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Coffee liqueur trend takes off in India

Indian distillers are experimenting with coffee liqueurs with the trend taking off in a big way after the pandemic.

A raft of new cold-brew coffee and spirit variants have hit the country, according to local reports via the The Hindu with more than 20 artisanal coffee brands already having launched in the past few years.

As a parallel trend, local reports identified that homegrown Indian spirits are growing at a healthy pace too with Indian single malts overtaking sales of Scotch for the first time this year, and Indian craft spirits dominating drinking. The trend is also reportedly seeing coffee infused in meads and gins alongside India’s cold brew coffee liqueurs.

The brand Bandarful, a cold brew coffee liqueur from Uttarakhand-based Himmaleh Spirits, is, according to The Hindu, “a nod to the coffee of the Western Ghats” and was launched at the 30 Best Bars of India event in Goa this year.

Himmaleh Spirits co-founder Ansh Khanna said: “India has some of the world’s best terroir for coffee and we wanted to show that to the world with a flavour-driven coffee liqueur.”

According to Khanna, the drink is “best enjoyed with ice or in an Espresso Martini.”

Khanna explained that Bandarful is a 25% ABV coffee liqueur that takes over 22 hours to create and has been made with Himalayan spring water, and medium-dark, single-estate Arabica coffee beans from the Ratnagiri estate in Chikkamagaluru.

Khanna added: “It is an artisanal cold-brew coffee liqueur that’s all about wild adventures, lively spirits, and a tribute to the long-tailed langur from the heart of Kumaon.”

Another brand, named Quaffine, owned by Chennai-based Indie Brews and Spirits, has been identified as “India’s first cold-brew liqueur” and recently won a gold medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2023.

Indie Brews and Spirits founder and CEO Isaac Vivek Mani said: “During the inception of the company, while mapping the opportunities and gaps, the absence of an authentic, premium 100% Indian coffee liqueur clearly stood out. It was our love for Madras filter coffee that nailed our decision to launch Quaffine. We experimented with over 120 samples.”

Quaffine is 25% ABV and has been created using single-estate coffee from the Chikkamagaluru region, 3,500 feet above sea level and contains no additives or artificial flavouring.

Vivek Mani explained: “The Arabica coffee beans are roasted to a medium-dark. The cold brewing extraction method is less acidic and less tannic that allows for a superior balance of coffee flavours” and hinted that Quaffine will “soon arrive in Thailand and Karnataka by mid-2024”.

In an interview this week, Japanese spirits company Suntory Holdings CEO Takeshi Niinami noted that “the Indian market is always asking for something new nowadays”.

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