India is a country known in North American circles mostly for its quality teas, such as Darjeeling and Assam. India, however, has grown coffee in commercial quantities for well over 160 years.
Today, India is the sixth-largest producer of coffee in the world, ahead of many better-known origins such as Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Kenya. Even more surprising is the fact that, in recent years, India has exported more coffee than tea.
- Does India Export More Coffee or Tea? (blog post)
Much of India’s coffee is shipped to Europe, Japan, and the Middle East, where Indian coffees have always commanded a premium price. Given India’s reputation as a producer of “espresso friendly” coffee beans, it should come as no surprise that Italy is the leading export destination. Italian roasters buy nearly a quarter of India’s coffee exports. If you’ve ever tasted an Italian brand espresso, it is highly likely that it contained beans from India.
Historically, very little of India’s production made it to the U.S. That changed beginning in the 1990’s due, in part, to Josuma’s efforts to raise awareness of Indian coffee among the US and Canadian coffee roasting communities.