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A warm aroma of coffee beans and the hiss of the an espresso machine greet me in the heart of Araku Valley. I am at the Araku Valley Coffee Museum, about 130 kilometres from Visakhapatnam. Along with the heady smell of coffee I also take in the journey of this bean to this location. Coffee was introduced to Andhra Pradesh in 1898 by a Britisher N S Brodie during 1898. I also learn that India holds a unique position in world coffee sector being the sixth largest producer of coffee, and that more than 98 % coffee growers in the country are small farmers. Did you know that coffee is grown in the shade, employing environmentally sustainable methods? I do now.
The museum narrates the journey of coffee from seed to cup through colourful murals on walls right at the entrance. Wearing colourful earthy tones of green, red and yellow, the tribal women and their families pluck the deep red coffee cherries. The brightly-hued murals depict how these cherries are then pulped, fermented and dried till it is ready for roasting and grounding. Inside the museum, the soft lights bring alive the dioramas (three-dimensional figures made of fibre and cement) that reflects the long journey of the coffee bean from its discovery in Ethiopia to its popularity across the world and Araku. An audio-visual show gives a glimpse of the lush green slopes of the Araku Valley where coffee is grown under the shade of silver oak trees and pepper creepers.
The museum was set up in 2006, but its journey began in 1954 when a migrant Prakash Raoset up a small coffee shop near the Railway Station to showcase Araku’s Arabica coffee. Today that small shop is a bustling aromatic place attached to a museum and all of it built up over 4,000 square feet.
Since then, the coffee museum has drawn several tourists from across India and abroad who come here to savour its wide range of beverages and chocolates. “The museum and coffee shop unit is a source of livelihood for 70 tribal villagers from the region, who are coffee growers themselves. They are trained in making coffee beverages and coffee chocolates that are sold here,” says Naresh Akella, son of Prakash Rao who along with his two brothers Santosh Kumar and Gopal Rao took over the reigns of managing the museum after their father passed away a few years ago.
While the Araku Arabica Coffee is the ever-favourite, there is another menu at the coffee shopfor those who are looking for a more adventurous coffee-tasting. This menu includes the slow brewed craft coffee and other expensive varieties of coffee. Here, one gets to not only learn about the history of the coffee variety, but also get to witness the entire process of making it.
They can sample the Kopi Luwak here. It is the world’s most expensive coffee made from beans digested by a civet cat. The faeces of this cat is collected and processed. According to Naresh, these are procured from certain pockets of Araku.
Image Gallery of Araku Coffee House Araku Valley
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