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On Sunday 28th January, our Director Chris flew to India for a coffee-fuelled adventure with Masteroast! Now he’s home, Chris has shared more highlights from his exciting journey.
If you missed Chris’ first diary entry, here’s how he spent week one. Otherwise, keep reading to find out what he’s been up to since.
Our sixth day in India began with a drive to Rosewood Coffee Farm. Certified by the Rainforest Alliance, the family-run spot specialises in Robusta. It was great to learn more about the bean, especially since we’re looking to incorporate it into our offering at Oasis. The father-son duo managing the farm introduced us to their team of farmers, many of whom work alongside their families.
During our visit, they told us all about the challenges they face on a daily basis. Like Coorg Coffee Farm, these challenges are often elephants. To deter them from trampling and eating their crop, the farm owners cleverly built a watering hole on the other side of the land.
Monkeys are another challenge! They snap the bean branches, chew the berries for their sweetness and spit the remains out.
Later that afternoon we headed to the Tibetan Monastery. Although we didn’t stay for long, it was remarkable to see in person.
The following day we travelled to Badra Estate. Here we visited two temples – the Hoysaleswara Temple Complex and the Chennakeshava Temple. Our guides led us through these ancient sites, sharing the significance behind the hand-carved Hindu figures that featured throughout.
Our second Sunday in India was spent at a Badra Estate Mill and Farm. The mill workers walked us through the pulping process, demonstrating how the pulp is separated from the bean. They explained that after this separation, the beans are washed and laid out to dry in the sun. We also met with farm pickers who told us all about their daily responsibilities at Badra Estate.
On our way back to the accommodation, we came across some local children playing cricket. It was only right to ask if we could join! I managed to get a few of them out, but they were a talented bunch.
That evening we enjoyed a vegetarian dinner with the Badra Estate managers before calling it a night.
Monday kicked off with a trip to another Badra Estate Farm – Chikmagalur Farm. On arrival we were greeted by a worker tasked with the daunting job of pruning fruit and trimming tree branches. Suspended 40 feet in the air, he would stay up there for three hours at a time moving between different trees.
Following this, we visited the children at the farm school to gift them some chocolate. Partly funded by Badra Estates and one of their buyers in Japan, this initiative cares for the children of the farm workers whilst they work.
The day took a competitive turn as the farm owners organised a contest for our group. Paired with a skilled picker, we were given ten minutes to harvest as much Robusta coffee as we could find. Our team efforts paid off as we managed to gather 15kg of the bean, putting us in second place!
That afternoon we headed out to a local mill for another session of coffee cupping. Guided by Matthew from Masteroast, we sampled ten different Robusta and Arabica coffees. After a quick shower in the evening, we joined the estate managers from Badra for a sunset BBQ. It was one of my favourite evenings in India so far.
The following day we said goodbye to our Badra hosts and met up with the ECOM team for a final time at the Melkodige Coffee Estate. Guided by horticulturists Aveen and Yogiths, we were shown around the eco-conscious plantation.
Located 4000 feet above sea level in the Kudremukh Bio-reserve, the estate specialises in honey coffee – an emerging trend in India. This process removes the skin of cherries, leaving mucilage on the beans. The coffee is then dried to transform the mucilage into a sticky substance with a golden hue, hence its honey name! This process changes the flavour profile to give the coffee a much sweeter taste.
Our afternoon continued with a visit to a holding and buying facility. Here the farmers send their harvest for testing, sorting and pricing. ECOM’s processes ensure that the farmers receive 50% of their fee upfront, with the remaining amount settled once negotiations conclude. Samples are then dispatched to buyers like Masteroast for further evaluation. It was fascinating to see farmers arrange their terms!
That evening was our last night in rural India before heading back to Bangalore.
On our last day in India, we took a five hour drive back to ECOM’s head office in Bangalore. Armed with plenty of newfound knowledge from our experiences over the past few days, we put our cupping skills back to the test one last time.
That evening we headed to bed early to recharge for the ten hour flight home. Little did we know, ten hours turned into twelve.
Now I’m home, I’ve had time to really reflect on the unforgettable experiences I’ve had in India. I’ve met remarkable people who contribute to every aspect of the coffee industry. I’ve been welcomed into the homes of wonderful families I wouldn’t have otherwise met, and I’ve connected with countless mill workers and farmers who are the unsung heroes behind our morning brew.
I want to thank Masteroast once more for making the trip possible. I can’t wait to bring everything I’ve learned back to Oasis, especially as we work on our next coffee blend. Watch this space!