Merthi Mountain from Badnekhan Estate is back again with the arrival of 2018-19 harvest. This coffee is grown on the slopes of mighty Merthi Mountain and we always love their SLN 9 and new cultivar Avanthi, which is said to be descendant of a Brazilian arabica varietal. Three years back we began with SLN 9 from Badnekhan Estate but for second year in a row we have preferred Avanthi over SLN 9 and this coffee is getting better as plant matures. We had to really struggle to bring this coffee to Merthi fans at Curious Life; there are always some big international buyers queued up for this amazing coffee.
Avanthi cultivar has a fruity aroma with sweet tangy notes of ripe fruits such as green apple and pear with a hint of almonds, it has a medium body and a clean lasting sweet finish.
Badnekhan Estate is one of the finest coffee farms in India which is owned by Mrs. Roshin Varghese as part of Devon plantations. It extends up the slopes of Merthi Mountain upto an altitude of 4600 feet, and is full of rich variety of flora and fauna symbiotically living with coffee. Coffee is shade grown, carefully picked, washed with spring water and dried on raised beds; total focus is to improve the cup quality. Thereafter coffee is sent to family owned curing factory in Koppa where further processing takes place using modern equipment and is finally stored in grain-pro bags and shipped to us. Total control from plant till it is bagged makes sure that there is no compromise on the quality and that shows in cup. Undoubtedly this is my favourite Indian washed coffee.
This year in March 2019, me and Jacob drove in his Mahindra Thar to this hidden gem on a steep hilly dirt track that certainly tests your driving skills and the capability of your 4 wheel drive. It was evening when and we were greeted by the present manager, Mr Mudappa. With his jungle hat, bush shirt, vintage photographer’s vest, ankle high jungle boots and knee length socks he ironically reminded me of hunter from colonial era. On the contrary, this fine gentleman from Coorg with pleasing personality lovingly takes care of flora and fauna in estate along with team of 100 plus workers.
We immediately rushed to cupping room and roasted samples on our Ikawa, there were three varietals to be cupped, SLN 9, SLN 795 and Avanthi along with some experimental lots. After blind cupping we were absolutely clear of the coffee we wanted; though SLN 9 was good but Avanthi was the winner for us. Mr. Mudappa wasn’t sure if they could spare any of that coffee as there was huge demand from Japanese coffee buyer for this coffee. However, since we have been with Merthi Mountain for almost for four years, Ms Roshin Varghese was kind enough to promise 40 bags (30 kg each) for us.
Mr Mudappa, who is a great host, took us around the plantation and we noticed that the farm provides accommodation to permanent workers along with health services and transport to the town and school for children, these facilities are also extended to the neighbouring village. This plantation fulfils its social responsibility and constantly works to improve the living standards of workers and neighbouring villagers.
It was almost sunset and Mr Mudappa offered to stay in beautiful vintage style cottage, however me and Jacob had other plans! We sought Mr. Mudappa’s permission to drive though his estate towards the Merthi peak where we planned to camp for the night. There was a wild fire raging on the peak, however it had moved away from Badnekhan and we camped on a burnt patch just short of the peak, cooked our evening meal, had some rum, talked on phone to couple of child hood friends from school and listened to Ghalib till late in night watching the great hunter Orion above us. In the morning we pressed one of the most delicious AeroPress on Jeep bonnet and were back to Mr Mudappa for the breakfast of Idli and Sambhar with lot’s of fresh veggies picked from his kitchen garden.
We plan to camp on top next harvest, hopefully there won’t be any jungle fire!
Enjoy the deliciousness of Merthi Mountain from Badnekhan Estate!!!