For all those in a deeply committed relationship with coffee, we’ve got your next morning cuppa sorted, and it’s in especially good hands. Koinonia Coffee Roasters in Chuim Village is the newest addition to the specialty coffee community slowly brewing in Mumbai. We got chatting with the founders of Koinonia - Siddharth, Clement and Shannon, three young men from around the world who were in search of the perfect cup themselves when their paths serendipitously crossed.
Koinonia is an effort to create a community around the ritualistic consumption of coffee. Right from the farmers who grow the beans, to the roasting, extraction (the act of turning ground coffee into a beverage) and finally the consumption - their philosophy is vertically integrated to bring most of these elements into the same hands, so to speak. Their motive was to give a consumer a good, clean cup of coffee from farmers they knew and trusted, at a completely affordable price. After all, you shouldn’t have to pay so much for a cup of something as essential to life as coffee.
At the moment, they have coffee being sourced from four farms across India and are only doing single-estate brews. All their coffee is Arabica, typically sweeter and more recognized by the global specialty coffee community. Their barista machine, a La Morzocco, is amongst the best in the world. Their roaster is also the first 12 kg Probac roaster to be assembled in India - and they are incredible proud of their baby (who they have now named, but will only reveal it to the choicest few.)
With none of them coming from any sort of coffee heritage, it’s curious as to how this all came to be. Shannon has a financial background, Siddharth was knee-deep in real estate, and Clement comes from a corporate background as well. On a trip to Europe about a year ago, they started throwing ideas around, and the talk of coffee and a cafe came up. “One of the books that really inspired us was Blue Bottle Cafe from the US. If we were doing coffee, we knew we couldn’t just do a cafe. Coming from a real estate background, I knew this, and I also knew people were failing at this. So we had to do something different, entrepreneurial even, that would change and affect people’s lives. With that in mind, we got into speciality coffee,” Sidharth explains. “We came back to India and noticed this massive gap between the customer’s understanding of coffee and what coffee actually should be.That’s how it started, an attempt to bridge that gap as a coffee company that roasts its own coffee and sells its own coffee. We also decided that the cafe had to be a space for people to come together, and feel something physical as opposed to an e-commerce website of a company. That’s where Clemont came in, and the ball started rolling.”
What sets Koinonia apart from other specialty coffee roasters is their commitment to giving people a good cup of coffee in the comfort of their own home too. It is for this reason that they have created their own version of the ‘Clever Coffee Dripper’, a coffee-making device easier than the french press or mocha pot. You use a paper filter, fill it with coffee, pour the water over, plunge - and wait. It’s just that simple! “This way, you’re able to enjoy the work that we’re doing in the roaster and all those subtle flavour elements - the fruit with the chocolate, for example. And it’s the same every single time. These are things that can’t always be achieved with a french press,” Clement tells us as he demonstrates the process with the ease of a man who’s clearly been doing this for a very long time.
In the world we live in today, we’ve almost been convinced that a good cup of coffee that is not just sought out for its caffeine content, is in fact, a luxury. Siddharth believes that tasting and understanding coffee in this manner naturally gets people to question “Why should I pay more money, when I’m getting such a good cup of coffee at this price? That’s when people start demanding good coffee. That’s when the game changes. We don’t mind competition from other roasters. More roasters means more demand. India is one of the countries where the economy and demand can drive the supply. A lot of poorer countries just export it, while other countries only consume it. India is in between that.” It’s about time we get to try the best our country has to offer, then.
When asked what the future they envision for themselves looks like, Clement tells us that “The endgame is not to just create a financially successful coffee company, but to create an ecosystem where the consumer is educated. The customer then starts demanding for quality. That’s when people are forced to provide good quality. Unfortunately, today, the guys who export are the ones with special coffee. But we want to partner with smaller farmers and give them an incentive to produce a certain grade of coffee. Smaller farms are easier to produce coffee at, as it’s easier to control. That’s how the world starts to understand the Indian speciality of coffee too. That’s why we’re called Koinonia, which means community - our community stands for every person involved in this process.”
If reading this has filled your senses with bursts of flavour and the desire for a cup of the best, we suggest you make your way over to this quaint little cafe hidden in the streets of Chuim. Their coffee is available for sale at Rs. 300 a packet, and their Clever Coffee Dripper is also for sale at INR 1999 - totally and completely affordable. Here’s to good coffee, every damn day of the week.
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