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AIC – CCRI – Centre for Entrepreneurship Development which is a business incubator of the Coffee Board of India  has created the Product Development Lab for incubatees to use the advanced equipment to develop coffee products, validate them, conform source of procurement, test the product and be able to demonstrate its quality standards to their clientele.

The launch event for the lab was organized on the International Coffee Day which is observed annually on October 1 and it will be part of the upcoming Incubation Center in the Coffee Board of India in Bengaluru.

The  lab usage is based on booking the equipment for specific timing by the incubatees, according to AIC – CCRI – CED. At any given point of time about 6 people can work on various equipment for different aspects such as hulling, grading, roasting, grinding, coffee cupping, barista preparation etc. The Lab will be focusing on coffee and coffee based products. It is similar to the Coffee Quality Lab in the Coffee Board. However, this will be first coffee product development lab in an incubation setup and it is available for incubatee’s use, stated AIC – CCRI – CED.

Atal Innovation Mission of the Niti Aayog has been providing the funds for the lab. The PDL is part of the larger 10,000 sqft incubation facility which is  located on the first floor in the Coffee Board head office in Bengaluru.

As part of the initiative, Aarohana, a programme for accelerated development of secondary processing based coffee entrepreneurs designed by AIC – CCRI – CED titled ‘Kappi Shastra’, will train candidates in incubation for a fee of Rs 20,000 for six months.

Coffee being an export-oriented crop with lesser domestic consumption, most of the coffee is exported in green bean form. Although there is a substantial quantum which is exported & re-exported as instant coffee, yet much of the value addition is taken up in the importing country. However due to the rise in the awareness about quality coffee in the domestic market, focus on quality has increased. Focus on specialty, artisanal, single origin coffee has increased, noted AIC – CCRI – CED.
However, there is still a lot of room for developing the roasting & grinding skill base of coffee and further value addition of coffee and its by-products, added AIC – CCRI – CED.

The key trends which will drive the coffee-based innovation will be through: improving coffee production practices and focus on sustainable coffee and organic coffee. There is also specialty processing at the farm level. Yet another is the awareness of the special features and quality of the Indian coffees, GI tag based coffees and international exposure of quality.

The challenges encountered during coffee product development are lack of advanced skills in cupping, roasting and barista preparation compared to the developed nations.  There is also a lower level of consumption of coffee in domestic level, thus making the product development for Indian conditions difficult. There are no reliable consumption patterns.

Consistent supply for same quality beans, which is variation, may occur due to various factors like climate changes, natural calamities, irrigation, package of practices, shade crops, processing and storage is another issue. There is also a hassle in finding reliable export markets and tuning the supply chain for consistent supply for the international markets.

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