In the 16th century a saint by the name of Baba Budan smuggled seven coffee seeds out of Yemen while on pilgrimage to Mecca. The number seven plays a big role in this story and in the Islamic religion. Baba Budan’s act of stealing seven seeds is seen as a religious act. This was a brazen act of defiance as Arabia controlled the exportation of coffee by not allowing any form of coffee to be exported except roasted coffee. He planted them at Chandragiri Hills (1800 masl) and from there systematic cultivation has spread into three major growing regions of Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu as well as a collection of minor regions properly known as the “Seven Sister States of India”.
Production and exportation of any product is a sign of a healthy and stable government. When a country is at war either with an invading force or from within we stop seeing growth in exporting but once everything settles the people fall back into their normal productive lives. We saw it in Rwanda in the late nineties; they did not export any coffee until the mid-2000s and we did not see any specialty coffee until the later years of the decade. As a country gains more stability the level of production increases and wealth flows into the country from the outside; such is the nature of trade.
India has traditionally been the battleground for the world stage. India has a rich cultural history as well as one billion citizens that were seen either as consumers or infantry. Even though India is a self-governed country in the modern era they are still overcome with xenophobia, corruption, and social strife. These factors have delayed their GDP and put strains on their market in order to ensure that their population has access to clean water and enough food to survive. As a result, when we look at coffee production in India over the last 50 years we see slow growth (less than 20% over 50 years) where in a fully stable climate we should be seeing a much higher level of growth.
As they move forward we are seeing higher quality products coming out of India and more and more companies doing business in that part of the world because it is more economically viable than it ever has been. And in the last 10 years India has seen more than 30% growth in total coffee (Arabica and Robusta) production. India is producing about 4.5 million bags (each bag is 60kg totaling 270 million kg) per year (in comparison Brazil produces 43.5 million bags each year totaling 2.6 billion kg). As India grows as a global producer we will be able to find the kinds of coffees that we look for across the globe every year. This coffee is one of them.
Attikan Estate was founded by Randolf Morris in 1888. When Morris died his wife took over the farm who passed it down to their son A.E.C. Morris. A.E.C. Morris sold the farm to Sangameshwar Coffee Estates, who has managed the farm ever since.
Attikan Estate is still rooted in their history. A tomb has been erected for the memory of Randolf Morris’ beloved horse Akbar which sits adjacent to the main bungalow which has stood at that spot for 125 years. Attikan Estate does not have electricity and is met on all sides by dense tropical forest and steep ridges. This gives their corner of the world an outstanding micro-climate perfect for growing specialty coffee.
The coffee is grown under the shade of the natural rainforest, and picking is done manually by the 80+ people who work for Attikan Estate. India is faced with Hemileia vastatrix, a fungus that grows within the coffee leaves, and Ceratobasidium noxium, a kind of rot that causes the leaves to cluster together and drop all of the coffee cherries from the branch. Attikan Estate minimizes their chemical use by targeting their issues directly.