Deepa Bhasthi takes us deep into an India rarely visited, where culture is steeped in coffee, where the aromas of spices and flowers ride the winds. Drink deep and savor the flavor along with her in Madikeri, Kodagu: The Heart of India’s Coffee County
In Coffee Country
There is a thing about clichés that I find a little unsettling. Despite how you might not want to resort to them in the light of over-use, sometimes you can’t help it.
Every one of those clichés is true and often times, the only most apt adjective you can find to use. While describing Madikeri, I can only use a lot of clichés: long winding roads, soothing greenery all around, perfect weather, you know, the works for a picture postcard. And then there is the coffee.
Just about five hours drive from Bangalore, the capital of the state of Karnataka, and of course, the country’s IT (Information Technology) hub, there is the district of Kodagu. It is still popular as Coorg, the name the British chose to call it by.
Madikeri is the district headquarters, at a height of over 4,000 feet above sea level. Coorg happens to be the state’s smallest district, one of the most prosperous in terms of standard of living and literacy rates and other social-economic parameters, as also the only one without a railway line.
Kodagu, where you take five steps to the side and land in a coffee plantation, is still the largest producer of coffee in the country, followed closely by places like Chikmagalur, in the adjacent district.
The quaint little town is nestled between coffee estates and winding roads and impromptu water falls, peppered with orange trees, the heady smell of cardamom that is interspersed in between the coffee plants, resulting in an eclectic mix of aromas that can make you believe in the utter goodness of a slow paced life of luxury. There, clichés again, all but true!
Madikeri is where my family has lived for over four generations. My dad is a coffee planter andmy childhood was spent in estates, walking through the narrow paths, getting bitten by leeches, secretly eating the blackish-red ripe coffee beans (and getting a stomach ache) and yes, smelling the coffee!
Waking Up To Smell The Coffee:
The whole process of the coffee bean to the cup was something I grew up understanding and as with all things that you grow up with, took for granted. It is only now that I realize that most people don’t know that coffee beans are preceded by the most delightful white flowers and followed by a horrible smell of the pulp that makes you want to retch.
Finish reading Deepa’s story here: