The North East of India, with its rolling hills and verdant plantations, has long been synonymous with tea. Coffee – that dark, moody brew, lightened with milk, and frothed to perfection by rigorous pouring and mixing – largely remained a South Indian phenomenon, with most of the plantations located in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. But as the Indian economy opened up, global café chains such as Costa Coffee and Starbucks set up shop and took coffee to various parts of the country.
They were followed by entrepreneurs who rode the artisanal wave and introduced Indians to pourovers and Chemex. And now, in the North East too, there is a silent coffee storm brewing, thanks to a handful of cafes, roasters, government-backed guilds and organic farmers, who are betting big on locally-grown coffee.