The ongoing World Coffee Conference in Bengaluru is being held in India for the first time and will explore sustainability through conferences, workshops and discussions
Bengaluru, home to iconic coffee establishments like the India Coffee House, is hosting the World Coffee Conference for the first time from 25 September to 28 September. This also marks the first time the event has come to India as well as Asia.
The ongoing event is organised by the International Coffee Organisation (ICO) in collaboration with the Coffee Board of India, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, the Government of India, the Government of Karnataka, and the coffee industry. The ICO was set up in London in 1963 under the patronage of the United Nations. Previous editions were held in England (2001), Brazil (2005), Guatemala (2010) and Ethiopia (2016). The four-day event will be held at Bengaluru Palace.
“WCC (2023) is being organised for the first time in Asia and it is set to bring immense benefits to coffee farmers in India,” said K G Jagadeesha, chief executive officer and secretary of the Coffee Board of India, as reported by the Press Trust of India. “By promoting the coffees of India on a global stage, the event will create new opportunities and markets for these farmers”, he added.
This year’s theme is ‘sustainability through circular economy and regenerative agriculture’, highlighting the focus on the relationship between coffee and the climate crisis. The event will explore diverse topics and ideas through conferences, exhibitions, skill-building workshops, a CEOs and global leaders forum and a growers conclave, among other programmes.
The brand ambassador of the event is Indian tennis player, Rohan Bopanna, who unveiled the logo and theme of WCC in August. The mascot for the event is a coffee bean dressed in traditional wear with a turban named Coffee Swami. According to WCC’s official website, the idea for the mascot was to bring together old-world charm and modern avatars that connect with people as well as bridge the gap. “The Mascot signifies the shared commitment to advancing the coffee industry, exploring new trends, and addressing challenges collectively,” it added. It also hopes to be an unifying symbol for conference participants and “embodies the spirit of collaboration in the coffee industry.”
Interestingly, there are also five flora and fauna ambassadors for the event. These include bee and cassia fistula, representing industrial collaboration and transition to amplified abundance; elephant and bird of paradise, referring to interplay between the terrestrial and the divine; peacock and neelkurunji encapsulating the symphony of nature’s artistry and one’s own capabilities; civet and dahalia, representing knack for the finest and unwavering determination; and finally, Indian hare and marigold, referring to vibrant coexistence and rainforest growth.
About 2000 delegates from more than 80 countries are expected to participate in WCC. These include representatives and owners of coffee start-ups, coffee roasters, speciality coffee growers as well as small farmers. According to WCC, this event will provide “the much-needed scope of opportunities” to entrepreneurs, retailers and cafe-business owners who are always on the lookout for sourcing high-quality coffee beans as well as business leaders looking for investment opportunities.
The scheduled conferences on 26 and 27 will touch upon topics such as circular economy and regenerative agriculture, opportunities in the coffee sector and coffee quality. One of the main focuses of this event, as the theme highlights, is sustainability and climate change. The conferences will explore environmental sustainability and climate change, climate-resistant varieties, and the impact of eco-labelling and eco-efficient packaging. The rise of alternate milk, which has been a much-debated topic in recent years, will be the focus of one of the workshops.
The speakers at the event include Amit Pant of Tata Coffee Ltd, Andrea de Marco from the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation, Annette Pensel from Global Coffee Platform, Dr Madhuri Nanda from South Asia Rainforest Alliance, and Dr Adunga Debela from Ethiopian Tea and Coffee Authority. The event will also include competitions such as the National Barista Championship, the National Latte Art Competition, and the Indian Filter Coffee Championship.
India’s growth as a coffee powerhouse
In 2023, India’s coffee exports surpassed $1 billion for the second consecutive year, as reported by trade portal APEDA Agri Exchange. Coffee shipments from India, Asia’s third-largest producer and exporter, increased by 1.66% to 4 lakh tonne in 2022 with the rise in instant coffee exports and re-exports, as stated by the Coffee Board in January 2023. India mainly exports the Robusta coffee bean, which is known for low acidity and high bitterness, according to the Indian Trade Portal. Moreover, instant coffee accounts for one-third of Indian coffee exports. Italy is one of India’s largest markets, constituting 20% of the country’s coffee bean exports.
Currently, India’s coffee exports for the marketing year 2023-24, are projected to increase from October. It is set to rise by 2% to 6.3 million bags of 60 kg each on strong export prospects, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s local office in the country.