A brewing conversation with the coffee connoisseur Mr.Saumay Khandelwal
Where did this idea of Home Blend Coffee come from?
Saumay Khandelwal:- I had ventured into the coffee business in 2012. Since my family came from a background of agro-commodity trading, I wanted to set up my own coffee bean processing plant in Indonesia.
The experience and time put into processing coffee and running a coffee dry mill brought me to the level that I was eventually selling raw coffee beans to one of the world’s largest and most prominent agro-commodity trading firm.
As I was exploring new business opportunities in Canada, my partner who had just recently come back to India from UK was taken aback by the shift in the coffee market in India.
Saumay Khandelwal:- We spoke at length and decided to vertically integrate into coffee roasting and explore the ‘freshly roasted’ market that had already been initiated by a couple of players, and thought that, at Home Blend we would keep our niche as ‘ Specialty Grade Coffee Only’– The finest grades available in India and Indonesia that come from the most established, reputed and prominent processors of coffee.
Is it better to use beans than to use instant coffee? Why?
Saumay Khandelwal:- It’s like asking if you would prefer fresh food over frozen or pre-cooked, processed food!
When we take instant coffee, we don’t realize the fact that it is generally the low-quality waste ‘BBB’ i.e. browns, blacks and broken beans (major defects of coffee) that is roasted and has been brewed a long time back, then processed & powdered by spray freezing. This in turn makes the beverage stale, bitter and void of aroma.
Saumay Khandelwal:- At Home Blend, we roast our coffee fresh every day and pack it on order in the form of whole beans or grounds, which is the most natural form of coffee. When you choose a particular bean, roasted at a particular level, the coffee beans or grounds will give you a unique flavor profile such as fruity, citric, winey, chocolate, etc. The mouth feel, body and aroma of the coffee is unique as well. I believe India has completely missed the real coffee drinking experience, to introduce which, is a part of my mission at Home Blend.
Sir, please tell us about your responsibilities as a Commodity Trading Manager?
Saumay Khandelwal:- Unlike how most coffee roasters want to market themselves as ‘direct trade’ or ‘farm to table’, I understand that the journey from plantations to the roastery involves huge processing units that play a major role in determining the quality, size, defects, and grade of coffee beans. Hence, if done manually only, without the aid of sorting machines and technology, it is difficult for one to ascertain the quality of coffee beans.
Saumay Khandelwal:- I ensure that the beans I source are of the highest quality, have undergone processing with the most technologically advanced machines, and further, get them manually checked before roasting each batch of coffee. This is my duty as a specialty coffee connoisseur, coffee roaster and a brand owner at Home Blend.
You are a certified Coffee Connoisseur. What all have you learnt in it?
Saumay Khandelwal:- I traveled to North America for my training in coffee at a Specialty Coffee Association (www.sca.coffee) certified lab.
Specialty Coffee Association is an international organization that encompasses everything coffee at a global scale. Major coffee roasters get themselves certified from SCA.
Saumay Khandelwal:- I have 8 certifications covering all the five fields of coffee – green (raw) beans, coffee roasting, sensory, barista & brewing.
To get themselves certified people generally have to travel abroad, since most of the courses are not offered in India.
Tell us about your drip coffee bags and its specialty?
Our initiative to make the shift from bitter instant coffee, to a cup of freshly brewed quality coffee made us ideate of the most convenient way to achieve this.
Home Blend Drip Coffee Bags are filter bags that contain freshly roasted, specialty grade coffee grounds. Similar to tea bags, rather pour-overs – drip bags are a convenient way of instantly brewing your whole bean coffee fresh, without any equipment – just tear the seal, place it onto a cup, and pour hot water through the bag! Voila – your freshly brewed cup is ready to consume!
Saumay Khandelwal:- Rather than having our customers spend time, money and effort to buy and use coffee brewing equipment, we thought of bringing an equipment-free and environmentally friendly solution to brew coffee – all you need is hot water!
Furthermore, drip bags are a mobile coffee-on-go solution for frequent travelers, coffee lovers, and an economical replacement for instant coffee. After brewing with the drips, you can dispose the used coffee grounds into plants (as manure) or use them as a face pack once they cool down.
What special are you trying to contribute to the world of coffee lovers by Home Blend?
Saumay Khandelwal:- At Home Blend’s coffee roastery, we use a boutique process. Every batch of coffee is unique for each institutional or retail customer. We start with understanding our customer’s needs and developing unique profiles for them. Coffee is roasted fresh using a software to maintain desired roast levels, flavor profiles, and bean variants to suit the customer’s needs.
Saumay Khandelwal:- Home Blend’s niche is in the fact that we only use the most exotic and highest specialty grades of coffee – like Sumatra’s famous Grade 1, Triple Picked – Mandheling ; Malabar Coast’s Monsooned Malabar AA Grade; Mysore Nuggets Extra Bold or AAA grade.
Saumay Khandelwal:- Our Drip Bags contain a unique blend of roast levels that is tailor-made to suit the Indian tea-drinker’s palate. Since the roast is on a lighter side, the coffee contains high levels of chlorogenic acid or anti-oxidants that invigorates the body and mind and also has anti-aging properties. It is also suitable to take as a pre-workout before exercise.
What are your future expansion plans regarding Home Blend?
Saumay Khandelwal:- Coffee is a passion for both myself and my partner. We want to educate the market in India and across borders from the bean to cup. Each bean has a unique flavor profile, body and mouth-feel depending on the altitude and region, where it grows.
Our plan is to educate our customers about the fact that instead of being a commodity or a lifestyle beverage, coffee can be a daily beverage that one can explore and start their journey with.
Saumay Khandelwal:- To do this, we plan to expand the reach of export-grade specialty coffee to Metropolises globally, and subsequently to smaller cities and districts.
Once we have a strong presence in both retail and institutional channels across the spectrum, our idea is to open small coffee roasteries and chains to further culminate a coffee culture for the discerning coffee connoisseurs of the world.
Thanks for your precious time!!