A group of first generation coffee roasters in Nagaland are doing their bit to popularize organic coffee from the State and also add to the local economy.
Été Coffee, the first coffee roasting company in Nagaland, was founded by the enterprising Lichan Humtsoe in 2016. The word ‘Ete’ comes from a Naga word for ‘us’ or ‘ours’; it simply implies cutting across clans and tribes. Naga being a multi-tribal community, the team at Été Coffee wants to advocate unity.
The production unit is based in Kohima, Nagaland. The coffee itself is sourced from four districts of Nagaland namely Mon, Wokha, Mokokchung and Kohima.
Of course, the team behind this company do love their coffee like a lot of people across the globe but that is not the only reason why they chose to take the step. ‘The entire philosophy of the company is based on one simple truth, that is, every single person should stand on their own. In our State, 90-95% of the population depends on the government economy—directly or indirectly. Which means if you are not part of the government system, you are nowhere. The number of graduates we are churning out each year is staggering and because of the unemployment problem, these graduates become a liability to the society. Therefore, we chose to step outside the norm and start something on our own.’ The team aims to provide sustainable employment opportunities and make optimum use of the State’s potential in agro-based farming.
Now almost all famous brands have famous taglines, for some the tagline is just another catchy phrase to put on a t-shirt but for Été Coffee, their tagline, ‘justice a cup’, shows consumers just how much thought has gone into the product and the brand. ‘Été Coffee is a for profit organisation like any other serious business out there. What makes us different is the fact that for the most part, we stick to enabling justice in every step of the process chain. The growers are not exploited, the employees are sustainably employed, we put ethical values over all aspects of the business, and lastly, we want to do it while responsibly imparting the right knowledge and sharing it religiously to all to grow as a community.’
It is interesting to note that 10% of the company’s proceeds called EYF (Employability of Youth Fund) is kept aside to sponsor local youth who are willing to undergo skills training in order to become employable in different sectors.
In two years of the company’s existence, the team has sold over 12,000 coffee packets all across India and a few abroad through direct sale, retailers, cafes and via the official online shopping site. The team comprises of 17 members, excluding the growers. ‘Few are full time, most are part-time and we have a few volunteers.’ The company own its own farm, as well as a Roastery and Coffee bar, which is the first-of-its-kind in the Northeast.
Of course, the road hasn’t been easy for the team. They still struggle with the consistency of quality of beans since most of the farmers they work with are first generation coffee growers. ‘Also, the farms are scattered in smalls pockets in various parts of the State making it difficult for us to provide the same beans for cafes and serious clients who want the same beans from one single origin throughout the year. Courier system is another major hurdle, it is either too slow or unsafe.’
Even with all the challenges, the team is working hard every day to ensure coffee lovers are never left disappointed. They are currently selling 5 different packs, which are available at Ete Coffee Roastery and the official shopping site. They are also available in various outlets in Kohima, including The Local Store and a few others. Depending on the weight, the price can range anywhere from INR 120 to INR 2400. They ship PAN India so you have no excuse not to try it out for yourself because we all know that everything gets better with coffee.
By Meeta Borah