The wolrd's best shade-grown 'mild' coffees

 

Indian coffe is the most extraordinary of beverages, offering intriguing subtlety and stimulating intensity. India is the only country that grows all of its coffee under shade. Typically mild and not too acidic, these coffees possess an exotic full-bodied taste and a fine aroma.

 

Indian coffee has a unique historic flavour too! It all began with a long, arduous journey around four hundered years ago... when the legendary saint Bababudan ' smuggled' seven magical beans from distant Yemen and planted them in the Chandragiri hills of Karnataka. The sensations of aroma, flavour, body and acidity that you enjoy with each coffee experience is rooted in these mystical beginnings.

 

It is often said, the Indian coffee grower pours his life into the crop, It is any wonder then that India has consistently produced and exported a remarkable variety of high-quality coffees for over one hundered and fifty years!

 

The Westren Ghast, a rugged chain of mountains along the western part of India, form the backbone of India's coffee industry. Lush green hills with rain forest reserves teeming with wildlife co-exist with coffee, tea and spices plantations. The traditional coffee growing regions in the three southern states of Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu produce 98% of the country's coffee.

 

On the slopes of the Western Ghats, the fain forests provide a natural habitat for an impressive variety of wildlife. Some of India's best known large animals, such as tigers and Asian elephants live here along with more than 345 species of birds.

 

Trees, vines, ferns, and many other plants grow in profusion here, watered by rains from the monsoon season. The country's largest elephant population is found in the large expanse of grasslands interspersed with stunted forests known locally as shola forests. What makes this area truly incredible is not just the variety of plants and animals, but also their uniqueness. Over half of the tree species are endemic. About 90 species of reptiles and almost 50 percent of India's 206 species of amphibians are also endemic to this eco-region.

 

In the Chikmagalur and Coorg districts of Karnataka and the Wayanaad district of Kerala, the tall Ficus, white cedars and mahogany trees grow amidst coffee bushes and pepper vines. This is classic coffee country! Over a span of nearly two hundered years, the coffee industry has integrated seamlessly with the region, so much so that today the plantations are as natural as the rain forests, and coffee itself has become crucial to the ecology of the Western Ghats.

 

India's coffee growing regions have diverse climatic conditions, which are well suited for cultivation of different varieties of coffee. Some regions with high elevations are ideally suited for growing Arabicas of mild quality while those with warm humid conditons are best suited for Robustas.

 
Factor Arabica Robusta
Soils

Deep, friable, rich in organic matter, well drained and slightly acidic (pH 6.0-6.5)

Same as Arabica

Slopes

Gentle to moderate slopes

Gentle slopes to fairly level fields

Elevation

1000 - 1500 m

500 - 1000 m

Aspect

North, East and North-East aspects

Same as Arabica

Temperature

15 deg. C - 25 deg. C; Cool, equable

20 deg. C - 30 deg C; hot, humid

Relative humidity

70-80%

80-90%

Annual rainfall

1600-2500 mm

1000-2000 mm

Blossom showers

March-April (25-40 mm)

February-March (25-40 mm)

Backing showers

April-May (50-75 mm) Well distributed

March-April (50-75 mm) Well distributed

 
COFFEE GROWING REGIONS OF INDIA CAN BE GROUPED UNDER THREE DISTINCT CATEGORIES:
 

Traditional areas representing the southern states of Karnataka, Kerala and Tamilnadu

 

Non-traditonal areas comprising Andhra Pradesh and Orissa in the Eastern Ghats of the country.

 

The North Eastern region comprising the 'Seven Sister' States of Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Tripura, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh.

The plantations in the south are the cradle of Indian coffee. They include the Bababudangiris in Karnataka, known as the birthplace of coffee in India. The Eastern Ghats and the North Eastern states are newly developed areas of coffee.