Naga Coffee was awarded Gold for Nagaland Washing Station Natural Coffee during the Aurora International Taste Challenge (AITC) 2023 held on 9 June in South Africa.
Local farmers from the state capital Kohima produced the coffee that entered the competition.
The Naga coffee team that processed the award-winning coffee consisted of Dr Pieter Vermeulen, co-founder, Kajiikho Ariicho and Ënga Antühü, the mill manager.
Held in South Africa this year, the Aurora International Taste Challenge was established to recognise and award food and drink excellence internationally while helping consumers confidently purchase award-winning, expertly-rated products.
Unique process of coffee processing
The Naga Coffee was experimented with a new drying process this year. Ripe coffee cherries were brought from a few local farmers and dried in a polyhouse during the winter season in Kohima.
Before the final processing of the coffee, it was sundried for three days in Dimapur. This double-drying process produced a wonderful sweetness.
This season, only 120 kg of this particular coffee was produced. But it was for the first time that Nagaland has produced a coffee that scored above 85 points on the Speciality Coffee Associations scale.
Coffee production in India
In the 2016-17 season, India had produced 5.5 million bags of coffee. Most of the country’s coffee is grown in the three southern states of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala, followed by Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. India processes coffee by the washed (or wet) method as well as the natural (or dry) method.
But more recently, there has been a growing demand for premium and speciality coffees as consumers become increasingly interested in unique flavour profiles and high-quality products. Further, customers show greater interest in coffees that offer additional health benefits, such as antioxidants or energy-boosting properties.
This is where Nagaland coffee comes in – grown in the forests in the mountainous areas of Nagaland.
Coffee in Nagaland
Various districts of Nagaland, like Zunheboto, Mon, Wokha, Khar and Boje, offer high-altitude speciality coffee grown in the natural forest shade.
This is part of Naga Coffee – a public-private partnership – which was formalised in 2016 as a Memorandum of Understanding between the Department of Land Resources, Nagaland and Noble Cause, a South African Company by Peter Vermeulen.
The coffee seeds are procured from the Coffee Board of India and sent to small farmers to be planted. Later these coffees are roasted by the Naga Coffee team. The idea behind this is to promote homegrown Himalayan coffee with a natural citrus flavour and generate employment in the State.
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