Having worked with Starbucks, several agencies and luxury retailers and now the owner of WholeCup coffee consulting, international coffee expert and luxury coffee roaster Sherri Johns finds value in every experience.
Having worked with Starbucks, several agencies and luxury retailers and now the owner of WholeCup coffee consulting, international coffee expert and luxury coffee roaster Sherri Johns finds value in every experience. “Do everything, taste everything, never stop learning. Everything is possible,” says the head judge and mentor of Araku Coffee, who has, over the past one year, frequently conducted cupping and brewing sessions across India. The focus is to spread awareness in the diverse Indian market about the nuances of specialty coffee. “Education is key to coffee and it gives the power to young people in cities, who have a future in coffee, if they choose,” she says in an interview with Vaishali Dar. Edited excerpts:
Is there a long-term sustainable system with Araku communities?
Araku is grown in the world’s largest, certified organic plantations, in micro-lots and selectively harvested to fully express the richness of its unique character. The luxury coffee brand that finds its origins in the ancestral terrains of the Araku Valley in Andhra Pradesh is grown by the adivasis of Eastern Ghats. Several traditional methods of sustainable farming and land maintenance have been reintroduced that are essential for the diverse shade that coffee plantations require. Today, Araku has 10,500 certified coffee farmer families and 12,300 acres planted with the beans. It is the largest bio-dynamic coffee cooperative in the world and we plan to triple the production of specialty coffee by 2023.
Can you share some of the mistakes people make in ordering or drinking coffee?
One common mistake people make is that they store coffee in a refrigerator. Coffee is like a sponge and it absorbs the smell and the flavour of everything around it. Coffee is best kept in a clean, airtight container, away from heat, light and moisture. Buy fresh coffee and grind it just before brewing to enjoy the best cup.
Araku is produced through organic method. How is it a different blend?
Blending requires lot of skill. A designated team undertakes taste-testing for each component to identify specific characteristics and check which component complements another. Not all coffee from the valley is the same. Araku Originals has one of the world’s leading organic agronomists. We concentrate on the 10,500 farmers we partner with in offering best organic practices for farming and purchase the coffee cherry to process it. Of the six variants on offer in Europe, we have introduced four in India more suited for the Indian palate: Signature, Selection, MicroClimate and Grand Reserve.
What is your contribution to Araku coffee? Why is it a luxury product?
Over the past one year, with Araku coffee, we have frequently conducted cupping and brewing sessions for select consumers across various cities. These sessions help educate the diverse Indian market about the nuances of specialty coffee. Araku has given me the opportunity to shake and stir the vibrant coffee market by offering not just the world’s best coffee but also coffeeology, which is the art of enhancing the coffee experience. The luxury organic brand goes through meticulous processes followed from the seed planting to sapling stages, in pruning, in handpicking red cherries. Water optimal proceedings followed by sun-dried parchment lends an extraordinary clean cup.
What’s your earliest coffee memory? How did your passion for coffee begin?
My earliest coffee memory is of sitting on the kitchen counter, playing with the coffee grounds as my mom brewed coffee with a percolator that was popular in the 1950s US. Coffee inspired in me compassionate feelings of sharing, caring. It is associated with all those peaceful moments and a generous cup was a ritual to begin your day or complete your evening meal. I did fall into this job by accident, not realising it would be my profession. I am not sure if I chose coffee or coffee chose me.