Coffee is one of my weaknesses. It really is the perfect way to start the day but I donâ€™t mean any of that instant stuff. Real, ground coffee processed the traditional way and then prepared in one of the traditional methods is the real way to drink this heavenly beverage. Since the OVERDRIVE team are all such big fans (and consumers) of the beverage, we decide that it would be great to see where it all started and so, a drive to the hills was planned.
We chose to start off our journey from Bangalore, the nearest metro and we also had along with us Harshad Palsule, a Bangalore-based OVERDRIVE reader and the first winner in the OVERDRIVE GoThere contest. He would be joining us on the first leg of a six-part series of drives where we head out to discover the origins of some of the best things the subcontinent has to offer. This time around, we would be heading to Chikmagalur, the birthplace of Indian coffee.
The story of how coffee got to the subcontinent is a curious one and dates back to 1670, when Baba Budan, a Sufi saint, smuggled a few beans out from Yemen and brought them back to India. He planted those seeds in the hills outside Chikmagalur and this area is now known as the Baba Budangiri where â€˜giri â€˜stands for â€˜hillsâ€™ in Kannada, the local language. Since then, coffee production grew and when the British came, they organised the area into large plantations. Post Independence, all the plantations are all Indian-owned and run. We headed to the Lower Gowankhan Estate, where some of the best coffee is grown.
Our set of wheels for the trip was the delightful Datsun Go. This hatchback is making a name for itself in the hilly regions of India as a great climber and this road trip was a great opportunity for it to stretch its legs a bit. The light chassis and shorter gear ratios ensured that climbing up to the 6,000ft-high Baba Budan Dargah was no problem at all. Some of the roads on the way up were pretty broken up, but the Datsun Go took them in its stride on the way up the steep gradient. Once up to the top of the Baba Budangiri Dargah we paid our respects and then spent some time taking in the beautiful vistas of the evergreen hills. Unfortunately, the Dargah itself is off limits for cameras and so you will have to visit it yourself to see what it looks like. But trust me, just the trip up to the top is worth the trouble to get there.
We then headed back down to the coffee plantations where we were treated to a grand tour of his estates by UP Narendra, the owner of the plantations. Heâ€™s been in the plantation business as long as he can remember and used to manage a tea plantation before he bought this coffee estate. We learned how a coffee bean goes from a small reddish berry on a bush all the way to the brown roasted beans that we are more used to seeing. And finally, at the end of the day, we sat down to a lovely cup of cappuccino made from freshly roasted beans. It really was a great experience and one that we all will remember and yes, it was the best cup of coffee Iâ€™ve had. In fact, I had two cups, just to be sure.
Did you know?
|ï‚˜ Coffee is usually grown along with vanilla and pepper
ï‚˜ It takes nearly 140 litres of water to process the beans for one cup of coffee
ï‚˜ There is nearly 100mg of caffeine in one cup.
ï‚˜ Green coffee beans are soaked or steamed in water to â€˜decafâ€™ them
ï‚˜ Kopi Luwak is the most expensive coffee. Itâ€™s made from coffee beans that have been eaten then excreted by wild civets!
ï‚˜ Aside from keeping you awake, coffee is also good for your liver, helps increase your metabolism and can also increase adrenaline levels.
Excited? Pour yourself a cup