It is said that a few hundred years ago (sources dispute whether it was the 16th or 17th century), Baba Budan, now considered a Sufi saint, was unhappy with the Arab hold on coffee as a commodity. So he smuggled seven green coffee beans in his beard to India from Mocha, Yemen. Upon returning home, he planted them in the Western Ghats, a mountain range that still bears his name, in Southern India. And so, India's coffee industry began.
Balekola Estate is nestled in the same Western Ghats. More specifically, they are located near Chikmagalur, just a few miles from the bottom of Baba Budan Giri, a mountain known for its holy shrine honoring Baba Budan. Considered the birthplace of Indian coffee, Chikmagalur, is a small town (by Indian standards) of about 118,000 people. At approximately 4000 ft altitude, with two-tier shade trees sheltering the precious coffee plants from the harsh sun, Baba Budan couldn't have picked a more suitable environment for his "acquired" coffee beans. According to their website, Balekola Estate produces 250 TONS of coffee. Clearly, being at a high altitude, in the shade, with plenty of humidity is the sweet spot for coffee plants.
As it happens, it's not just coffee that benefits from these pristine conditions. Balekola Estate also grows spices like cardamom and peppercorns. (This is where it gets really interesting.) The coffee gains those subtle flavors from being grown and housed around all of the spices, adding a hint of the unexpected to your cup. Our India Balekola is naturally low in acidity and has a medium body. This newest crop yields a cup with bright, crisp notes in the front, a soft earthiness with pops of caramel and szechuan peppercorn in the middle, and a clean, lingering finish.
In addition to keeping the coffee tradition alive and well, the folks at Balekola Estate have also made great strides to focus on sustainability and environmental responsibility. Just having a tiered shade system helps sustain and perpetuate the ecosystem of the plantation, providing ideal habitat for flora and fauna, alike. They are also proud members of the Rainforest Alliance. The plantation runs on solar power and provide coffee byproduct to a neighboring entity that then makes briquettes to be used for fuel. If you've been following our blog, I'm sure you'd recognize that sustainability and environmental responsibility are issues we hold dear, at ACR. This like-mindedness is just one of the reasons we proudly deal directly with Balekola Estate. We've got the first few batches roasted and ready for you!