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NILGIRIS – Filter

Nilgiris

740

CITRUS/ SPICES/ SWEET AROMATICS

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About This Coffee

Varietal: SLN 9
Processing: Washed
Region: Coonor – Udhagamandalam, Nilgiris
Altitude: 5500 ft to 6500 ft
Roast: Filter
Weight: 250g

In the cup

This is an SLN 9 from higher reaches of Nilgiris. There is no fancy process, no fairy tale to sell but some honest and clean washed coffee picked from plants ranging in altitude from 5,200 feet to 6,500 feet. This is the cleanest and most crisp coffee we have ever tasted in India and shall remind you of some high grown Africans and Central Americans.

If you enjoy a crisp well balanced cup with sweet tanginess, this is your coffee. Not masked by any fermented ‘winey’ note, this coffee has a medium body and clean finish. You would notice a hidden spicy note and some black tea in your cup. Though best suited pure, this coffee goes well with a dash of milk. I like mine on pour over, following our basic recipe, there is a wide window to play around in terms of grind size and you would notice subtle nuances changing as you change the grind size.

About the Farm

Matada Estate in Chinnacoonoor is approximately a 100 acre farm but most of it is pristine jungle and only 5-6 acres has some coffee growing, haphazardly. Every year we barely get 200 to 300 kg of washed coffee, we want more but then good things are rarely in abundance. Mr. Praful  Sundaram takes care of his tea plantation in Ooty and of Matada Estate that is jointly inherited by him, his brother and sister.
Originally the family belonged to Karnataka and it was almost 160 years back when Mr. Praful’s great grandfather, Mr L. Kempe Gowder, looking for better opportunities, migrated to Nilgiris. Mr. Kempe Gowder’s son, Mr. Malay Gowder, after succeeding as farmer and trader, purchased plenty of land and properties in the area, including Matada Estate in 1961.
Matada Estate was initially a coffee estate but as it happened everywhere in Nilgiris, coffee was replaced by other crops. Here initially coffee gave way to Geranium and Lime followed by tea in 90s. Even tea failed here due to draught and labour issues. All  this meant felling of shade trees and destruction of ecosystem favouring coffee. Today, almost 60% of the estate is part of the jungle and only 40% is available for plantation/ cultivation.
In 2010, Mr Praful Sundaram had to come back to Nilgiris as his brother and sister were settled abroad and his father, Mr Sundaram was facing health issues and wanted to retire from agriculture. Matada Estate was always a challenge and many a times family came very close to selling it off, however they have held on to it so far. During later half of last decade, some coffee was planted by Mr. Praful and is in the process of planting bit more with a constant effort to bring in some shade trees.
Primary focus is on Tea business, that now includes a plantation and a tea showroom in Ooty where once the bustling talkies Sri Kempegowda Talkies, named after his great grandfather existed. We have some coffee in Matada Estate just because Mr Praful had a hunch that coffee needed to come back and together we say, “This is the way”.
About the processing of coffee; processing is far from perfect, in fact The Empire would cringe if they know the process, there is no copybook method followed, there are no fancy washing and fermentation units, no special yeast, no papaya, no milk, no whiskey barrel, no fruit cocktail in fermentation tank. Every time during the harvest when some cherries ripen, these are picked and transported to a small pulper in tea plantation in Ooty. After an hour long journey, this coffee sits in the pulping shed overnight, you must understand that we are amid The Empire and tea rules here, king must wait till morning before it is attended to. In the morning coffee is pulped and fermented for 24 hours, before washing it and laying it on raised beds for drying. So, nothing super fancy here; but there is an honest approach in picking of the fruit and the lazy process followed there on.
In 2019, sadly Mr Sundaram passed away after a cardiac arrest. Mr Praful fondly remembers how the entire family had spent the entire day picnicking in Matada Estate. Mr. Sundaram had always held on to this piece of land despite it never being a profit making one and was nearly untenable. Mr Praful says, his father  loved Matada Estate for reasons they could never actually fathom, but then also adds that all you need is to be in that place to feel the love. So Mr. Sundaram retired to his bed after spending whole day with his loved ones at his most beloved farm and has stayed there forever. Today, Mrs Indira Sundaram with her son Praful and her beautiful daughter in law, always welcomes you with a smile in her eyes to her small yet beautiful house over looking the sprawling tea garden and vegetable fields in Ooty and we sit and talk a lot about all things beautiful, sipping some nice tea.
And then we think of how amazing this coffee is and say “This is the Way”
Previously…

During February and March of 2022, we spent almost a month in Nilgiris, cycling & brewing.

Though these hills are now known for some very fine tea but there was a time when finest Indian coffee was growing here and that is no surprise; you can find estates with average altitude of 5,500 feet and going up to 6,500 feet. Specialty coffee loves these altitudes and the kind of microclimate Nilgiris offer. This is exactly what lured us to this area. While farmers in traditional coffee growing regions are singing and dancing around fermentation tanks filled with papayas and pineapples to please coffee gods, one in Nilgiris sits amid tea bushes sipping a cuppa from the plants that refused to die when tea took over. Unaware that this coffee is blessed with a microclimate and altitude most suited for fine arabica coffee unlike anywhere else in India.

Nilgiris was once a home of finest grade specialty coffee growing under shade with Australian ladybirds taking care of bugs as coffee bloomed. However, during 20th century slowly tea took over as coffee was ousted by diseases, unsustainable market prices, felling of shade trees, mining and unavailability of labour during harvest. As a final push to dethrone the King Coffee, tea board sponsored the conspiracy through subsidies and incentives. By third quarter of last century, transition was complete; The King was banished, shade trees were encashed and Australian ladybird sang no more. All you were left with were sprawling tea gardens with few silver oaks standing in between.

Nina Varghese tells “But Clyfford still walks on moon lit nights, when the fragrance of the raat ki rani hangs heavy in the air, wending his way through the tea bushes searching for monkey berries to make his speciality coffee.” Read this beautiful story https://blog.teabox.com/nilgiris-tea-and-coffee (When King Coffee bowed out to the Tea).

But some rebels, faithful to the king hid behind on rocky slopes growing in cracks in rocks where tea never dared; chopped to stump innumerable times, they refuse to die and rose every time monsoon came in. Stubborn they were and the force was with them! now Empire has finally given up and secretly Jedis are back in higher reaches of Nilgiris, shh…

Nowadays coffee estates in Nilgiri district are found in lower altitudes in areas around Gudulur and O’ valley, however what we were looking for was from higher regions and this one is from Coonoor-Udhagamandlam area and you shall find the effect of microclimate and altitude in your cup.

Another thing that is close to our heart is cycling and we must tell all the cycling enthusiasts there is no better place in India for cycling than Coonoor. 2000 metres of elevation, tropical forests and lush green tea gardens, well maintained curving country roads with very low motor traffic and fantastic weather with temperature rarely rising above 30 degree makes it a place where you can just wake up any time of the day and ride on!

This place is heaven for cyclists and nature enthusiasts.

ROASTING SCHEDULE
We roast on 1st and 3rd Tuesday of every month and ship next day.
Next roast is on 16th April and it shall be shipped on 17th April.
We always have a previous roast available (2nd April), for urgent shipment, choose the option during checkout.
For any queries, mail us or WhatsApp on +917988784356.
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