Araku Coffee Museum: Experience Native Brew, Chocolate And More
Image Credit: Araku Coffee Musuem, Ranita Ray

For a coffee enthusiast, a visit to Araku is a must. This valley in the Eastern Ghats of Andhra Pradesh is much more than its fame as a touristy hill station. All these years of being a resident of Visakhapatnam, I have lost count of my trips to Araku. Located about 115 kilometres by road, this has been a weekend getaway for many, and I am no exception. But this time, while driving through the meandering curves and turns of the ghat roads closer to Araku, the verdant greenery along the way dotted with peppercorn, coffee, and several native spices took me a tad closer to this valley. The explorer in me tried to observe beyond the tourist's purview. And that's how I landed at the Araku Coffee Museum. It is a first-of-its-kind thematic coffee museum in India. Before you pass it on by assuming as just another boring place, think again. A lot can happen over Araku coffee, chocolate, spices and more. 

Coffee Journey: A walk tracing the origin to the evolution of coffee

Right at the coffee art gallery's entry lies a giant wheel tagged as a coffee taster's flavour wheel. One needs to experience it in person to understand it better. 

Coffee taster's flavour wheel, Image Source: Ranita Ray

The museum, which opened in 2006, is privately owned and operated. It displays tableaux with figurines depicting the discovery of coffee beans (berries) by Kaldi, a goatherd in Ethiopia, its steady evolution in different eras, travel around the world, and its introduction into Araku. The murals also illustrate the journey of coffee from berries to ground, roasted, and brewed in a cup. 

The first tableau depicting discovery of coffee, Image Source: Ranita Ray

Each tableau has vivid visual representations with statues mimicking the notable incidents and a detailed written description placed in front of it. On both sides of the tableaux, there are antique and vintage utensils, cookware, machinery-related coffee production, processing to serving. 

Entry of coffee to Andhra Pradesh, Image By: Ranita Ray

This is where you will learn that N.S. Brodie, a British civil servant, introduced the Rampa Agency of the East Godavari district to coffee plants in 1898. However, the cultivation wasn't successful. Maharajas of Orissa Jeypore and British revenue officers played critical roles in the second phase of the introduction. Around 1920, a few Arabica coffee plantations were established in the Araku and Ananthagiri Agencies of the Visakhapatnam district, with seed supplied from the Nilgiris of Tamil Nadu. The Araku tribal farmers have been farming coffee since the colonial inception of the plantations in Andhra Pradesh. 

Tableau depicting Araku Coffee House

What's brewing?

Arakuvalley Coffee House is the segment which offers as many as 21 varieties of coffee beverages. It begins with Ethnic, which has 70% Arabica, and Robusta coffee blended with 30% chicory. Next is Authentic with 80% Arabica and Robusta coffee blended with 20% chicory. Arabica is the high-grown Araku valley arabica counted among the world's finest coffee with a mild yet intense flavour. A must-try is the Coffee with Intercrop Spices, which is a South Indian filter coffee flavoured with a choice of spices such as cinnamon, pepper etc. 

Coffee with intercrop spices with muffin, Image By: Ranita Ray

Of 21 types, seven belong to traditional Italian espresso and have options such as Espresso, Doppio Espresso, Americano, Con Panna, Macchiato, Vienna, Mexicano, Red Eye and Affogato. Doppio Espresso is for those who want to experience the strong kick of caffeine. The last seven on the list are milk-based coffees or espresso. It includes Cappuccino, Caffe Latte, Flat White, Mocha, White Mocha and Breve. Each of the 21 items has a description of the concoction, and one can always ask the counter's friendly staff for suggestions.

Baked goodies, chocolates and more

Opposite the Coffee House lies the segment with almost an exhaustive range of chocolates. I was told there are over 1000 assortments of handmade chocolates available here. Few of them have typical packaging while most of the other variants are sold lose or purchased on unit or weight wise. Apparently, the chocolate made here is from native cacaos, which are cultivated in nearby pockets of land. These choco treats have a distinct taste and are addictive. After tasting 100-200 grams of a variety of chocolates, I was still deciding which one to settle for. 

Araku Valley artisan chocolates, Image By: Ranita Ray

Well, there are Araku Valley artisan chocolates in hyper-local flavours like filter coffee (dark chocolate filled with rich coffee ganache). Similarly, one may opt for what they call Intercrop Spicy Chocolate which has flavours such as mace, star anise and even cumin.

Assorted handcrafted local chocolates

By now, it is natural for anyone to be overwhelmed with an overdose of chocolate. That is when the indigenously produced spices come to your rescue. Among its mind-boggling range of products, peppercorns are must buy. Of course, an array of coffee beans and powder is also available. Araku is famous for Arabica and can be a part of your takeaway list. 


Tribal and coffee theme cafeteria, Image by: Ranita Ray 

Following the knowledge-inducing session about the evolution of coffee by the museum and a sweet-spice experience at the inhouse-store, you can settle in its tribal-themed cafeteria. Don't forget to enjoy your cup of coffee by pairing it with freshly baked goodies like cookies, muffins, brownies or sandwiches. 

There is also a handicraft artefacts counter which sells a blend of tribal, the state's famous local products. The evenings become even more vibrant with few other food alfresco outlets. 

The Araku Coffee Museum lets visitors learn about the history of coffee and its variety and experience the complete production process and its journey to the cup. 

Timings: 8.00 am to 8.00 pm (Everyday).