Moving away from home, much like starting a business, can often be a lonely experience.
However, there are ways to find familiarity. It can be through the food you prepare, the people you surround yourself with, or the customs you observe.
Or, it can be as simple as a daily ritual that evokes memories of mornings spent drinking filter coffee prepared by a loving grandmother.
For Veena Isoaho, founder of Coromandel Coast Coffee, that precious ritual helped her stay connected to her Indian heritage and inspired her to share it with the world.
The start of Coromandel Coast Coffee
After stumbling across the London Coffee Festival during a walk around Brick Lane, Veena was fascinated by the care and attention speciality coffee provoked in people.
That said, her fascination was quickly eclipsed by her disappointment at the absence of Indian beans. The only mention of Indian coffee was as a component in a pod blend.
“When we started Coromandel Coast in 2017, there was little to no representation in the UK market for Indian coffee, and no one roasted it,” says Veena, who is an active supporter of the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals.
“At that time, it was often looked down upon as most roasters only knew of Indian robusta often used in a dark roast blend or Monsoon Malabar coffee,” she explains.
The experience galvanised Veena’s conviction to change the perception of Indian coffee.
In essence, she says the idea of Coromandel Coast coffee came from an “ongoing frustration that India is mostly known for tea, spices, Bollywood, and yoga, but not coffee.”
A roaster driven by sustainability
The name Coromandel Coast Coffee was inspired by Veena’s hometown of Chennai, the largest metropolis on the Coromandel coast.
More importantly, the birth of her child and the sustainability behind Indian coffees inspired her business model.
“Many Indian coffees are traditionally grown in the shade of native forest trees, which resonated deeply with me,” Veena explains. “It helps create a unique flavour profile in the coffee and is a climate-smart way to grow coffee.”
“Sustainability remains the sole purpose behind why I do what I do,” she says. “I do my bit to mitigate climate change so my daughter grows up in a better world.”
Coromandel Coast Coffee holds itself accountable at the highest level regarding sustainability.
Veena explains that Coromandel Coast’s coffee packaging is 100% compostable and certified according to the European standard EN 13432, and has been since the business began.
The simple white colour of Coromandel Coast’s stand-up coffee pouches helps their illustrated logo of an Indian elephant stand out.
Two bands of soft pastel colour across the top of each bag help differentiate coffee origins and processes.
Additionally, the brand uses recycled cardboard coffee mailer boxes to ship their product to customers around the world. More so, the customisation on the side of the coffee box ensures customers they have purchased shade-grown, ethically sourced coffee.
Veena explains that Coromandel Coast Coffee is also one of the first roasters to align its impact with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The brand exclusively sources and roasts sustainably grown Indian coffees. More so, it works directly with small-holder farmers to ensure a higher-than-average income generation for the producers.
Veena believes the only way to rescue coffee is to ensure farmers are paid a profitable price, and to invest in rural projects that achieve the UN’s SDGs within coffee-growing communities.
“At Coromandel Coast, we carefully select our projects via Buy1Give1: a platform that helps us embed charitable giving into our business model,” she adds.
The importance of shade-grown coffee
The environment in which coffee is grown can have a considerable impact on the final taste.
As an understory shrub, coffee thrives in the shade. When planted out of direct sunlight, the cooler temperatures slow the maturation cycle of the cherries, packing them full of flavour.
Historically, coffee has always been grown in the shade. However, when demand for coffee increased during the 70s, sun-tolerant strains became more prevalent as they gave higher yields.
In some areas, higher yields have resulted in overproduction. This has negatively impacted the sales cost and forced many farmers to sell at a loss. This style of farming is also exhausting for the land.
After just fifteen years, the soil needs to rest. This often results in more farmland being cleared and contributes to the vicious cycle of deforestation.
Coromandel Coast Coffee only sources and roast shade-grown coffee to prevent contributing to deforestation.
“Another great thing about farming practices in India is that coffee shares space with aromatic spices such as pepper, ginger, cloves, and cardamom,” Veena explains.
“It is often grown in the shade of fruit trees, such as oranges, mangos, bananas, and jackfruit, so the harvested coffee beans often take on some of these exotic flavour notes.”
Overcoming the challenges of launching a coffee roasting business
In addition to the challenges of operating a coffee business, Veena had other difficulties to contend with.
“I was an outsider to the industry when I started,” she admits. “I didn’t have years of coffee roasting experience.
Furthermore, she admits that as a female roaster representing an unknown origin, she didn’t believe the retail or wholesale world would pay any heed.
“As an immigrant, I don’t have family in the UK, so I lack that support system. I often found juggling motherhood and business extremely hard,” she adds.
Despite these challenges, Coromandel Coast Coffee found its exceptionally loyal audience.
Since launching in 2017, the brand has invested in three locations, with the fourth set to open this year.
Coromandel Coast has grown from a one-woman band to a thriving, female-led profit-for-purpose business.
At MTPak Coffee, we understand the need to initiate sustainable business practices to secure the future of the specialty coffee industry.
We pride ourselves on the sustainable services we offer roasters and coffee shop owners.
Our range of coffee packaging options is made from completely renewable materials.
Our variety of coffee boxes is made using 100% recycled cardboard, while our sustainable coffee bags are made using kraft paper, rice paper, or multilayer LDPE packaging with an environmentally friendly PLA lining.
Additionally, we offer our clients a quick turnaround time of 40-hours and 24-hour shipping time, thanks to our innovative digital printing technology.
We also offer low minimum order quantities (MOQs) to micro-roasters who are looking to remain agile while showcasing brand identity and a commitment to the environment.