Nestled in the southern region of India lies the Pulney Hills, a picturesque area known for its lush greenery and unique coffee. Pronounced as "pull-knee" and situated at an altitude of about 950 to 1,200 meters above sea level, this region boasts an interesting fact: it is home to some of the oldest coffee plantations in India.
India's journey with coffee began in the 17th century, but it wasn't until the early 19th century that the Pulney region became a major coffee-growing area. In 1820, coffee plants were introduced to the region by British settlers, and soon after, the area saw the establishment of numerous coffee estates. The Pulney Hills, with their cool climate, high altitude, and fertile soil, provided the perfect conditions for Arabica coffee to thrive.
Coffee farming in the Pulney region has evolved over the centuries, adapting to the changing times and demands of the market. While specific information on the exact farming and processing methods of Pulney coffee is scarce, we can look at the general practices followed in India. Most coffee farms in India are small-scale, family-owned estates that practice shade-grown coffee cultivation. This eco-friendly approach helps maintain soil fertility and provides a habitat for diverse flora and fauna. The main coffee varieties grown in the Pulney region are Arabica and Robusta, with Arabica being the more predominant.
In terms of processing, Indian coffee is often processed using the wet or washed method. This involves removing the outer skin and pulp of the coffee cherries, then fermenting and washing the remaining beans to remove any remaining mucilage. After washing, the beans are dried in the sun for several days, resulting in a clean and well-balanced cup profile. However, some coffee farms in India also utilize the dry or natural processing method, which involves drying the cherries whole, with the beans still encased in the fruit. This method imparts a fruity, winey, and complex flavor profile to the coffee.
Coffee from the Pulney region is known for its unique and distinct flavor profile. Pulney coffees typically exhibit a bright acidity with a medium to full body, often accompanied by fruity and floral notes. The Arabica beans from this region tend to have a more delicate and nuanced flavor, featuring hints of citrus, tropical fruit, and jasmine. On the other hand, Robusta beans from the Pulney Hills are known for their bold, earthy flavors with a strong, lingering aftertaste. With its rich history, eco-friendly farming practices, and a distinct flavor profile, coffee from the Pulney Hills is a testament to the region's dedication to producing high-quality, specialty coffee.
While the names of specific farms and farmers may not be widely known, the Pulney region itself is a testament to the hard work and passion of its coffee growers. As you sip on a cup of Pulney coffee, take a moment to appreciate the centuries of tradition and craftsmanship that have gone into creating this unique and delicious beverage.