Ever wondered how coffee is made? Coorg is the place to go to when in India then.
Coorg is a district in the Karnataka state in the south of India that is very well-known for the amazing coffee grown in the area as well as rice and it is these agricultural practices what keeps the district alive. The Kodavas or ethnic people of Coorg where the first agriculturists in the state and have a very rich oral culture that has been passed on from generation to generation. Their traditions have been translated into the plantations and not only coffee, there’s also rice and many other fruits and vegetables.
The main town in Coorg is Madikeri, with about 30, 000 people, it is a very relaxed town to come stay over the weekend and just relax by the mountains with an amazing cup of locally grown coffee and the best part is you get to see the whole process of coffee planting and production.
Here’s how coffee is made:
1. This is a coffee plant and there several different types of plants that give the coffee beans a more robust flavor.
The first step is to put about 20 seeds in a hole just when the rainy season starts because only half of them will actually survive and sprout. The main type of coffee plants are Arabica or Robusta; about 3/4 of coffee cultivation is for Arabica because it has a sweeter taste to it and lighter body and the other quarter of the world drinks Robusta which is more bitter but has a richer body that is used to make wonderful espresso coffees, containing 40-50% more caffeine than Arabica.
The plantation method used in most farms in Madikeri and most of Coorg for that matter, is shade-grown. The area is so rich in all kinds of tall trees that the shade of the trees protects the crops from not receiving a lot of sun and therefore avoiding too many pests. It is the preferred method in the area to avoid any clearing of trees of the wonderful outdoors. But being that this method is slower and more expensive than more modern free-of-shade methods farmers are switching more and more to the higher yield production methods. In shade-grown coffee plants, the taste is much more flavorful so passionate coffee farmers will maintain this practice to produce the best coffee and also to avoid the use of pesticides.
2. The coffee berries, are then picked by hand and only the best, ripe berries are selected giving coffee a much better taste than from mass recollection where not all berries might be ready for production. The berries are then separated from the seed, ripping off the skin that many farmers will use for cooking or wine production.
3. The seeds then undergo a slight fermentation process where there are left in water for several days to wash off the pulp surrounding the seed. The seeds are then ready for the drying process on raised beds which allows air to pass on all sides of the coffee and dry evenly and then the coffee is then mixed by hand.
4. Finally the coffee is exported as green beans or in other cases fully dried on flat concrete by the sun and then exported as sun-dried coffee beans that will undergo the roasting process at their final destination to preserve the flavor and for vendors to provide a fresher coffee for their consumers.
At the plantation I stayed, the owners roasted their own coffee for the household and this was by far the best coffee I have ever had in my entire life! The flavor was like nothing I’ve tried before and the fact that I could see and touch the land where my cup of joe was born, a priceless experience.
I highly recommend heading out to Coorg and stay at a coffee plantation which are usually more expensive than the lodges but trust me totally worth the experience. I didn’t book in advance before heading out here but luckily found an awesome home stay. The plantation owners were the best hosts, we truly felt at home, they cooked breakfast and dinner for us and provided us with free coffee and tea throughout the day. The price will depend on the season and the amount of people but between $30-50 USD for a room with two double beds and breakfast included. VERY reasonable! If you ask nicely the owners will take you around their land and show you many of their other plantations; pineapple, pepper trees, cardamom, fig amongst others. There are many other stays along the way, just walk from the city about five km and there are many options as well.
Here is the info for the home stay:
Allaranda Home Stay
Allaranda Ranaga Chavadi
Karavale Badaga, Colle post
Galibeedu Rd, Madakeri-571 201
Phone: +91 9448312310
Stay tuned on a post of things to do in Madikeri, the main town in Coorg and other spots to check out and stay options.