Just a quick note today. I have enough bandwidth and time to post a quick update, but not enough to upload photos. I will update later with photos and more text.
There was a record set today. At every excellent farm we visit, no matter where it’s located in the world, the discussion always comes around to two topics. Poo. And worms. That’s right. Poo. Manure. And how it combines with coffee fruit to make excellent compost and a home for earthworms. At Sethuraman Estate in Magundi, India, it took less than two minutes into the farm tour to reach the compost piles. And that’s a record, my friends.
Nishat Gurjer is the poster boy for modern farming; farmers everywhere, regardless of their crops, could benefit by taking a page or two from Nishant’s playbook. Of course he’s taking ancient methods to a new level, applying a botique subset of agronomy called biodynamics to take organic farming into the future. But he’s also a modern farm manager, focused as much on best practices in human resource management as he is on best practices of agriculture.
It’s safe to say that Sethuraman Estates is the healthiest, most vibrant coffee farms I have encountered anywhere in the world. It’s among the most diverse, and it has the most incredible shade canopy of any coffee farm I’ve ever seen. With all the talk of sustainability in the coffee industry today, it’s clear to me that India is being characteristically modest, and not taking credit for some of the best practices, and results, available anywhere in the world.
Because the results come through clearly when you visit. Results on the farm, with proud, focused, happy, largely self-directed and productive workers. Results in the fields, with healthy trees and abundant insects, spiders and signs of wildlife. And perhaps most importantly, results in the cup, with numerous awards and accolades for his wide variety of both traditional and highly unusual Indian coffees.
I can’t wait to post some of the hundreds of photos I shot at Sethuraman, to show you the story of the farm and the people. Hopefully it will inspire you in the same way it has inspired me.
In the meantime, I’ll talk to you about the coffee, as you’re going to have to help me drink a lot of it in the upcoming year. Because after cupping and over curries, I sat across from Nishant at his dining room table, and bought quite a lot of it (quite a lot for us, anyway). Sometime this summer, we will be offering our first direct trade India coffees, all from the Sethuraman Estates.
We cupped nine coffees – essentially, everything that was available to me for purchase. In terms of the season, we are kind of late in the buying cycle, so some of the offerings are sold out for the season (notably, his monsooned Malabar, which we’ll be getting from another producer I’ll speak about in a different post).
What we will be getting is the following: Estate Peaberry, a fine example of a mild India peaberry; the classic Mysore Nuggets (resist the urge to make 13-year-old boy jokes), a world-famous preparation of a bolder coffee; an unusual pulped natural, because I’m just a sucker for sweet, winey coffee; a full natural Robusta from a specific plot on the farm, a Robusta that will make you rethink Robusta coffee. And finally, the crown jewel, a coffee so unusual I have never encountered it from any other producer: Anoki Liberica, a coffee that is a varietal unto itself, neither Robusta nor Arabica, grown on extremely old trees (50+ years) that shoot straight skyward, and processed as a full natural. It’s extremely unusual, another love-it-or-hate-it coffee, I suspect. But one that you will not be able to get anywhere else, at least in the United States.
Nishant is currently working out the logistics of getting the coffee to a port near North Carolina. We hope to have all the details resolved in the upcoming weeks before I get back to the States, so that we can hopefully have these coffees in house in July. We’ll keep you posted, and as I mentioned, post some snaps from my visit to the farm.
Meanwhile, it’s 5 AM here in Mangalore, and I need to get ready to see the monsooning process. Updates on that later!