While one-half of The Local Collective loves tea to death like most Brits, the other half lives and breathes coffee. So much, that over the years has procured SIX different options of preparing a cup of Joe every morning. Whilst the traditional hot tea is still synonymous with the United Kingdom, coffee is closing in as the beverage of choice.
This is why when we heard from Veena, founder of Coromandel Coast, we were intrigued. Hailing from Chennai (which is situated on the stunning Coromandel Coast and hence the namesake of the brand), Veena grew up experiencing the old-world charms of the coffee estates, which is etched deeply in her memory. However , since moving to London, she felt compelled to tell the untold stories of her motherland, starting with her fond childhood memories that stemmed from coffee.
Veena realized that despite rigorous grading standards and sustainable horticultural practices, the coffees of India have still not received the recognition they deserve. Consequently, in 2017, Veena started Coromandel Coast, with a mission to put Indian coffee on the world map. While bringing the unique signature beans from India, Coromandel Coast caters to the tastes of the UK with their artisanal roasting based in Surrey. Roasting is carefully monitored in small batches to ensure quality in every batch. Furthermore, they are 100% single-use plastic-free and are working towards zero-waste by the end of this year.
What Coromandel Coast stands for is not just coffee. It is the journey it brings to the fascinating plantations of the Indian coffee estates that uniquely shares with other aromatic spices. It is the recognition given to quality and sustainability. Most importantly, it is the preservation of a rich heritage, spurred by the fond memories of an individual who has such profound love and respect for her birthplace.
Let's hear from Veena herself.
Hi Veena, tell us more about Coromandel Coast!
In a nutshell, Coromandel Coast hopes to protect biodiversity and fight climate change one cup at a time.
What inspired you to start this business in 2017?
India is associated with tea, spices, lavish weddings, loud colours. But where I grew up in South India, it is always surprised people when I tell them that we have a strong coffee culture and we also live a minimalist life. So I wanted to tell the untold story of India, one product at a time, starting with coffee.
As a entrepreneur of a small business, what keeps you going?
Our supporters, my daughter, and hope for a better planet.
Who are your role models that gets you motivated as an entrepreneur?
I have so many, with Steve Jobs and Bill Gates being huge role models. I also am inspired by Jacqueline Novogratz of Acumen, and Indira Nooyi of PepsiCo.
What are some of your highlights and challenges since starting your business?
Our biggest challenge was our search for plastic-free packaging. When I first started toying with the idea of Coromandel Coast Coffee, there weren't many plastic-free options available. It was inaccessible, and hence there was a disconnect with our values versus our packaging. However, that being said, it made our highlight sweeter -- While we are still in the process of using up our remaining bags as opposed to simply dumping it in the bin, we managed to be 100% single-use plastic-free since September 2018! We have also started our journey towards being 100% zero waste by end 2019 by starting a small skincare range using our used coffee grounds.
Our second challenge is the operations and nature of our business. We are a nao-roaster which means our per batch size is quite small. While it is truly artisanal, it can be time consuming and requires careful monitoring.
If you were to describe your brand in one sentence, what would it be?
Wow, this is a tough one. We are still in our early days and we are still evolving constantly. For now, I would describe Coromandel Coast as a purpose-driven brand preserving Indian heritage, backed by Nordic values, with UNSDGs as the impact North Star.
What are your hopes for your business in the future?
To be a sustainable lifestyle brand covering food, home and lifestyle.
What tips do you have for budding entrepreneurs?
The ugly truth is that most businesses fail as the founders quit too early in the game. If you believe in the product, persevere. It’s not easy but one must NOT quit.
Recommendations of books that you think helped you in your journey?
The Blue Sweater: Bridging the Gap Between Rich and Poor in an Interconnected World by Jacqueline Novogratz
Playing Big: Find Your Voice, Your Mission, Your Message by Tara Mohr
Mindset: How You Can Fulfil Your Potential by Carol Dweck
Thank you Veena for sharing with us!
The Local Collective
Our story-telling platform to tell the philosophies of local businesses all around the United Kingdom.