Eastern Ghats, Tamil Nadu state, India
Our days on the estate, mountains and multicoloured saris
The entire top part of one of the main mountains of the Shevaroys Hills, in the state of Tamil Nadu, in India, is taken up by the Vellakadai estate.
It was mid-January 2009 when I first ventured up through the lush jungle that protects the coffee plants with its shade, and then down the other side of the hill where the freshly harvested coffee is processed.
The curing works, i.e. the rooms where the coffee is processed, and where the necessary equipment is housed, were a little ramshackle but well cared for, like most work structures in India. Once through the gate I found myself in a large open courtyard where some twenty women, wrapped in their multicoloured saris, crouched over mounds of coffee cherries, the fruit of their daily labour, picking out all those that were not perfectly ripe before sending on the harvest to be weighed and pulped by machines.
Keywords: highland coffee and quality
Where does the coffee we have selected come from?
In Tamil Nadu state, located in the South-East of the Indian Peninsula, are the Shevaroy Hills, a towering mountain range (1300-1600 m) part of the Eastern Ghats.
The top of one of the Shevaroys Hills’ main peaks, the Vellakadai, is taken up by the estate named after it, where the coffee trees are grown among tangerine trees and sheltered by the shade of forest trees, at an altitude between 1300 and 1600 m.
Although Ramesh Raja became an important coffee exporter, he hasn’t lost his passion for green coffee growing (either Robusta or Arabica). The estate is owned by his family, who have devoted their lives to coffee for the last 50 years and have their own curing works in the city of Salem.
Characteristics of this coffee
The whole coffee processing is handmade, from the harvesting between December and January up to the hand selection of the best cherries.
The beans are then washed and sun dried on an old brick patio. Since this process requires an extreme accuracy, many are the women involved in all the stages, until the last quality check, before the coffee is packed in bags for the export.
- Botanical variety: 65% Sel. 795, 15% Sel. 9, 20% Kent and others
- Processing: washed, in fermentation tanks (plantation)
- Harvest: December-January
- Drying: sun dried, on patios
- Altitude: 1.300 – 1.600 m asl
- Quality/screen: A