Marc Tormo Altimira is a coffee entrepreneur, roaster, brewer and creative consultant, with more than 20 years of international experience in the specialty coffee movement.
Brazilian by birth, Marc says his first visit to India was in 1988 and it was the Auroville chapter and the vision of Sri Aurobindo which made him move to and settle down in India. His first visit was with his family as a tourist, “but it created a big impact that made me come over and over until I settled,” says Marc. He says it was a turning point in his life when he discovered Eastern Philosophy and the richness of its spiritual practices.
From Barcelona to Bombay to Delhi and Kolkata, Marc’s search for the “ideal place”, lead him to the discovery of Auroville, where he now lives since 1996 and actively participates in many community projects. He says proudly that even today, “Auroville has more than 3000 regular residents with many other thousand volunteers that come to help and learn the concept of Auroville's ideals.”
He says cuisine and spirituality are the two things that he loves the most about India and explores. He loves to listen to Mantras, Ragas, Hindustani vocal, tabla and the flute.
His coffee journey started in Barcelona at the age of 23, when he opened a cafe boutique with his sister. Since then he’s never stopped learning and working with coffee. He learnt about coffee culture from his visits to Ethiopia and South America.
His coffee research is based on the concept of “From Seed to Cup”. It has inspired Marc to travel extensively across the Western Ghats in India, to exchange knowledge about all the processes that make a coffee a winner.
He founded Coffee Ideas! in 2008; one of the very first companies in India to roast high quality certified coffees ( bio-dynamic, organic, fair trade and UTZ certified ) in small batches for the Indian gourmet market, under the brand name of “Marc’s coffee” Indian Fine Coffees. “We practice the method from crop to cup (100% traceability), sustainable certifications (organic, rain forest alliance, UTZ), roasted in small batches with the help of software to ensure consistency.”
Marc’s cacao project, (2014) started with the aim to promote organic Indian Organic Premium Cacao, by establishing networks with organic cacao farmers and selling their raw cacao beans, under the brand name of “Marc’s Cacao”. He has visited cacao plantations, manufacturing units and attended conferences
and workshops in Ecuador and Colombia.
He promotes an eco-friendly way of growing coffee. “First and most important, growing coffee under the shade of a multi layered canopy, second it should be free of harmful herbicides, fungicides and pesticides. Third, the post harvesting should be done with the highest level to ensure excellent taste.”
At his café in Auroville, Marc conducted a session on coffee brewing at his café at the entrance of Auroville. He recounts to people the history of coffee. He says that Yemen was the only country in the world that originally grew and exported coffee. To make sure that the Mokha seeds stayed with them, Yemen coffee planters would boil the beans to kill the gem and make the seed infertile, says an Auroville resident who attended the session with Marc.
“The tale says that an Indian sulfi discovered the magic black drink during a meditative dance of the dervishes. The sulfi smuggled seven beans to India planting the crops in the hills of Karnataka. Today India is in the top ten of coffee exporters in the world.”
The speciality of Marc’s coffee is the way he roasts the seeds. His technique emphasises drying of seeds. He does that by sometimes drying the beans under the sun, of beans called natural coffees with a fruity tastes to retain the natural sugar, writes Luis Pape in Auroville.com. Another way is to remove the pup, and washing and fermenting it afterwards. The third way is to remove the pulp but not ferment it afterwards, just naturally dry the beans under the sun. Pape who attended the session says Marc explained “between these three coffee types is a huge huge huge difference, none of them is the best coffee, they are just very different”.
Asked if the coffee drinking tastes and traditions of Brazil and India are similar, Marc says no. “In Brazil coffee is consumed across the country and is usually black. In India it is drunk only in the south with milk and sugar, although the north is catching up as well as black coffee consumption. South Indian filter coffee has become very popular amongst foreign visitors.”