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India Diaries – Week One In India With Masteroast

Chris In India

On Sunday 28th January, our Director Chris flew to India for a coffee-fuelled adventure with Masteroast! During his first week, he met Sunalini Menon, the ‘First Lady’ of Indian coffee, visited the Coffee Board, Mysore Palace and Coorg Farm. In Chris’ own words, here are some of the highlights from his exciting journey so far.

Day 1 – Heathrow To Bangalore

The first day of my trip to India with Masteroast started with a hefty ten hour flight from Heathrow to Bangalore.

Surviving on three hours of sleep, I touched down in Bangalore at 4.55am and joined the rest of the group. Our next stop was the Palm Meadows hotel for some downtime before we geared up for our first coffee cupping experience of the trip.

 

Shivoham Shiva Temple & Coffee Cupping

Day 2 – Coffee Cupping & Shivoham Shiva Temple

Freshly landed, we headed straight to the ECOM Head Office for our first taste of coffee cupping. Not your usual style of coffee tasting, this technique encouraged us to ‘slurp’ our drink – a method which aerates the coffee to spread the flavours throughout the mouth. The Masteroast team walked us through the diverse beans and the farms they’re grown on, giving us a taste of each blend.  

In the afternoon we travelled to the famous Shivoham Shiva Temple. Built in 1995 to pay homage to the Hindu deity Lord Shiva, it stands at 20 metres tall!

We ended the day with dinner and enjoyed our first proper night’s sleep before our visit to the Coffee Board of India the following day.

The Coffee Board Of India With Sunalini Menon

Day 3 – The Coffee Board Of India With Sunalini Menon

On day 3, we were up bright and early to travel to the Coffee Board of India. A biodiversity hotspot, the board is on a mission to support small coffee growers financially, ensure fair working conditions for labourers and champion sustainability on coffee farms. Our day kicked off with a guided tour of the Coffee Board’s head office, alongside a talk focused on the pivotal role of the coffee industry in India. 

Post-lunch we met with Sunalini Menon – better known as India’s ‘First Lady’ of coffee. She explained how despite her passion for coffee, male peers would often tell her that she would soon be married and her career was a waste of money.

But Sunalini still went on to have an epic career. She’s celebrated as the first professional female coffee cupper, and from 1975 to 1955 she held the esteemed position of Director of Quality Control for the Coffee Board of India. 

Now she judges coffee competitions around the world and lends her expertise to local farmers as an adviser. Sunalini is a really inspiring woman.

Bangalore to Kushalnagar

Day 4 – Bangalore To Kushalnagar

The following morning, we spent five hours on the road travelling from Bangalore to Kushalnagar. Most of us caught up with work before checking into our stay at Amanvana. 

Later in the day, we took a detour to visit Mysore Palace. The iconic building was the official residence of the Woodeyar Dynasty who ruled Mysore from 1399 to 1950. 

We ended the evening with another group dinner before heading back to our hotel to prepare for our first mill and farm visit the following day.

Ecom Mill & Coorg Farm

Day 5 – Ecom Mill & Coorg Farm

We started our fifth day in India amped up for a visit to an ECOM Mill. We were shown around the mill and walked through the coffee-sorting process. The mill workers collect the beans from their partnered farms, remove any debris like rocks or sticks and leave them to dry in the sun until their moisture levels reach 12%. The beans are then tasted before they’re shipped out to various distributors like our hosts, Masteroast. 

In the afternoon we made our way to Coorg Coffee Farm – a century-old, family-run estate surrounded by plantation fields. The mother-daughter team leading the farm talked us through the Robusta beans grown in the region. Their beans are raked daily and hand-picked before being sent to the mill. 

They explained that local elephants have sometimes been known to wonder upon the farm and weak havoc on the crops!

Getting a firsthand look at how our cup of coffee comes to life was really insightful. The entire day gave me plenty to think about for Oasis and the future of our own unique bean blends.

 

I’ve just woken up on day 6 in India, where we’ve got more of Coorg Coffee Farm to explore. In the coming days, we’re due to visit the Golden Temple and Tibetan Monastery, travel to Badra Estate and enjoy some more regional coffee cupping. Stay tuned to see what I get up to next.

February 1, 2024

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