Nepali Times
Branded brew



Last week, Nepali coffee producers celebrated the registration of the official trademark of Nepali organic coffee. The Department of Industry granted the trademark after the Nepal Tea and Coffee Development Board (NTCDB) applied in May 2007. Organic coffee grown in Nepal will now be known as 'The Himalayan Specialty Nepal Coffee'.

"This trademark will assure international buyers that the coffee is organic and has been produced in Nepal," says Binay Kumar Mishra, executive director of NTCDB. The trademark will also standardise and
guarantee the quality of Nepal-grown
coffee. The process of certifying 10 Nepali coffee producers with the trademark has already begun.
Commercial farming of coffee in Nepal started in 1976, but the market finally began to pick up in the last decade. Only the highland Arabica variety is produced in Nepal. At present, 1,630 hectares of land are used for coffee farming, spread over at least 23 districts, including Syangjha, Gulmi, Palpa, Kaski, Tanahun and Baglung.

The industry employs 25,000 farmers and this year, total coffee production amounted to 334 tonnes, up from 265 tonnes in the last fiscal year. "The coffee produced here is called specialty coffee because it fulfills certain standards," says Shyam Prasad Bhandari, Chairman of Nepal Coffee Association. "Our coffee is grown above an altitude of 800 metres, is farmed in the shade, and is organic."

Nepali coffee has done well on the international market because of the taste these criteria add to a brew. This year, out of total production, 120 tonnes of coffee were exported. The trademark is expected to boost this figure. Nepali coffee is already finding a niche in the US, Japan, Korea, Germany, Netherlands and Canada, and from this year on, exports have been extended to the Gulf countries. According to Bhandari, Nepali coffee ranked second among 80 coffee producers in a recent grading exercise in Germany.

Unlike most Nepali export industries, the coffee industry here does not need to import any of its raw materials, except for jute bags for packaging, which are sometimes not available locally. This means that all of the revenue earned through coffee export and sales goes into the pockets of Nepali producers and farmers.

The industry has also been encouraged by domestic demand. Local coffee culture has grown over the years, demonstrated, for example, by the coffee shops popping up here and there across the Kathmandu Valley. "When we started selling coffee 27 years ago, it was difficult to sell even a tonne in the Nepali market," says Krishna Ghimire, Chairman of Highland Coffee Company. "Now we sell over 50 tonnes a year."

Coffee producers here are now lobbying to register the trademark internationally. For the time being, Nepal is just an observer member in the International Coffee Organization, but membership will facilitate access of Nepali coffee to wider markets. For those who don't get the Nepali love of chiya, something else is brewing.

Nepali brews
Local boys to look out for:

Johnny Gurkha Blend Coffee
Annapurna Organic Coffee
Royal Everest Coffee
Jalpa Gold
Morning Fresh Coffee
Himalayan Arabica Coffee
Him Café
Buddha Organic Coffee
Lalitpur Organic Coffee

COFFEE LIFE: Royal Everest Coffee Mill in Thimi, where pulped cherries are brought from local coffee farms. First, coffee beans are dried. They are then hulled, polished, cleaned, and sorted by a machine. The final round of sorting and grading is done by hand before the beans are packaged.

Leveraging Brand Buddha, ARTHA BEED
Coffee, tea and we, DANIEL HABER in KABHRE
In one's (coffee) cups

1. Koji
I think Mr Bhandari is misleading the world calling all of this coffee 'speciality coffee'. 

"The coffee produced here is called specialty coffee because it fulfills certain standards," says Shyam Prasad Bhandari, Chairman of Nepal Coffee Association. "Our coffee is grown above an altitude of 800 metres, is farmed in the shade, and is organic."

Yes the situation in where coffee grows is important. However, it is the end result which is ultimately important. The statement "This wine was grown in France in perfect growing conditions" does not mean that it won't taste like feline urine. Speciality coffee makes up less that 10% of all coffee grown in the world. Some of Nepal's coffee is good, but until there is a little more sophistication that comes from experience and the desire to reach perfection, Nepal will only be selling speciality coffee in the minutest quantities and be stuck in the commodity market - Mr Bhandari will not fool the professional tasters. 

"Specialty coffees are differentiated from regular coffee by their particularly good flavor. Flavor is the simultaneous sensation in the palate of aroma, taste and body stemming from the highly complex chemical composition of coffee (Lingle, 2001). Coffee flavor is assessed through cupping which is the evaluation of the sensory effects of the basic stimulations of coffee aroma,
taste and body. Describing quality and creating connoisseurship is the key to differentiating coffee and creating value in the specialty industry. "

Coffee quality ratings based on the product�s sensory attributes as an instrument of product differentiation and its implications on market segmentation and price signal to producers.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)