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Tea is not replacing coffee

Cappuccino is the most popular drink at Gloria Jean’s Coffees worldwide and, despite once being a tea-drinking nation, India is no exception.

india Updated: Feb 15, 2010 18:39 IST
Naomi Canton

Cappuccino is the most popular drink at Gloria Jean’s Coffees worldwide and, despite once being a tea-drinking nation, India is no exception.So claims executive chairman, Nabi Saleh, who was in Mumbai to receive a retail leadership award.

“Globally, coffee houses are growing in popularity because people have seen the damage that alcohol can do. India is no different as far as its romance with speciality coffee goes. Indian students are well-travelled and have been exposed to western habits, which they have brought back home,” Saleh explains.

No sugar
Hot coffees, predominantly cappuccinos and café lattes, are the most popular drinks consumed in India, he reveals, not tea. The company, headquartered in Australia, has three Mumbai outlets — in Bandra, Powai and Goregaon. Saleh says they have plans to open four more in the city by the end of the year.

Indians have become more health conscious, he says. Hot coffee without sugar is the norm, and those who add sugar prefer to do it themselves. Though not very popular, flavoured coffees are slowly taking off, he adds. “These drinks anyway are consumed rarely. The trend started in the US and is still most popular there,” he explains.

“There has been a resurgence of tea drinking across the world because of the antioxidants and health benefits. Green tea’s health benefits have made it popular mainly in the west,” he explains. “But tea is not replacing coffee. Black tea has even more caffeine per gram than coffee,” he says.

India is the fourth largest green (unroasted) coffee producer in the world. But single origin coffee (that hails from one specific growing region) is yet to catch on here, despite growing in popularity in other countries.

“Globally youth want to know where the coffee they are drinking is from. Demand in India is still low. We want to introduce more single origin coffees in India but have to pay heavy duties,” he adds. So what are the health benefits to coffee? It contains antioxidants and stimulants, which keep you alert, Saleh signs off.

Coffee cultures around the world
Filter coffee is consumed the most. Milky espresso-based drinks, such as café lattes, are growing in popularity but the espresso coffee culture lags behind. The trend for speciality coffees was founded here.

Italy: Traditional drinkers, Italians have a cappuccino or café latte for breakfast and then nothing but espresso throughout the day.

UK: Originally tea-drinkers, a coffee-drinking culture has now evolved, imitating US trends. From filter and percolated coffees, cappuccinos and café lattes are now trendy.

Australia: They traditionally drank tea because of their British heritage. Starting with instant coffee, they had a short era of filtered and percolated coffee. The Greeks, Lebanese, Turks brought the espresso culture. Recently, interest in café latte and espresso is increasing.

Pakistan: Pakistan was a tea-drinking nation, but now it has imported the western style of espresso-based coffee drinking. Pakistanis prefer milk-based hot coffee drinks.

India: India has a strong traditional coffee and tea drinking culture. In South India, chicory is added to the coffee as a filler. People prefer milk-based coffees such as cappuccinos. Espressos are just coming through. Fruit and coffee-based chillers are the most popular cold drinks.