Dora cannot forget the day when the aroma of coffee bowled her over. As a coffee supply chain coordinator, it was normal for her to see the coffee being roasted and evaluated in the lab by the traders and cuppers in the Global Brewed Beverages (GBB) team. For many, it may have appeared like just another job. But there was something that Dora loved about it.
The aroma and the novelty of evaluating coffee was always enticing to me and I would go into the lab just for therapeutic purpose,” Dora recalls of the early days when she had joined the industry. Unknown to her in the early days, the sensory abilities – the special skill that helps identify great coffee beans from ones that are just good – were growing.
Dora would find every opportunity to visit the lab as often as she could and observe the sensory evaluation process, gleefully participating in tasting prototypes that the team was developing for Georgia in India. Soon enough she expressed interest in trying her hand at coffee tasting and found it very “therapeutic.” Impressed with her ability to quickly grasp ‘sensoric’ nuances, the core team involved her full-time on quality control and over the years, she’s grown to a position of managing the quality process for the Brewed Business.
18 years after she joined the industry, coffee evaluating has only got better. Dora is now one of only two women in India to be licensed Q Arabica and Q Robusta graders by the Coffee Quality Institute (CQI), a global industry body that works to improve the quality of coffee and the lives of people associated with the industry. It is one of the top certifications to get in the coffee industry around the world.
“It has been my privilege to be associated with The Coca-Cola Company and I have learnt from my colleagues. I am also fortunate to be mentored by Ms. Sunalini Menon, global coffee expert and also India’s first lady with double Q-certifications as well as my manager, Deepak Khanvilkar,” Dora said.
In another industry recognition recently, Dora was chosen as one of 12 women who have made an impact on the coffee industry in India. The two decades of hard work that she has put in the industry is now doing the talking.
She could never have imagined doing this when she graduated in microbiology from St. Aloysius College, Mangalore. She had joined The Coca-Cola Company to assist the backend team for coffee trading before her organoleptic senses succumbed to the heady lure of coffee tasting.
“Dora is a very valuable member of the team. I’m particularly proud to see her fast gaining recognition in the Indian coffee industry and have no doubt that she’ll soon also become an expert of international acclaim. Dora’s extremely passionate about coffee and as a trainer in GBB’s coffee capability building program, she teaches with an unbridled enthusiasm that rubs off on participants, many of whom are international associates,” Deepak Khanvilkar, Global Director, Brewed Beverages, The Coca-Cola Company.
Making the brew special for coffee lovers
A coffee is a coffee is a coffee, many would say. For them, there can hardly be any difference between the instant coffee and the other offerings that are available at coffee bars or even the roadside coffee shops. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Most of the coffee consumed in India is in the traditional South Indian filter coffee form brewed with some chicory. The palate of most Indians is used to this taste and that is difficult to change. However, a large segment of coffee connoisseurs now demand and expect coffees to satiate their passion for a unique experience in their cuppa. Understanding the key attributes of Arabica and Robusta from region-to-region and working within the variations thrown up by seasonal vagaries of an agricultural produce, make the task of coffee experts even more unique.
That is where specialists like Dora and her co-cuppers, come in. Having worked through the entire value chain of the coffee industry – international trading, logistics and freight management, workshops and training, roasting and quality control – Dora has experienced it firsthand. Adept at understanding in equal measure, the culturally-driven taste profile of people across different regions, as well as current consumer preferences, Dora can enrich the coffee experience of people.
Dora and the entire Global Brewed Beverages team are committed to enhancing the experience of consumers of The Coca-Cola Company’s Georgia and Chaqwa products. As an integral part of the expert sensory team, she has contributed significantly in the creation of various coffee blends for India’s brewed beverage markets around the globe.
Dora is a committee member of Women’s Coffee Alliance India Chapter, which runs a charitable trust, working for empowering women coffee plantation workers and their girl children. It is a cause that she has been committed to.