Coffee growing has a long history that is attributed first to Ethiopia and then to Arabia, mostly Yemen. With the earliest history is traced to 875 AD! The Indian context started with an Indian Muslim saint, Baba Budan,while on a pilgrimage to Mecca, smuggled seven coffee beans (a sacrosanct number) by tying it around his waist from Yemen to Mysore, Karnataka in India and planted them on the Chandragiri Hills. It was considered an illegal act to take out green coffee seed out of Arabia. Yet this was the beginning of coffee industry in India, an achievement of considerable bravery of Baba Budan considering that Arabs had been exercising strict control over its export to other countries and not permitting coffee beans to be exported in any form other than as in a roasted or boiled form preventing germination.
Systematic cultivation soon followed Baba Budan’s first planting of the seeds, in 1670, mostly by private owners and the first plantation was established in 1840 around the surrounding hills in Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu. With British colonial presence taking strong roots in India in the mid 19th century, coffee plantations flourished for export. The culture of coffee thus spread throughout South India rapidly (including now the tribal communities of Araku Valley, Andhra Pradesh).
There are approximately 250,000 coffee growers in India; 98% of them are small growers.
Who We Support
We work with Indian coffee farmers within the state of Karnataka, including Coorg, Medgeri, Sakleshpur and Somwarpet; Wayanad in Kerala; coffee communities and co-ops in Kodaikanal in Tamil Nadu; and the various tribal communities of the Araku Valley in Andhra Pradesh.
India is especially known for its wonderful teas and spices, however India also has some of the oldest knowledge and experience in coffee as well as agriculture and organic farming in the world. We hope to not only bring more value and support to the communities we work with but also hope to connect many of these Indian farmers with their skills and understanding to other coffee growing farmers and communities of the coffee world. Much of this expertise include: wonderful organic pesticides tactics such as the use of Neem, amazing fertilization and plantation tactics like shade-trees, inter-cropping, and vermicomposting with the use of local farm animal waste (i.e. Panchagavya).
What We Are Doing To Help
We are currently working to bridge the gab between the coffee farmers and communities of India and their wonderful unique coffee more directly with the consumer.
Especially in relation to the communities and projects which consumers can donate towards simply through gift-exchange and their appreciation of wonderful specialty Indian coffees. Such projects include: clean water projects, access to schools and education, protection of indigenous rights, and the continuous fight against GMOs and other environmental and organic movements of the Indian farmer and advocate.
About Their Coffee
The four main botanical cultivars of India’s coffee include Kent, S.795, Cauvery, and Selection 9. In the 1920s, the earliest variety of Arabica grown in India was named Kent.
All coffees grown in India are grown in shade and commonly with two tiers of shade. Often inter-cropped with spices such as cardamom, black pepper, cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg, the coffees often gain aromatics from the inter-cropping, storage, and handling functions.Growing altitudes range between 1,000 m (3,300 ft) to 1,500 m (4,900 ft) for Arabica (premier coffee), and 500 m (1,600 ft) to 1,000 m (3,300 ft) for Robusta.