Barista Magazine

APR-MAY 2018

Serving People Serving Coffee Since 2005

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I N D I A MY ANNUAL SOURCING TRIP TO INDIA, the world's sixth-larg- est producer of coffee and the only origin from which my family's business, Josuma Coffee, imports beans, focuses not just on procuring coffee but also on reconnecting with our estate partners. Some we've known for only a few years, others for several decades. With so many people to see, the two-week trip is always busy. This year's itinerary has me landing in Bangalore, traveling west to see 12 estates as I traverse the Western Ghats mountains, and fi nishing in Mangalore, on the coast. When I meet with growers, many of whom have a long history with my family, conversations rarely start with discussions of coffee. Some- times, a plantation owner will ask, "How did [name of roaster] like last year's coffee?" More often, though, the fi rst question is something more personal. "How are things in California?" or, "I heard about your trip to Hong Kong. How was it?" or, "How are Dr. John and Urmila doing?" At a few estates—and I know from past trips which ones these will be—the fi rst question from the family is always, "How come you're not married yet? I hope you will get engaged soon." DAY 1 — BANGALORE After reaching my hotel at 4 a.m. and managing a few hours of sleep, I'm out again and headed to my fi rst scheduled appointment of the trip. What I didn't expect was the hotel doorman saying, "It's not safe." Traffi c can be a nightmare in Bangalore. Most times of the day the roads have twice as many cars as they can accommodate and four times as much honking as any American is used to. From several trips here, I've learned that the best way to get from point A to point B is to take the small, three-wheeled auto-rickshaws. Their ability to navigate openings between vehicles can trim 15–20 minutes off a trip that would otherwise take an hour in a car. So imagine my frustration when the doorman suggests I call for an Ola or an Uber instead. "What happened?" I ask. "[The rickshaws] were safe when I was here last year." Recognition washes over the doorman's face, and he exclaims, "Oh, you've taken an auto-rickshaw before! Forget what I said. Come with me. I'll get you one." DAY 3 — KALLEDEVARAPURA ESTATE A four-hour drive west from Bangalore gets me into the coffee-grow- ing regions of Karnataka state. After spending a day at Harley Estate (near Sakleshpur), I then visit D.M. Shankar at Kalledevarapura Estate. On my fi rst buying trip, I was surprised to hear other growers say this about Kalledevarapura: "Shankar has good shade." All coffee in India is grown under shade, but it wasn't until I saw Kalledevarapura in person that I grasped how extensive shade can be. This is coffee grown in what feels like a forest, with one tree for every fi ve to 10 coffee plants. The mix of trees—silver oak and dadap, along with native jungle trees—creates a two-tiered canopy that supports a diverse ecosystem which, in turn, reduces pesticide and fertilizer intensity. As I walk through the coffee blocks, I hear the chirps of the numerous species of birds that inhabit the fi elds. These, along with bats, feed off the insects. Their excrement, along with fallen leaves, restores organic matter to the soil. Unusually cool weather has me wearing my morning hoodie well into the afternoon. Shankar, a fourth-generation coffee farmer, notes that the lower-than-normal temperatures are slowing the ripening of cherries. While he initially hoped he could complete picking in just two rounds, a third—and possibly a fourth—will be required this year. As an aside, Shankar also mentions some new varieties, including Selec- tion 9, Chandragiri, and an organically farmed S795, that he recently Opposite page, at top: The view from the porch at Kerehuckaloo Estate. Morning coff ee tastes even be er with this view. Below: The day at Harley Estate wraps up with the pulping of that day's pickings. This page: Ripe Robusta cherry growing in the fi elds of Kerkeicoondah Estate. 41 www.baristamagazine.com

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