Rendezvous with Mr. Raj Kumar Banjara

Interview on Food & Wine Magazine, Dec 2016 Issue

2016 remained as the very important year in the history of Nepal coffee.
International Award
Nepal Coffee under the brand name of HimalayanArabica® has been awarded as the Best Gourmet Coffee of 2016 in Paris, France on 1st July 2016. The coffee has been recognised for Superior Taste and Flavour. Twenty-four coffee growing countries participated in the competition in five different categories and Nepal Coffee won the title of Produit Gourmet 2016. This is the very first time Nepal Coffee has been recognized internationally.

 National Award
Nepal Government Awards Greenland Organic Farm Pvt. Ltd., producer of Himalayan Arabica Coffee as the “Best Coffee Processor” on the auspicious occasion of 12th National Coffee Day on November 16, 2016. Hon. Gauri Shankar Chaudhary, Minister of Agricultural Development together with the Mr. Sheshkanta Gautam, Executive Director of Nepal Tea and Coffee Development Board (NTCDB) has handed over the award certificate.

In connection with the above mentioned awards and to join him in their passionate pursuit to produce Nepal’s best coffee for the world, we are exploring more about Greenland Organic farm, producer of Himalayan Arabica Nepali Coffee.

Raj Kumar Banjara, Managing Director of Greenland Organic Farm and the first Coffee Q Grader of Nepal has a passion to produce world-class specialty coffee in Nepal. He has been working in different sectors of coffee industry including, growing, processing, roasting and exporting Nepali coffee to the global market.

Rendezvous with Mr. Banjara
Q. Tell us about Greenland Organic Farm Pvt. Ltd.

Greenland Organic Farm is ‘cooperative based’ ethical coffee farm with over ten years of growing, processing, roasting and exporting the best Himalayan Arabica Specialty Coffee Nepal has to offer. We are growing coffee together with 465 individual households (representing approximately 2325 farmers) who are a part of 12 separate coffee cooperatives. We feel proud to be a farmer and we are dedicated to grow better crops each year.

“Our ethical approach and commitment of producing highest quality specialty coffee has been recognized. We would like to thank Nepal Government for motivating us to do even better in the days to come”

Q. What is HimalayanArabica Coffee?
HimalayanArabica® is an ethical, specialty Nepali coffee brand that produces the finest, organic, single variety, shade grown greens beans, artisan roasted beans and ready to brew drip coffees. HimalayanArabica Coffee stands for quality, transparency and sustainability of Nepalese coffee industry.

Q. How the idea came from about Himalayan Arabic Coffee?
I was always looking for something creative and something that contributes both to the society and a joyful living. Every Tuesdays we used to have a tea ceremony class in our university. It was fascinating and I was dreaming about our great Himalayan coffee. Later I found we have great Arabica beans in Nepal and that’s how HimalayanArabica® get birth.

Q. Inspiration, who are supporting your idea?
My associate farmers, my passionate partners and my production team including my wife and son are my real supporters. Moreover, I found my customers the great innovators and the critics. Every time when we add up a new product in our line then our customer were so constructive and present their valuable ideas and we are bound to adopt their creativity. My customers are the real inspiration for my idea.

Q. How you started the business?
Long story, short version – I was already into trading business. But I found Trading is ‘lifeless’. Production is a creation, is art and it has a life. You can enjoy both luxury of your life and citizens accountability through production than trading.

Q. What are the challenges of quality coffee production?
In whole production process from seed-to-cup you have only two choices – either you can maintain the original quality of coffee or you can deteriorate the quality going through every process. Our main challenge is to maintain closer to the original quality.

Q. What are the opportunities?
The biggest opportunity is you can be a proud contributor for the protection of ecosystem and biodiversity benefitting all human and global society. Specialized and unique export market and virtually no competition. At the same time, you can enjoy travelling, learning different cultures and life style of rural people. Indeed you can enjoy your life at fullest and sharing happiness.

Q: How would you describe the Nepal specialty coffee in present days?
Most of our coffees are ‘Premium grade’ and to promote it as ‘Specialty’ we really need a careful attention, deep understanding of Arabica coffee and a hard work to make it happen. Our coffees are of course – highland grown, shade grown, organically cultivated, Arabica varieties but these attributes doesn’t simply enough to rate as ‘specialty’. A through quality measures has to be considered from ‘selective picking’, ‘green grading’ to ‘right roasting’ to ensure the Specialty grade. Specialty coffees are ‘made’ and it is not just a regular/natural process of producing coffees.

“We need to understand the quality assessment protocols of grading coffee so that we can improve coffee and change lives of producers. Because you cannot simply produce great coffees rather great coffees are the result of dedication, passion and depth knowledge of production through cultivation to packaging. Q grader may be helpful disseminating all these ‘really important’ protocols to follow by farmers to importers.”

Q. What are your future plans?
Coffee is my life. I cannot go away from it. Every day we are thinking something new, something creative and something that really works out for all of us. We have introduced ‘Easy Drip Coffee’ in recent days and an exciting product is in the pipeline.
If you’re passionate about something, you’re almost always going to be rewarded eventually. If you go into business solely to make money, you’re almost guaranteed to fail. And we don’t want to fail. We do something great for us and for the society.

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