CALL FROM BEANS AND BERRIE
CALL FROM BEANS AND BERRIES -- COORG, AN ENCHANTING COFFEE DISTRICT FOR
To know about your coffee, it is essential to have a plantation tour to Coorg ( Kodagu). Coorg is an enchanting coffee growing district tugged in the Western Ghats of Karnataka ( India), the place of perfect berry that has become everybody’s heady muse. History has it, that Coffee was introduced to India through Chikamagalur, when the initial crop was Grown in the Baba Budangiri Hills in 1670 AD by Sufi Saint Baba Budan, who had brought in beans from the port of Mocha in Yemen.
It was in the year 1857, the first plantation was opened in the Southern Coorg by the British. With in a period of 37 years, I.e in 1894, Coffee Plantation spread over 28,733 hectares. Much of the coffee was reared by the coffee planters from Ceylon. However, the Coffee Estates there were ravaged by severe attacks of leaf disease . Though the Ceylon planters had started to grow coffee in the South India, many of the early estates were wiped out by pests on account of the failure to provide arrangements of shade. However, things began to change when the Mysore practice of growing coffee under shade was introduced, with the result the coffee estates made a steady progress . In the 1890s, Coorg produced 4000 to 5000 tonnes of coffee per annum and average yields stood in the range of 370 to 495 kg/hectare.
Coffee growing is regarded more as a culture than occupation by the people in Coorg. Coorg is a fascinating coffee growing destination to be visited, where the canopy of the plantation is so thick and lovely. The abundant rains and cool air of Coorg are a great blessing for the coffee crop.
Robusta and Arabiata are two major varieties of Coffee in India.Compared to Robusta, Arabiata is not so easy to be cultivated and raised as same needs to be given greater care and usually it dies within a period of four years. On the other hand, Robusta is a sturdy variety and lasts long and also easy to be reared with little care. However, both these varieties are important for the coffee growers in the Coorg Coffee Estate and the people consider the coffee trees as their landmarks.
There are fixed working hours for the workers in the coffee estate to pluck the berries.Usually, they work until noon with a short lunch break for one hour and again resume their duties until 5 PM. The care they take to prune the coffee trees is very interesting to be observed .The workers ensure that the overgrown shoots are cut off from the coffee trees after plucking the berries. Only the berries, which are found raw and semi-ripe are plucked from the trees.Thereafter, the berries so plucked and collected are spread on mats and left to ripen for about 10 days.
On ripening, they are taken to the grinding machines.Each plantation has a different method of brewing coffee. Some prefer coffee entirely from Robusta Beans ; while others prefer to go for the blend of two varieties of coffee viz. made from Robusta and Arabi ca beans. Famous Italian Coffees like Espresso and Cappuccino are made with a blend of 60 per cent Arabica and 40 per cent Robusta beans. However, the Italians prefer the delicate flavors of the Arabica beans. Indian Coffee is a blend of 50 per cent raw Arabica, 30 per cent Robusta and 20 per cent chicory.
It is very interesting to know that Coffee beans have upto 800 different flavor characteristics. Green coffee beans do not taste much. In fact, coffee taste depends upon the roasting technique and process. Simple sugars and carbohydrates inside the green beans begin to caramelize at 4000F/ 2050C, creating over 800 different flavor components ( water soluble coffee oils).
Following are certain terms describing the characteristics of coffee.
AROMA - The smell of the coffee.
FRAGRANCE - The smell of the coffee grinds.
BODY - The way the coffee feels in your mouth viz. the feeling of weight and texture.
RICH - The coffee that has more than body and aroma. It is also buttery and satisfying.
MELLOW - The coffee has a fully – developed body; not harsh.
ACIDTY - Arabica beans are famous for having this characteristic.
Where does the world’s most exotic coffee come from? Will it surprise you, if this coffee is said to come from cat ? It will be hard to believe but it is a fact to be accepted. Kopi Luwak or Civet Coffee refers to the beans of coffee berries, once they have been eaten and excreted by a cat called the Asian Palm Civet.The Asian Palm Civet is extremely choosy when it comes to eating the berries. It selects only the very best Coffee berries to eat. Unfortunately, the animal can not digest the berries and
secretes them resulting in one of the finest coffee in the world. This coffee also happens to be the most expensive coffee in the world and is priced at $ 600 per 5oo grams.There are many other top varieties of coffee available in the world viz. Coffee like La Esmeralda known as Esmeralda Special produced in the Esmeralda farms of West Panama under cold weather conditions. Also, St. Helene Coffee produced in the small island of Saint Helena. It is made from the Green Tipped Bourbon Arabica, the very expensive one. Another variety is Fazenda Santa lines Coffee that comes from Minas Gerais in Brazil. Its taste is characterized by the sweetness of Caramel and berries. There is also Blue Mountain Coffee produced on Blue Mountains in Jamaica.It is famous for its mild taste. Interestingly, its beans are from the base of the liquor - Tia Maria. Blue Mountain is also costly coffee.
Now head to a Coffee Estate in Coorg or Kodagu in the Western Ghats of Karnataka and get soaked in the fragrance of coffee flowers that always stay over here like perfume.
The hills of this enchanting Coffee District have many stories to tell about the history of the Coffee. It will be an unforgettable experience for the visitors coming to Coorg, where they can enjoy the beautiful sight of the berries of bright hue held together in clusters on the coffee trees and imbibe the mountain air carrying its fragrance all over the place. History has it that Napoleon Bonaparte had a great fascination for coffee,as can be inferred from his comments about it. He is reported to have said “ I would rather suffer with coffee than be senseless “ . These comments point out that he was an ardent coffee lover . He is even reported to have said that coffee gave him “warmth” , the awakening and the “force” to help him conquer !
(Contact : Josey Tours and Travels to arrange your exciting plantation tour to Coorg or Kodagu )
Dear Mr. Sreekanth.
Thank you very much for organising this tour for us. It is well planned and organised. We have really enjoyed the trip. Accommodation was very good. Food and hospitality was very good in the houseboat.
I will definitely recommend my friends, if they are planning to visit kerala.