Updated: Sep 22, 2020
A honey bee buzzes around, lazily flirting with a honeysuckle flower to make ends meet. At a distance, its low buzz is a lullaby for a well-fed farm dog with a lolling tongue who is at his master’s feet in the veranda of the farm house. He has done his duty of rounding up the mama cows into the sheds, after ensuring that they had all contributed to the can of luscious creamy milk that was delivered to the kitchen, that morning.
Phones stowed away and televisions turned off, post lunch is that time of blissful rest that is an exclusive ritual at a home in Coorg- the time when all the sounds around a typical house at a coffee estate can be laid out, threadbare.
As the lady of the home bustles around brewing a pot of Bella Kaapi (Jaggery coffee) the master of the estate slips into a brief siesta on an easy chair. A gentle breeze caresses the edges of the daily newspaper lying on the veranda’s coffee-table, by his side. His hearing has been tactfully placed upon the sound of the sprinkler sets irrigating his coffee estates. The soft ‘tsk tsk tsk’ of the sprinkler places assuring confidence upon him. The coffee plants have the right amount of moisture, for the blossoms and berries to burst forth in all their glory.
The first whiff of home grown coffees wafted into the Nalaknad region of Coorg in the middle of the 19th century. The first estate was established in 1854 by an English gentleman, Mr. John Fowler.
Influenced by techniques of the colonial entrepreneurs, the people of Coorg adapted to unique cultivation methods and were unconventionally accepting of alien cultures. This attribute set them apart in an uncanny fashion. It is the very same dynamism that lassoed large scale plantation companies like Tata Coffee Ltd and Consolidated Coffee Ltd, convincing them that the Western Ghats were fertile grounds for business.
Placed in seclusion, away from the robotic hustle that cities offer, Coorg is home to a well-knit community that is ancient but fresh. Historically, the men of the community have proven to be diligently forthright and the women, lovingly hospitable. The driving force of the community and the root of its far-reaching love arises significantly from the coffee, spices and other produce that is grown in their treasured estates.
The tiny district disciplines its life according to the invisible timeline that appears as per periods of activity and inactivity in the estates. Coffee and its related nuances remain a perpetual hot-topic that weaves its fragrance into almost every conversation between coffee-growers and includes their empathetic families. It sneaks in during weddings, at evening clubs, at sport routines and almost every other nameable social gathering. Why, one does not even have to be acquainted with the other, to amicably brew a conversation about roasting beans or the like, in Coorg.
Ah! Coorg is Coorg only with its smooth, winding, snake-like roads hugged by well-trimmed hedges beyond which lie tranquil green blankets of meticulously maintained plantations. Ask a permanent resident what home smells like and more often than not, there will appear a twinkle in the eye, a pleasured wrinkle of the nose with the answer-“Coffee!”