In November I was lucky enough to go to Coorg, India. I went to visit a few of the farms that we have bought coffee from before with the hope to explore new ways we could work together. While I was there, I was graciously hosted by Akshay and Komal - the owners of the Mooleh Manay farm. This farm has been in their family for generations and they have taken over the full time running of the farm in the last few years.
Coorg is known as the “Scotland of India”, for its mountains, green scenery, and beautiful landscapes. The farms we visited were lush and green, with loads of different plants growing alongside the coffee. In a warm and sunny climate, keeping the coffee plants shaded is really important. Shade is provided by the tall silver birch trees that were planted decades ago. As well as providing wonderful shade for the coffee, another local crop grows up the large tree trunks - pepper vines.
The Mooleh Manay estate prioritises high quality and is known for experimenting with different processes to get the best out of their coffees. They are well known for their selectively picked, natural processed coffee. It is common in India for the harvest to be "strip picked". This means that all of the ripe and unripe cherries are taken together for processing, resulting in a lower quality cup. At Mooleh Manay they take 3 times longer to harvest as they only pick the fully ripe cherries. This allows for a more consistent product and a much higher quality cup. Their selectively picked natural is an amazing coffee, with wonderful grape and cherry notes, set apart from the coffees you'd usually encounter from the region.
I also visited the Venkids Valley Estate, owned by Pavan Nanjappa and his family. Their farm is higher up than the Mooleh Manay estate, and has a processing facility on site. This means they can wash their coffee right after picking for a super clean cup. We had their Catuai washed last year and it was very popular. After speaking with Pavan about his processing, I asked if he could do a honey processed coffee for us this year. He agreed, and we are happy to be one of only a handful of roasters to showcase his honey processed Catuai. It makes a really sweet cup that has a nice pomelo acidity.
Coffee farming varies from country to country and each region has its own challenges and distinct ways of cultivating, picking, and processing coffee. I was very lucky to spend time at both estates. Komal and Akshay, and Pavan and his family patiently answered all of my questions as I tried to understand how it all works. It was a wonderful trip of learning and relaxation with some great people, and I'm excited to continue working together.