A Story Of Strength: Why Coffee And Sunalini Menon Know Each Other Well

In one sniff Sunalini Menon can tell you of its origin, its potency, its fragrance notes and more. Coffee may not be single malt but Sunalini of Coffeelab India has been getting nuanced experience in understanding coffees. She started this journey in 1971 and has been the pioneer of India’s specialty coffee revolution. She started out as an assistant cupper at the Coffee Board of India. Much before the startup revolution gripped the country, Sunalini turned to entrepreneurship. In 1996 she set up a consulting service for the Indian coffee growers called Coffeelab Ltd.

Sunalini is among the few women with a specialty career like this. Her success makes her believe women can scale every possible frontier. “Knowledge is power – the phrase is apt for women in any field. If we women want to get into a man’s field, we need to know or be knowledgeable of more than what they know or have knowledge of,” Sunalini shares

With over 40 years of experience in coffee, she has worked as a quality evaluator, trainer, coffee blender, developer of green coffee brands, as jury of coffee competitions, writer of coffee articles, and even a coffee guide to new coffee entrepreneurs. No wonder Sunalini is the “Quality Ombudsman” of the Speciality Coffee Association of India.

“There should be more women participating in the field as coffee tasters. Women have a born trait,” says Sunalini refers to their attention to details, something that’s a great tool for this business.

The independent director of M/s. Tata Coffee Limited, one of India’s leading producers and exporters of coffee, Sunalini is known as India’s first woman coffee taster. We at SheThePeople gets candid with Ms. Menon whilst sipping a hot cup of coffee (of course!) to get to know her entry into the world of coffee and what future holds for the coffee industry in India.