conventional coffee beans will be facilitated through the interaction at IICF 2007 between Indian growers, exporters and some of the world's leading roasters and cafe-chains.
Present at IICF will be Illycafe, Lavazza and Starbucks who had sent a quality-assessment team to India in the last week of January.