Karnataka’s Coorg is more than just a destination. And if you’re a coffee aficionado, a visit to Coorg’s coffee plantations promises to be an unforgettable odyssey. The season of September makes way for a mesmerising transformation. The lush landscape comes alive with an irresistible aroma of wet earth. The aromatic whispers of the coffee bushes and the timeless beauty around take you to a rain-soaked wonderland. In India’s coffee heartland of Coorg, a short drive away from Bengaluru offers you a chance to immerse yourself in the toil and dedication that goes into each cup of coffee.
Tranquil Coorg Monsoons
Once in late September when I visited Coorg, the rainy weather took me to stepping into a dream world. As your eyelids flutter open to the soft, rhythmic sound of raindrops, you’re pulled into a state of tranquillity. Finding my sanctuary in Pollibetta Bangalow nestled within Tata’s coffee plantation trails, it’s a traditional Kodava homestay where time seems to slow down, and relaxation is paramount. Having an old charm, you go back to a bygone era with its red-tiled roof, wooden floors, and spacious veranda.
Reaching Coorg late at night, the next morning, I was greeted by a cool and misty ambience. The world outside is a canvas of green and grey, with the rain-drenched leaves glistening in the soft, diffused light. Moreover, the morning mist hangs low, creating an ethereal atmosphere. These coffee bungalows are situated at a greater elevation, with views of the mountains and plantations. The gorgeous mountains open up to great views, that stay etched in your heart.
If you’re on a short trip, the key to making the most of the enchanting atmosphere is to wake up early and step out into the verandah. Don a raincoat or carry an umbrella and set out on a morning walk! You’re enveloped in the rich scent of wet earth, leaves, and myriad flowers that thrive in this climate. Birds, rejuvenated by the rain, add their melodies to the composition.
The Coorg coffee region is steeped in tradition and long recognised for its rich land. One of the largest producers of coffee, it is time to explore the plantations that surround the property. In addition here, you can witness the coffee plants, see how the beans harvest, and learn about coffee through and through.
Out & About On A Coffee Trail
I walked through the plantation and the single road, which wove its way through forests and coffee plantations for kilometres in either direction. I travel across fields of blossoming coffee trees, surrounded by a thin veil of jasmine. The little clusters of fruit on the trees are deep burgundy in colour, hanging heavily on the branches. Additionally, keep an eye out for abundant birdlife, including vibrant sunbirds and elusive Malabar trogons.
As you walk along the narrow paths that wind through the plantations, the fresh aroma intensifies. Meandering through the coffee plantations of Coorg is an experience where the local community is at the core of the plantations. You witness the age-old traditions of coffee cultivation. This also includes the modern innovations that keep Coorg and Tata Coffee at the forefront of India’s coffee industry. While parts of Coorg have various other plantations giving a distinct coffee-drinking experience, it was only in 2020 that the Tata coffee brand grew swiftly from a single coffee brand to a portfolio of premium products. Their packaged coffee variants come from these plantations as well.
Coorg’s coffee estates often offer guided tours. Additionally, they allow you to witness the transformation of cherries into coffee beans. To truly appreciate the art of coffee making, you must partake in the age-old tradition and art of plucking coffee cherries. The plantation also has hands-on experience that allows you to connect with the land, the coffee bushes, and the people who dedicate their lives to this craft. They vary in ripeness, from vibrant red to deep maroon, and it’s crucial to pick only the ripest ones.
On both sides of the plantation, Robusta and Arabica, thrive in their unique, distinct ecosystems. There’s meticulous care and expertise that goes into nurturing these distinct varieties, from the moment of plucking to the final brew.
Recap: Coffee Culture
India is well-known for its tea production. In both northern and southern India, grand tea estates and flourishing tea plants blanket hill stations. However, it has a little-known coffee history that is now an evolving industry.
Coffee is currently thriving in Karnataka, where the fresh smells of arabica and robusta bushes bring the slopes of the Western Ghats to life. As you wander through the coffee plantation, you’ll notice the relatively uniform height of the robusta coffee trees. If you’re looking for diverse aromas and lighter flavour profiles, go for arabica.
Coorg is rich with colourful folklore. The story of coffee in Coorg dates back to the 17th century. It was when legendary Saint Baba Budan is said to have brought seven coffee beans from Yemen and planted them on the slopes of the Western Ghats. The natural beauty, lush soil supplies and the rains made the place a highly sought-after draw for visitors.
Journeying through coffee plantations is a sensory adventure. It’s a place where the aroma of freshly brewed coffee mingles with the scent of rain-soaked earth. So, come, take a leisurely stroll amidst the coffee bushes, and let the magic of Coorg weave its spell on you.
Cover image credits: Canva