Nestled in the lush landscapes of Karnataka, India, the Coorg coffee-growing region is a specialty coffee lover's paradise. Pronounced "Koh-rg," this beautifully verdant region of India is located in the Western Ghats mountain range of the southern part of the country. With altitudes ranging from 900 to 1,600 meters (or about 2950 to 5250 feet) above sea level, Coorg boasts a unique terroir ideal for producing rich and flavorful coffee. Interestingly enough, this region is actually known as the "Scotland of India" due to striking similarities in landscape, terrain, atmosphere, and overall climate, according to geography textbooks. (So basically what we're saying is you should try to visit!)
Coffee cultivation in Coorg dates back to the early 17th century when a Muslim pilgrim (or Sufi) named Baba Budan introduced coffee beans to the region, bringing seven raw beans from the port of Mocha, in Yemen. (Legend says Baba smuggled the beans in his beard!)
Over the years, this once-hidden gem of a region has transformed into one of India's most renowned and flourishing coffee-growing areas. The British further expanded the coffee cultivation during the 19th century, and today, Coorg is home to thousands of small-scale coffee farmers who continue to practice traditional and sustainable farming methods.
While specific farming and processing methods can vary from farm to farm, there are some general practices that are common across the Coorg region. Most coffee in Coorg is shade-grown, which means that the coffee plants are grown under a canopy of native trees. This method not only protects the coffee plants from harsh weather conditions but also promotes biodiversity and a healthy ecosystem.
In terms of processing, the most common method used in Coorg is the washed process. This process involves removing the outer skin and pulp of the coffee cherry, followed by fermenting the beans in water for 12-48 hours. After fermentation, the coffee beans are washed thoroughly to remove any remaining mucilage and then sun-dried on raised beds or drying patios. This method results in a clean and bright cup profile, which is characteristic of Coorg coffee.
Coorg coffee is known for its smooth, medium to full-bodied profile with low acidity. These beans often exhibit notes of cocoa, spices, and earthy undertones, making them a delight for those who prefer a bold and well-rounded coffee tasting experience. In addition, Coorg coffee frequently features a subtle sweetness and a pleasant aroma, further adding to its appeal among specialty coffee enthusiasts. While we've never had the privilege of trying a Coorg Origin roast ourselves, it's definitely on the bucket list.
In the world of specialty coffee, the Coorg region has made its mark as a producer of high-quality beans with distinct and memorable flavors. With its rich history, time-honored farming practices, and unique taste profile, Coorg coffee continues to enthrall coffee lovers across the globe. If you're fortunate enough to be able to experience an amazing espresso from this origin, take a moment to appreciate the journey of these beans from the scenic hills of Coorg to your very own coffee cup.