BENGALURU: The cuppa that cheers you are sipping... is it one hundred per cent coffee or blended with chicory, robbing you of the pleasure of enjoying the perfect brew?
Batting for the common customer and connoisseur, the Coffee Board is going all out to ensure that people get the purest form of coffee, or at least have the opportunity to make a fair choice and know what they are consuming.
It has proposed to the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) to reduce the chicory content in coffee which now stands at 49 per cent as the maximum limit.
But as all stakeholders have not agreed to the idea, the Board has put forth a fresh proposal that buyers should at least be allowed an informed choice and coffee should be labelled under three categories and clearly mentioned on bottles and sachets.
Coffee Board for change in labelling
The Board has proposed that the labelling should be '100 per cent coffee' (or pure coffee), 'coffee with chicory' (when the presence of chicory is less) and ‘chicory flavoured with coffee’ (when the presence of chicory is high).
"As the proposal on reducing the chicory content was pending with FSSAI for a long time, a new suggestion has been made where buyers have the option. This is required as growers will also benefit," KG Jagadeesha, CEO and Secretary, Coffee Board, told The New Indian Express.
Chicory was introduced during World War 2 when the production of coffee dipped. Chicory is highly soluble and makes coffee thicker and sweeter as it has more carbohydrates. Now, if a customer takes coffee beans to a shop to get it grounded, the shop owner may blend it with chicory without telling the customer the amount added.
There have also been instances where shop owners have surreptitiously kept a share of the pure coffee. Coffee costs Rs 500 per kg in the domestic market, while chicory is priced at just Rs 30 per kg. This is why such illegal trade happens.
The Coffee Board has been campaigning against blending, as it affects the quality of coffee, which has been dipping bringing a bad name to Karnataka -- one of the largest producers of coffee.
But other stakeholders, especially chicory growers from North India, are opposing it, saying it will affect their business. Of the 4.65 lakh hectares of land under coffee cultivation in the country, 2.46 lakh hectares is in Karnataka.
Covering Chikka-magaluru, Kodagu and Hassan. Karnataka's Indian Arabica coffee, which is grown in the shade, is much sought after across the world. It has the biggest market in Europe.