How Allana Group built an Indian coffee empire


Allana explains how it became one of the largest coffee exporters in India and caters to the needs of all types of buyers: specialty, single estate, and commercial-grade coffee.

When the Allana Group began trading in agricultural commodities in 1865, Founder Abdulla Allana and his family had no idea that the company would receive so much uptake that it would need a dedicated coffee division, nor that it would become one of the largest coffee exporters in India. But it did.

“Allana is a very entrepreneurial company. Despite earning a position of prestige in the Indian commodities market, the founding family allow us the freedom to input ideas, creating a stimulating working environment,” says Allanasons Director MP Devaiah.

“Through more than 158 years of inspired leadership, the Allana Group has emerged as a multi-product conglomerate of companies with wide-ranging interests. The company exports coffee, wheat, processed food, frozen buffalo and sheep meat, and is also making strides in the edible oils segment, along with a host of other products in the domestic market.”

After forming the subdivision, Allanasons, in 1973 to manufacture and supply processed food products, the company decided to diversify into coffee exports in 1982 and create the Coffee Division, based in Bangalore.

“The divisional office is situated in the heart of the city in close proximity to the Coffee Board of India. With the state of Karnataka producing 70 per cent of the coffee grown in the country, it is ideally located,” Devaiah says.

“Headed by a team of professionals well versed in the field and backed by the support of Allanasons, the Coffee Division soon made its presence felt, and found itself at the forefront of the industry.”

To complement this activity and gain control over the curing of the coffees sourced, Allanasons acquired its own curing factory in 1992.

“Gradually, this coffee curing unit, which was strategically located in Hassan in Karnataka and situated midway between the two major coffee growing districts of Chikkamagaluru and Coorg, became one of the hubs of activity in the industry,” says Devaiah.

“In turn, this required the expansion of the facilities and modernisation of the plant and machinery to meet the additional requirements of the Coffee Division. It also boasts an in-house cup-tasting facility for evaluating the characteristics of coffee.”

Allanasons owns two large warehouses at the port cities of Cochin and Mangalore where cargo is unloaded prior to shipment, ensuring that all operations come under its effective control. The company exports all grades of washed and unwashed Arabicas and Robustas, and owns and operates a dedicated facility in Mangalore where coffee monsooning is carried out.

This is the 12- to 16-week process of spreading beans across the warehouse floor during India’s monsoon season, allowing the beans to absorb moisture, swell in size, change colour, and shed their acidity.

“We are a supplier of quality coffee known for fulfilling commitments on schedule,” says Devaiah.

“In recognition of the Coffee Division’s performance, the Coffee Board of India has awarded Allanasons many accolades. Allanasons has won the APEDA Golden Export Trophy each year since 1992, reflecting its premier position in the export of agricultural products and processed foods. The Government of India has recognised Allana as a Premier Trading House, the highest achievable export performance recognition in the country.”

“We hold the distinction of being the country’s leading exporter of green coffee for a number of years consecutively, with exports in the range of 24,000 to 30,000 tonnes per annum.”

According to Devaiah, Allana sources beans directly from coffee plantations, enjoying preferential status with many growers who offer the best of their harvest in view of reliable transactions and assured uptake.

“The lush green hills of South India provide the world with much more than scenic beauty. They are the home of India’s largest coffee plantations and situated in the hills of Baba Budan, Biligiri, Kodagu, Mysore, Nilgiris, Palani and Shevaroy. These plantations produce fine coffee grown under natural forest shade,” he says.

“We value our associations with buyers and growers which have been nurtured over a four decade period. Trust and confidence in Allana is due to dedicated customer service, with instant round-the-clock response systems.”

Devaiah continues that the favourable climate, fertile soil, scientific cultivation – much of it organic – and stringent quality control, all contribute to producing the finest mild coffee in the world today — rich, smooth, and full of flavour.

“Over the years, we have gained expertise in dealing with all the major specialty coffees from India, including Monsooned Malabar AA and Monsooned Robusta AA,” he says.

“We have also developed two specialty coffees under our own brand name. Allana Mild Plantation AA and Royal Robusta Cherry AA. In addition, we are now offering our own exquisite signature coffees Arabica Monsooned Malabar AAA Screen 19/20 and Robusta Monsooned AAA Screen 19. We also provide buyers with customised special coffees to suit their needs.”

Devaiah looks forward to Allana remaining at the forefront of green bean coffee business in the Indian coffee market.

“Our strong network in sourcing the finest beans as well as our inhouse quality control differentiate and bring out the uniqueness in our coffee,” he says.

Devaiah says over the years coffee has become a mainstream consumer drink, especially amongst the vibrant young generation in India.

Keeping this in mind, Allana is also moving into downstream products.

“Our foray into the domestic coffee market is our commitment to provide one of the highest grades of coffee to our consumers. Being a veteran player in the industry, our extensive experience and expertise along with our world class infrastructure, we aim to create a superior and healthy domestic coffee market in India,” he says.

Devaiah says Allanasons is a trusted name, and the best bet for any requirements of quality coffee.

“We aim to grow through partnerships and maintain an uncompromising approach towards excellence which includes teaching an indomitable drive, a relentless determination and a persistent delivery standard in every aspect of the business,” he says.

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This article was first published in the September/October 2023 edition of Global Coffee Report. Read more HERE.

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