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ARAKU SAYS GET MILK, SUGAR AND UNFAIR LABOUR PRACTISE OUT OF YOUR COFFEE


Araku Coffee isn’t just some coffee in a cup.

It’s coffee from beans you know the exact source of. It’s coffee that has been studied by an expert for the flavour balance so you know what to expect. It’s coffee bought along with the right equipment – filters, brew bottles and pots – so it tastes just right. And the equipment comes with website tutorials that help you ensure a professional degree of preparation.

Almost reminds of the kind of brand ecosystems elite commercial brands like Apple have built for you to buy into. Except Araku Coffee isn’t an elite commercial brand.

A social enterprise, it employs tribal communities to farm the coffee plantations of Araku valley, Andhra Pradesh and ensures their socio-economic empowerment by cutting out the middlemen and ensuring full profits.


(Source: yourstory.com)

Despite the strong interlinkages with sustainability, the product has developed an identity of its own. Globally recognised as a coffee brand, it doesn’t suffer the disadvantage of its identity being reduced to its category, like many sustainable brands do.

Largely due to the coffee culture it is nurturing: knowledgeable consumption of high-quality black coffee expertly prepared by the everyday consumer. So, the equipment and tutorials don’t just make for engaging touchpoints but double up as subtle encouragements to brew Araku daily at home instead of making it an occasional indulgence at the café.

Even the brand’s preference for online retail as opposed to a large number of stores is a reflection of the same vision.
Araku’s understanding of coffee culture seems to be derived from France’s approach to wine consumption – mindfulness of the wine’s area of origin and of different hints of flavour sensed; fitting given the brand’s debut in Paris.

It has boldly brought this understanding to India without much alteration, perhaps banking on adoption from Indian elites who wish to join the global community through emulation.

Fostering an aura of exclusivity has also made Araku distinct amongst sustainable brands. Where people have to be convinced to buy into sustainability, the brand has made people yearn for the product by positioning itself as premium.

In founder Manoj Kumar’s words, Araku Coffee was initially “sold by invitation only” i.e. only sold to the buyers Araku chose rather than to everyone who wanted to buy. The brand had started by selling to only 12 buyers and recently opened up to retail.


(Source: scroll.in)

This exclusivity has also contributed to its global appeal. But of course, it’s not just about the brand image, factors grounded in the product contribute simultaneously as well – the minimalistic packaging design, participation in the understanding of coffee as a beverage taken without milk and sugar, and being the producer of much larger quantities of high-quality single-origin coffee than available across the world.

The brand may have done significant work to make its product stand apart but that doesn’t mean it has overlooked acknowledgement of its origins. Araku has embedded its cause in the packaging design by emphasising the product’s roots, specifically through geographical cues.

The valley the coffee originates from is not just referenced through the brand name but also through the pack colours, coded to indicate the exact area a certain product version comes from.

The leaf patterns recall the coffee leaves, linking the pack design to the product story, but aren’t made to be replicas and are instead stylised – deriving inspiration from modern art. This modern art reference gives the brand a premium and sophisticated/stylish image.

When studied for its growth and success, collaboration emerges as a key sign across Araku’s presence. The brand relies on a network of “farmers, coffee and agricultural experts” for high-quality production. It draws support from directors like Anand Mahindra of the Mahindra group and Mr Senapathy ‘Kris’ Gopalakrishnan of Infosys.

Funding from brands like Hermes, Danone and Schneider Electric has allowed it to plant more trees to meet local demands for forest cover. And there’s also its signature Moka pot, a brightly coloured coffee maker designed by Norwegian duo Anderssen & Voll.

Overall, Araku Coffee teaches that to break through the clutter, a sustainable brand needs to be more than just that. Its product needs to stand for itself. And while a sustainable angle is laudable, the product shouldn’t play second fiddle to it. Because the goal is for sustainability to eventually become a given and stop being a sub-category of products.

All images taken from Araku Coffee, unless stated otherwise