7th APRIL 2015 - Vol.XXXVIII No.018
Local News

Sunalini Menon tastes global success with US award...

ASIA's first professional female coffee taster is in the spotlight once again after nearly four decades of travelling the globe to find the world's most exquisite coffee beans.

The former Bahrain resident, Sunalini Menon, has managed to receive yet another award for her tremendous contributions to the coffee industry.

Ms Menon was awarded with the Leadership Medal of Merit by the Coffee Quality Institute (CQI) at an event that took place in California.

The institute is the research and development arm of the Specialty Coffee Association of America.

"What makes this particularly special is that this is perhaps the first time that a woman has been awarded this prestigious award by the CQI of America," said her husband Narayan Menon, former top executive at Taib Bank, in an e-mail to the GDN.

"An added significance is that this is the first time that an Indian national, someone from a coffee producing country, has been selected for this award."

The CQI acknowledged her outstanding contribution to the coffee industry and her focus on quality and training in the coffee field.

Thanks to her years in the industry and her advanced skills, she is able to tell you where specific beans came from, how they were processed and what can be done to improve them - after just one sip.

Ms Menon has a Master's degree in food technology from the Women's Christian College in South India.

Her career started when she joined the state-run Coffee Board of India in 1972, where all the farmers of the time used to submit their produce for marketing and sale.

In 1996, with the liberalisation of the coffee market in India, Mrs Menon left the board to open Coffeelab - a business she still runs today.

The company evaluates coffee, provides education, consultancy and training to growers and can help farmers brand their produce to find more specialist markets.

Coffeelab is the first of its kind to be established in the private sector.

Her career has garnered her a long list of awards, including the 2005 Lifetime Achievement Award by the International Women's Coffee Alliance (IWCA).

She was also awarded the People of the Year Award 2002 by the Tea and Coffee Trade Journal in the US and the Eminent Personality Award for outstanding contribution to Indian coffee by the Speciality Coffee Association of India in 2005.

Coffeelab was awarded with the 2006 Hidden Treasure Award by the Speciality Coffee Association of America.

Ms Menon is also a popular presenter at international industry conferences. She could not be reached for comment.

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