South India Coffee Company is a direct trade house started in 2017 by husband and wife coffee farmer duo Akshay Dashrath and Komal Sable.Having spent a significant amount of time in Europe for the last 12 years, we realised that Indian Coffees are underrated and under-represented. Hence, Initially we started working with farms owned by family and friends to produce and source very high quality coffee. Our goal is to transparently connect different areas of the supply chain, while making sure that the grower gets the best price for their coffee. We are proud of our transparency (supply chain), ethics (fair prices), and focus on sustainable (shade grown) Indian coffee growers.
Coffee has been sustainably grown in India since the 1600’s. We are 5th generation coffee planters from Coorg, one of the oldest coffee growing regions in India. Our motivation comes from producing/ processing high quality indian coffee, improving processing of our own coffees and educating other growers who are interested in processing specialty coffee or working with us. This year we will be working with smallholder growers to help them with processing techniques, which will ensure better prices for their coffees.
Our coffees have complete traceability with respect to where the coffee originates. We provide the estate name, producer name, block name (where available) the history behind the estate, as well as each coffee processing technique, type of shade trees available, wildlife and birdlife information when available. We make it a point to work with farms that have similar values to ours. We are in a unique position to be able to trace and externalise the coffee's journey, as a grower and exporter at origin (India) and an importer in the UK until it finally reaches the roaster.
Most Indian coffees are shade grown. Our estate Mooleh Manay & Kanbile have a number of native and jungle trees which are over a few hundred years old, which makes us avian friendly with over a 100 different species of bird life, we make it a point to plant at least 50 indigenous jungle trees year on year. Post monsoons we get the most beautiful spiders in the estate and just next to our home we have flying foxes roosting (very large fruit bats). We have quite a high degree of shade coverage of 60-80% which can be detrimental to production but it does help keep the average temperature lower. Quite a few of these trees are wild fig and jackfruit which provide sustenance to the bird life and animal life. We’ve got wild boar, barking deer, palm civet, mongoose, rabbit etc with the occasional elephants visiting our estate. The other parts of Kanbile also have Indian Bison (Gaur) and we have a strict no-hunting policy to protect the animals. In order to successfully and sustainably cultivate coffee (or anything in the region as a matter of fact) into the future we believe there has to be balance between nature and human cultivation and we try to ensure we are as environmentally friendly as possible.
South India Coffee Company Ltd (UK) is also a member of the 1% for the Planet initiative, which means whether we make a profit or not 1% of our yearly revenue will go towards environmental causes.
Ethical coffee starts with a fair price paid for the green beans. What is a fair price? We believe a fair price is a price that reflects the cost of cultivation of the coffee in that region (taking into consideration any additional effort during harvest and processing) plus a percentage of profit for the grower (like you’d expect from any business). We believe in the long run, pricing coffee or basing price off the commodity price is detrimental to farmers, but the “C” price is something we need to live with until the system changes. This year for example we paid growers between 25%-40% more than the base Indian Coffee Commodity price based primarily on their processing techniques and cupping feedback (The Indian “C” price was higher than the international market). Our aim was not just to incentivise growers with higher prices for better cupping coffees, but we incentivised experimentation. Experimentation with harvesting and processing techniques, we believe, is very very important. This type of experimentation will help the industry as a whole move to better practices, making the coffee industry more economically sustainable.
Indian coffee farmers are heavily dependent on the labour force, most tasks are done by hand with little to no mechanisation on most farms. This also means that at times there are possibilities of exploitation of the labour force. We believe that to some extent Economic sustainability will have a positive impact on Social Sustainability however at South India Coffee Company (India) we’ve worked with a local NGO to provide hearing aid to children. At Mooleh Manay Estate we’ve provided laptops and cell phones to children who have been forced to study from home due to the COVID crisis, In 2020-2021 we’ve also invested in building modern housing for the labour force and are encouraging upskilling of labour in speciality processing techniques, management skills etc.