Celebrating Coffee, Coffee Farms and Coffee Producers

The results are now available.

Thank you to all who took part. Congratulations to all the winners.

As of 2021, Araku Coffee has consistently won scores as high as 94 from industry experts. We are very proud of our 12-year journey and are thrilled to announce that the 13th annual edition of Gems of Araku is going online for the first time.

Araku Coffee is exposed to some of the world's most renowned coffee aficionados via the Gems of Araku competition adapted from the Cup of Excellence and Specialty Coffee Association cupping protocols.

Since 2009, Gems of Araku, an annual harvest festival curated by Naandi Foundation, brings eminent coffee experts from across the globe together, to recognize and celebrate the “Gems” among coffees of the entire Araku region. The event has ensured that thousands of tribal farmers have access to global coffee expertise. In our pursuit of excellence, the farmers and our in-house experts have actively worked with international cuppers and coffee evangelists to improve the quality of the bean, year on year.

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Auction Times in your Region

27th May 2021, @ 14:00pm (London)

  • 06:00am: Los Angeles
  • 09:00am: New York
  • 10:00am: Sao Paulo
  • 14:00pm: London
  • 18:30pm: Hyderabad
  • 20:00pm: Jakarta
  • 21:00pm: Shanghai
  • 22:00pm: Tokyo
  • 23:00pm: Sydney

About this auction

Due to the COVID pandemic, Gems of Araku will take place virtually, as a global auction this year. The auction will be held on the Sensible Development platform, on 27th May 2021 at 10:00am (London).

All coffee farms making Araku Coffee have been certified organic by IMO, an independent external certification body in India for organic agriculture since 2004. A Fairtrade certificate is also issued by Fairtrade India, ensuring that products are manufactured, marketed and sold using ethical practices.

The International Gems of Araku Jury 2021 includes:

  • Sherri Johns - HEAD JUDGE, Portland, USA
  • Mike and Alicia Love, Coffee Labs Roasters, Tarrytown New York, USA
  • Eung Zoo Yon –Foosung Hds Co. Ltd, Gyeonggi-do, Korea & LaB Coffee, Los Angeles, USA
  • Yimara Martinez, Sustainable Harvest, Portland Oregon, USA
  • Alfonso Tupaz and Boris Lee, Hatch Crafted Coffee, Toronto, Canada
  • Brian Turko, Milano Roasters, Vancouver, Canada
  • Raphael Braune, BB Coffee Company, Unterhaching, Germany
  • Yuko Itoi, Times Club Coffee, Japan
  • Pil Hoon, Coffee Libre, Seoul, South Korea
  • Jordan Dabov, Dabov Specialty Coffee, Bulgaria and Spain
  • Jonathan M Cates, Broadway Roasting Co, Kansas City, USA
  • Sasa Sestic, Ona Coffee, Australia
  • Vladimir Tkalich, Khabarovsk, Russia
  • Roman Ponomarev, Kiev, Ukraine

Araku, India: The land of coffee

The genesis of Araku coffee takes place in the scenic Araku region in the Eastern Ghats of Southern India. Situated at 3000 - 4500 ft above the sea level in Visakhapatnam district of Andhra Pradesh in India, this remote, notified tribal area has been home to indigenous tribes for centuries.

In the early 1920s, the British brought coffee to the region. A couple of decades ago, Araku had witnessed acute loss of biodiversity. It was also characterized by extreme poverty and backwardness from the mainstream economy. An erstwhile rich ecosystem had become an eco-fragile zone, having abysmally low literacy levels, high infant and maternal mortality rates and unrest in the form of violent insurgency movement against government authorities. Dwindling ecology coupled with loss of livelihoods, the small and marginal tribal farmers were keen to revive their lost surroundings and create sustainable livelihoods for their families.

It was then, in the year 2000, that Naandi Foundation, one of India’s largest non-profit organizations, intervened. First, with Nanhi Kali, a girl child education programme offering quality education and later, with a healthcare initiative to tackle high maternal mortality rates in the region. The team at Naandi also committed to build on indigenous knowledge and support innovative farming, to enable farmer profitability. This marked the beginning of revival of regenerative agriculture in Araku via certified organic coffee plantations.

Today, Araku region is home to one of the world’s largest, certified organic, fairtrade, 100% Arabica coffee plantations. The word Araku, meaning ‘Red soil’ stands true to its name. Canopy of shade trees, planned meticulously around coffee farms stand tall in red, loamy soil amidst pure air and pristine streams.

Over the last 20 years, there has been a gradual evolution from eradication of debt to social and financial empowerment of over 100,000 farmers, helping them break away from intergenerational poverty.

Araku valley at the crossroads of the sea and the mountains

What began as a practise in small parcels of land spread far and wide in the last 20 years. Year after year, working in small plots of land, each farmer produces the finest shade-grown certified organic Arabica coffee . Chemical-free, regenerative farming nurtures these single-origin coffee farms, bringing the community together as family farming thrives. Co-existing in harmony with nature, the tribal farmers have worked hand-in-hand with global experts to build on their traditional knowledge and values to restore the region’s ecology.

The Araku experience, the pillar upon which quality and farmer profitability was built, can be summarised with the 3Ts - Traceability, Transparency, and Trust.

  • Traceability: For the team at Araku coffee, the understanding of traceability goes beyond merely tracing a product to a geographic location on the map. While each farm is GPS mapped, an additional understanding of the ‘personality’ of each plot comes from the concept of terroir, popularly used in the principles of wine making.
  • Transparency: At the core of our initiatives, lies Naandi’s commitment to ensure that all economic returns are ploughed back straight to the farmer families. In the production of Araku coffee, a shared value framework ensures that the farmer family makes consistent profits year on year. At Araku, we strive for complete transparency with both, our producers and buyers.
  • Trust In 2007, Naandi Foundation nudged the farmers to form an independent cooperative, known as Small and Marginal Tribal Farmers Mutually Aided Cooperative Society (SAMTFMACS, commonly known as MACS). With humble beginnings, today, MACS is one of the world’s largest organic, fair-trade certified coffee cooperatives, consisting of 11,000+ farmer families, each with a small land holding of 1-2 acres.

Naandi’s Agriculture Philosophy

This ‘Araku Way’ is now internationally recognised by New York based Rockefeller Foundation. In August 2020, Naandi’s vision ‘Arakunomics’ was recognised as a top global Visionary for the Food Vision 2050 prize. Inspired by the learnings of over two decades of engagement with the farmers, Arakunomics pays tribute to the tribal farmers of Araku. An integrated economic model, central to Arakunomics is the PQR framework, ensuring Profits for farmers, Quality for consumers and Regenerative agriculture for the agri-ecosystem.

Kimudu Venkamma & Kimudu Rambabu | Village: Baankubedda Doraguda, Araku

Our Experts

Sherri Johns, our Coffee Mentor, Barista Trainer and Head Judge of the Gems of Araku Competition, is an Authorized SCA Trainer (AST), former Cup of Excellence Head Judge, managing and leading national and international juries in 11 plus countries, including Brazil, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Colombia and East Africa. A globally recognized coffee expert, Sherri was 3-time Barista Champion in the first recorded Barista Championship in San Francisco which earned her the apt title of ‘Cappuccino Queen’. Apart from being an expert on the intricacies of coffee cupping and brewing the perfect cup, she’s also opened many multi-unit cafés all around the world.

David Hogg, Chief Agriculture Advisor. Since 2004, David has been advising for Araku Coffee and from 2009 heads the Livelihoods division of Naandi Foundation as its Chief Agriculture Advisor. In the course of David’s 50 years in India, he has taken a keen interest in developing sustainable coffee cultivation on the watersheds of Southern India. In 2003, he was appointed to the Indian Coffee Board Advisory Council for the Palni Region, was Co-Director of the BASIL Academy, Mysore and has been a past consultant to IFAD (International Fund for Agricultural Development) and FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) in India. David’s expertise lies in the curation and application of regenerative principles to the various fields of agriculture and to further develop regenerative protocols for sustainable coffee production.

In David’s role at Naandi he oversees sustainable livelihoods for Small and Marginal Farmers of Araku and gives expert input in supply chain management and the importance of shared value to ensure agriculture is profitable.