Indian coffee roaster Cotha Associates finds success with Buhler InfinityRoast 1000

  While India is traditionally known as a tea-drinking nation, the second mo undefined

st populous country in the world has a strong, if relatively little-known, coffee heritage.
India was the first country outside Africa and the Arabian region to cultivate coffee.

As legend has it, in the 16th century the Islamic Saint Baba Budan was the first person to export coffee from ancient Arabia for the purpose of production with the first seven seeds that, according to legend, he smuggled out of Yemen sewn into his belt.

Those seeds were planted in the Karnataka province of southern India on what is now known as the Baba Budangiri mountain range, which remains to this day the centre of coffee production in India.

With a history in the coffee business stretching back to 1948, Indian coffee roaster Cotha Associates is a proud champion of India’s rich coffee heritage and has, with more than 50 years of experience in the industry, built a strong heritage of its own.

Now Cotha Associates is focused on servicing the higher end of the coffee market with a product that emphasises quality.

At present, India exports nearly 70 per cent of the coffee that it produces. However in recent years the growth of the Indian middle class has led to a change in consumption habits that has driven up the popularity of coffee in the traditionally tea-drinking nation.

At the same time the awareness of Indian coffee has grown among the domestic market, giving rise to a fertile market for growth.

Head of Cotha Associates CP Chandan says that the tastes of Indian consumers has evolved in recent years, but that it is the job of companies like his to come up with flavours and experiences that will continue to entice the market.

“It’s the job of the roaster to develop customer or consumer requirements by selecting beans and also roasting them to bring out the best in the bean and also satisfy the requirements of the consumer,” he says.

Chandan says that with the rich variety of Indian coffees available at the right price for the Indian coffee market, the potential for Indian producers is massive.
In order to capitalise on this opportunity, Cotha Associates has partnered with Swiss roaster manufacturer Buhler to ensure that it has the technology required to produce a consistently high quality product.

“The association of the family with Buhler dates back more than a decade when a curing facility was considered and machines such as Sortex were used to improve the quality of coffee,” Chandan says.

In 2014, Cotha approached Buhler to discuss the requirements for the next phase of its business. The two companies went over the details of Cotha’ future plans and looked at the available options. In order to get a better idea of the solutions on offer, Chandan says that he even visited the Buhler plant in Switzerland, where he found the right machine for his requirements – the InfinityRoast 1000.

“Even though the capacity was large, the partners decided to explore the possibility to importing the latest machine, with the plan of having a complete automated plant from green bean intake to finished roast and ground packets,” Chandan says.

The InfinityRoast line combines a unique type of roasting chamber with the benefits of a highly efficient, gentle round-bed cooler. This combination is the key to producing consistent, superior coffee products. The design of the roasting chamber is suitable for operation with low or high air-to-bean ratios.

The advanced Infinity Profile Control enables precise replication of any conventional or non-conventional roasting profile. Using this feature, Cotha can adjust the time-temperature pathway and the air-to-bean ratio in order to master aroma formation and micro-structure changes in the bean.

The high-performance profile control automatically regulates the energy input into the roasting chamber and ensures consistent and optimal heat transfer. Whether for conventional or non-conventional profiles, the InfinityRoast replicates the desired time-temperature curve with unprecedented precision – batch-by-batch.

Buhler InfinityRoast 1000 Cotha Associates

Chandan says that the fact that Buhler now has a physical presence in Bangalore, where Cotha Associates’s plant is located, benefited the relationship greatly.

“Buhler being in Bangalore is another reason for the venture to be a win-win for both parties,” he says. “The company has a clear understanding to offer the facility to conduct trials on the roaster for Buhler or their prospective customers.”

While on one hand this has made Buhler more accessible throughout the process, it has also given them a greater insight into the environmental conditions particular to operating in Bangalore.

“India faces power shortages and the quality and quantity of power supplied by the government could be anyone’s guess in most of the places,” Chandan says. “Unlike many countries, adaptation to the local environment here requires some effort.”

Having had problematic experiences with other roasters and their shortfalls, Chandan made a point of asking Buhler for assurances that none of the same problems would happen on their machine.

“The problems were clearly addressed point by point and solutions explained,” Chandan says. “In addition to what was already known to us, we were pleasantly surprised with additional inclusions from their end, which clearly reinforced our trust in their offerings.”

When it came to the installation of the new equipment, Chandan says the Buhler team worked smoothly and effectively with the Cotha team.

“Modifications to optimise space were requested and executed to our satisfaction,” he says. “As the complete machine was an import and not made to order, localisation, and customisation of some items were supported by the team in Bangalore.”

Chandan says that the relationship between Cotha and Buhler has been so beneficial to his business that they are now planning more work together in the future.
“With their presence in plant automation, cleaning technologies, storage solutions, transportation methods and grinding solutions, a blueprint for future expansion has already been drawn up,” he says.

Now, Chandan says, he feels free to concentrate on what he does best.

“We are in the business of coffee – we want to understand coffee and what the consumer needs when they want coffee,” he says. “To deliver in this space using best methods and minimising our intervention, the solutions from Buhler have more than met our expectations.” 

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