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Saturday, 8 November 2008

Marc Tormo was born in Valencia in 1971. After finishing high school in Spain, he traveled India in the year 1992, and realized India would be eventually his “home”. However, he found himself too young at that time to settle right away in the country and decided he should go back home for now in order to acquire some professional knowledge.

Along with his family, mainly his sister who was already in the hospitality business, they developed a new coffee-shop concept that proved very successful. Benefiting from some professional Italian training, it was a great experience and it is during the next 3 years that Marc gained his current expertise in the coffee scene: knowledge about coffee beans quality, art of coffee roasting and grinding, style of serving, etc… Eventually, “it was the best training I could ever had in terms of entrepreneurship”, says Marc, since the whole venture also included issues related to employees, taxes, accounts, quality control, customer care, supply chain etc…

At one point Marc thought he had completed the training he was looking for, but the situation in Spain and his own inner aspiration were not matching, and he knew that Auroville, Pondicherry and India were calling…
He eventually came and settled in Auroville with his wife Matilde in 1997, and started considering again the hospitality business in the local context…: how to run a restaurant or a café in India was his first approach… What would be to establish a catering business with local people, local ingredients, and within the context of Auroville and India at large?

By the end of the nineties, Marc had worked in all the Auroville restaurants and cafeterias, hence coming to know exactly what the people like mostly and how they want it… This first step brought him to offer his expertise and be a consultant to assist people opening their own cafés outside Pondicherry and Auroville, like in Chennai, in Bangalore, in Kerala, as well as in North India…

Simultaneously, and in order to choose the best coffee available on the market, Marc considered going up to the business roots and he started showing interest in coffee plantations and cultivation, as India is a coffee producer country. Moreover, he went to realize that coffee could be grown organically, which he was not aware first, neither of the social issues related to coffee harvesting etc…
As a result Marc started traveling extensively to places like Kodaikanal, Kerala and Coorg where he discovered a few plantations very dedicated to organic coffee. He then happened to market those plantations products in the right way, offering since then and for the past five years consultancy and marketing to selected coffee growers.

His latest project to satisfy coffee lovers is “Le Café” in Pondicherry. “Le Café” is a prime building on Pondy seashore run by the Puduchery Development Tourism Corporation that didn’t want to privatize the place, and yet was aware that the place could no longer be managed the way it was… While the building has been fully renovated by INTACH, Marc has been in charge of upgrading both products and services and “Le Café” is now regarded as a prime selected tourist spot in Pondicherry, where one can taste a real espresso coffee while enjoying the sea breeze…
In Auroville itself, above the Solar Kitchen “La Terrace” has been recently fully renovated as well, like for “Le Café”: new building, new menu, and new people to run the place, as it is now managed by the Solar Kitchen team.

As for the future, Marc sees his involvement more into the roasting coffee business, from choosing the beans on selected organic growing places, to packaging and distribution: “India is now ready for a real coffee experience”, says Marc, “with a strong and delicate flavor, with social and ecological issues attached to it, with a good packaging…; even the middle class is now ready to pay a little bit more for an exclusive product, whereas ten years back it was not possible…”…
Even though the present market is still a very niche one, Marc is confident in the next five to eight years it will become a substantial market, not only in India, but worldwide as well: the organic coffee market is indeed developing every year, with a current approx 25% growth annually…
Marc sees this perspective as not only selling a premium product, but instead offering a whole concept behind, since a product can serve as well as a medium to express one’s concerns, personal taste, commitments…
That’s what motivates Marc currently for developing exclusive coffee brands that, apart to the public at large, will be proposed also to selected outlets that would guaranty the various coffees would be offered in the best possible environment, thanks to proper equipment and services… Should those be missing, then Marc would offer a training to ensure best possible exposure of the products. This may concern hotels, hotel chains, and entrepreneurs willing to open their own coffee shops since franchises might be tempting, but although good in many aspects, still they remain eventually very impersonal… And Marc would rather be helping people willing to do something different by themselves, at all levels, be it villagers who wish to open a small coffee-shop in local villages, or owners of 5 stars hotels planning to offer something new and thrilling to their clientele…

Marc is confident he can process and sell 10 to 12 tons per year to start with… Aiming at 40 to 50 tons by 2012, with a proper 500 sq meters model factory set up in the Auroville Industrial Zone…
We look forward to see Marc’s exclusive coffee beans and powders more and more on Indian shelves and cafés…!

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