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Bison and Blooms at Karadykhan, India

Five Senses CoffeeRichard Austin 14 April 2016

I have arrived in the broader region of Chikmagalur to pay a visit to one of the lower altitude estates that the Sangameshwar Coffee Estates operate here. The Karadykhan Estate, which I am visiting, is one of three estates they own in this area.

The region has a lower average altitude of approximately 1100masl, so they grow an even split of Robusta and Arabica. They plant the Robusta on the lower slopes around the estate and Arabica on the slightly higher elevated hills and mountain tops which naturally contour the hillsides. The main Arabica varieties here are S795 and Selection 9 — both have proven cup profiles and resist pest and disease extremely well.

The estate here at Karadykhan is simply beautiful. The majority of the natural rainforest canopy has been preserved and it provides an incredible shade canopy for both the Robusta and Arabica plants. Most of the large trees are also used to grow pepper vines forming a small off-season crop which, given the amazing growing conditions, is no doubt superb in quality.

As mentioned in my earlier blog, there were indications that the 2-3 day annual bloom would be in full swing at the exact time of my arrival — and indeed it was! The bloom period is brought on by what locals call ‘bloom rains’ — natural seasonal rains which encourage the plants to flower in one mass show. To make the bloom in time and to have the ability to document this on film was incredibly special to say the least. On the evening of my arrival, I was greeted by the overwhelming scent of jasmine and a vista of coffee trees in flower which gave the startling appearance of snow.

The estate is surrounded by nature reserves which bring all kinds of wildlife onto the estate. Spotted and barking deer, civet cats, squirrels (well, at least I think that’s what they are), bison, monkeys and the occasional elephant frequent the estate and make you feel that you’re more in the jungle than on a coffee plantation.

My time here has been short, but I will never forget the experiences here! Next I head to Veer Attikan — a long 7-9 hour ride to the Biligiriranga hills in Attikan where the higher altitude Estate, producing the coffees we’ve worked with over the years, awaits me.

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