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Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Consumer - Producer Trip to Coorg



Coffee Ideas! and introduction to sustainable coffee



Jaivik Greens Organic Coffee Estate is located in North Coorg., near Sudicopa village. Karnataka, South India. It was acquired and developed by the present owner ancestors. It has approximately 50 acres of land at 1000 mts A.S.L. It produces arabica coffee (Cauvery variety), pepper, vanilla, rice, betel nut, coconuts, jack fruit and soon oranges. All this crops are rain fed and does not depend on irrigation of any kind. To preserve the moisture on the soil, shade is required to filter the sun light , that is accomplished by creating a three tier canopy . The trees that provides shade also have a symbiotic relationship with the coffee plants, here are some examples:

Huge trees form the “ficus” family provide water to the soil around them during the summer moths thru their root systems. Wild orchids and jungles creepers live on the tree and birds find their hide out for nesting.
Dadap trees are fast growing and excellent nitrogen fixers and also provide large amounts of biomass for compost and mulching.
When we speak of Nature it is wrong to forget that we are ourselves a part of Nature. We ought to view ourselves with the same curiosity and openness with which we study a tree, the sky or a thought, because we too are linked to the entire universe.
(Henri Matisse)

Timber trees like Rosewood, Silver Oak, Vengai, etc are used by the pepper vines to creep on and also provides excellent wood for furniture and construction.
Fruit trees like Jack fruit, oranges, cherries provide abundant food for wide range of animals living in the forest like elephants, bisons, monkeys and exotic birds.
This wide variety of leaves and animal droppings are discomposed in the top layer of the soil forming a rich hummus. The quality of the coffee will be directly connected by the amount in minerals, micronutrients, fungi and bacteria present in that hummus.

Infrastructure

















The farm is divided into 5 blocks, which are connected with corridors and small pathways.
Two bungalows next to each other, one is occupied by Tippu's family and the other is used as a homestay for nature lovers. Each house has a Gazebo with a sitting area. There is an additonal house that is used as a staff quarters.















A cow shed with 10 cows, that provides abundant dung and urea for organic preparations to nurture the soil that sustain the life and health of the plants .
A pulping house equipped with an 2 disc pulper and“ Aquawash” to remove the mucilage and fermentation tanks to bring forward the best the hidden flavours of the coffee bean. The water used during the washing process is stored in an open tank. A wide drying yard to sundry the coffee and a coffee parchment storeroom.


A turning point

In spite of the common trend of using chemical products to grow coffee, Tippu and his wife took up the challenge to stop using conventional farming practices and started to practice Vedic farming methods.
During the first years of that “ transitional” period, they went through difficult times, primarily because the coffee plants were under “desintoxicaton effects” so, some of them died and the rest hardly had any yield . Besides the economic drawback , the peer pressure from nearby farmers and family members tried to discourage them to go organic.
Inspite of all the inconvenience , their determination was so strong that they managed to overcome the first 3 critical “ conversion” years . Meanwhile they searched advise from leading coffee consultants to identify key areas of improvement to produce an excellent organic coffee and enter the speciality coffee market to fetch a premium price as a reward towards his commitment to quality and sustainable coffee farming.


Although their coffee is fetching a better price for its quality, they still not fulfill his mission.
Most of the times the coffee brokers sell his coffee as a commodity along with other coffees, to be finally roasted in other countries, losing its identity and uniquess.



The next step was to reach out the consumers that appreciates Single Estate Coffee and are concerned about the way the coffee has been produced and by whom.
To make that “leap” he realized that a new set of skills were required , so he decided again to search for advise. Coincidentally, Marc and his wife started his roasting and coffee distribution unit in Auroville and were searching for a organic coffee farmer that could deliver sustainable quality coffee. After several visits to the Estate , Jaivik Greens & Coffe Ideas! started co-creating a brand that slowly is gaining popularity among coffee connoisseurs locally and around the globe.







































Roasting

Tippu's mission is to deliver the best green coffee to Marc, who will roast the coffee in Auroville (www.auroville.org) . He decided to purchase a Probat Roaster G12 from Barcelona, that came by ship in a big wood box. The art of roasting remains in to bring the best of the flavors by carefully checking the time, temperature, color and sound.

“ When I roast my senses are fully awake, its a sort of being in trance” the smell, hues and “crack” sound of the magical bean are whispering me how the process is going. Finally the moment of truth come and the roast is finished, knowing when to stop it is the key for a great result. This is something that you acquire by practice and not much in books.

Marketing

The coffee is now served in Auroville, at Cafe La Terrace (www.cafelaterrace.blogspot.com), located at the roof top of Solar Kitchen Dinning Hall. Well trained baristas will finally extract the best of the coffee by using espresso machine La Spaziale S5.
The cafe is very popular among aurovilians and guests that enjoys the coffee recipes as well as a wide range of healthy food & beverages.

Marc's coffee is sold a Branded Single Estate in 100 % degradable packets to the local shops and distribution centers around Auroville, Pondy and Madras.

Recently available in internet at www.auroville.com. in 250 gr and 1 kg pack. (beans or powder)The first export consignment of roasted coffee has been send to Spain www.inhala.net . in the shop run by Marc's mother & sister. Inhala sell a excellent selection of fine coffees, teas & chocolates. A perfect stop over for the connoisseurs .
The connection between the producer and consumer is preserved at all stages.

In order to go one more step further, Coffee Ideas! is organizing trips for consumers to the farm . Finally the consumers get to know the other side of the coffee cup and establish a personal connection with the grower. This is one of the new marketing activities that will help to spread the Brand awareness and share the values that stands for.
For more information visit www.marcoffeeideas.blogspot.com




Coffee Ideas ! First Consumer – Producer Trip.

Dates: 22nd to 26 of March 2009.
Transport: Toyota Innova
Total distance of the trip: 1350 km

A brief of the 4 first participants:




Alan ( British), he is mainly working for Auroville Today ( Auroville's monthly news paper) for the past 22 years.
Donald ( US ), he is mainly working for Auroville Residents Assembly Service, facilitating decision making processes
Maria Ange ( Haiti ) she is cooking for Pour Tous Distribution Center, a consumer cooperative in Auroville.
Manohar (Italian), he is working with Auroville web site team, managing the site.

“ Ashok, a local driver with excellent driving skills drove us very safely during the 5 days journey.

“The car was conformable and the roads were in a good shape. Driving on the Coorgy roads with all the scenery around us was a memorable experience”

“We have learned so much about coffee that now I look at it in a total new perspective”

“The hospitality of Tippu and his wife make us feel at home”


Aims & Objectives of the Trip

The Aim of the trip was to spend quality time with friends , share knowledge on coffee culture and experience the wilderness in nature and in our spirit.

The main objective is to connect organic coffee producers with their customers .
Through that connection, consumers learn how the coffee they drink is produced engaging them to experience the natural habitat and sustainable concepts and practices.

Activities

Forest walks: the main attraction was to witness through forest walks the unique phenomena of the blossoming of coffee flowers, which only occurs once a year and only last for 9 days. For a successful blossoming, rain showers must occur during the end of the month of March hence the synchronicity with weather patterns is crucial.

During the walks, Tippu and Marc explained the differences between vedic farming and chemical farming. “ In Nature there is no waste” ,-Tippu exclaims; we learned how to combine all the elements available in the farm to produce most of our fertilizers, bio pesticides and compost. After the flowers dries out, the new future coffee cherry is born. At this point the plant after giving all its energy to make the flowers blossom and stand for 9 days, they require abundant compost around them to boost the new growth of thousands of baby cherries. It will take 9 month for the berries to ripen.

The flowers emanates a delicate but intense jasmine-like fragrance that invades the entire forest





Discover the source of sacred Cauvery river. Raft on top of its clear waters and enter to the lush and wild enviroment.






The Cauvery river, is one of the most important water sources in South India. It provides water to thousands of hectares of rice fields, orchards and vegetable gardens. A unique and fragile ecosystem , where wide diversty of flora and fauna co-exist in harmony.
We visited the “Talacauvery” the birth of the sacred Cauvery river, located at the Bramagiri mountains.

Each October thousands of piligrins come to witness the “Sankramana” event. The water coming from the source raises and creates bubbles at the temple pond. The God Ganapati and the Godess Ishwara are also venerated at the temple.

River Rafting is a great way to experience the beauty of the Cauvery River. We stopped at Dubare and Elephant camp run by the Forest department. Wild elephants live in those forests with the tribals since ancestral times





















 Visit to the Golden Temple, a Tibetan settlement

26 km from Jaivik Greens, we found a large and well establish tibetan settlement.

After the Chinese took over Tibet, the refugees were settled at Bylakuppe Near Kushalnagar and the Buddhist Monastery was re-established here in 1972. It houses over 250 monks today. The monastery not only attracts large number of young Tibetans seeking enlightenment and education, but also draws huge tourists from all over India and abroad.This Buddists Golden Temple Located 2 km from Kushalnagar and This is one of the tourist interset place in Coorg. This Buddist are came from the tibet when china had eye on tibet. This Temple is in Byelukoppe near by Kushalnagar, There are many thousand monks leaving here they are wearing red clothes. And all Temple in Byelukoppe decorated by gold plated gods. There are many monasteries arround Byelukoppe. But This Temple in the Border of coorg district and it is part of mysore district, Although it is very near to kodagu, So this is most popular tourist interest place in Coorg.

Bylakuppe (6 km)is a Tibetan settlement for Tibetan refugees and so the area around has Tibetan Buddhist monasteries dotted all along the landscape. Sera Je is the largest with 2000 resident monks. Siddapura (32 km) is prime trekking area. Virgin woods and wafting scents from nearby coffee and spice plantations will ensure you have a great time.




Young monks were reciting aloud Buddhist text as part as their studies. It was a great experience to be in silence and listen to them.





This year marks the 50th anniversari of the Dalai Lama's in exile. The Dalai Lama recently inaugurated the Tibetan Pavilion in Auroville. with the mission of preserving the tibetan culture heritage from extinction.


There are a number of shops around the temple, a restaurant which serves good momos and fresh juices. Coffee only after 4 !!




Forest walk to spot Hornbill Colony



Coffee Ideas! logo is represented by a Hornbill, an exotic bird, endangered due lost of habitat.
In order to raise the awareness about the preservation of wilderness, spotting the Hornbill was a thrilling mind-walk. Crossing a river on a hanging bridge, finding shelter under a wild mango tree to protect us from the rain and walking along the river side to mention a few magical moments

Finally, at of top on one hill, we could admire a colony of around 20 horn bills in the wild. A rare sight if we do not protect the forest from ecological destruction.

Modern man no longer regards Nature as being in any sense divine and feels perfectly free to behave towards her as an overwhelming conqueror and tyrant. (Aldous Huxley, The Perennial Philosophy)

Gastronomy, Camp Fire and Cafe Flambé

The food was a culinary journey to traditional Coorg and South Indian food.
For Breakfast, we had fluffy and soft rice chappatis with green peppers curry. with potato masala and Dosai with tomato chutney. Butter and wild honey was always on the table.















For dinner, steamed rice with dhal and egg curry among other specialities prepared by Tippu's wife.
















Pooris served in banana leaf
















Camp fire under the clear sky, with thousands of stars looking at us. Singing traditional songs in different languages and enjoying a cafe flambé prepared by Marc following his catalan traditions.

Boating in the wild, at Ranganatittu Bird Sanctuary

In our way back to Auroville, we stopped at Ranganatittu, ready for a boating experience that will remain in our memories for long.





Thousands of birds come every year to nest at this particular place.
We could watch the birds so close without disturbing them that was difficult to believe that our eyes were witnessing.

Huge painted storks, cormorant, egrets, river tern, flying fox, open bill stork, sandpiper, grey pelican, etc.....

And to add one more wild element, large marsh crocodiles swimming next to our boat!.

Flowers of Coorg

Walking on the paths of Jaivik Greens Gardens, we found gorgeous flowers that after the rains were blooming at their maximum potential. Prosperity flowers ( canon ball tree), Lilies, Anthuriums and vanilla orquids were only few of the many we saw.










































The Vanilla orchid

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Wake up to a new taste

Wake up to a new taste

Who am I? A Homo coffea universalis, one of those new species that are emerging in this world that perceives coffee through a holistic view, trying to comprehend the underlying structures of the coffee crisis by joining the dots in the coffee “community”, and exploring new avenues for positive change. I have a passion for coffee, and a passion for people. Not just coffee or people but coffee grown, processed, retailed, brewed and finally drunk by people with a vision for future generations and respect for nature and planet Earth.

The idea behind this article came during my visit to the Tea & Coffee World cup held in Hyderabad, India. While reading the program and particularly the coffee symposiums , somehow I expected from the speakers and their presentations a message of hope and inspiration about the global coffee and its economic and ecological implications. Understanding coffee from a more integral approach, where consumers and producers lifestyles are more in balance with the natural resources on which they depend, to result in achieving a perfect joe.

So, I asked myself, instead of complaining let's do something!. While walking into the Tea & Coffee Magazine booth to subscribe for one more year, I meet the man that could help me. Mr Heneage Mitchell, the managing editor of Tea & Coffee Asia Magazine. At the first glance I knew that he was also a Homo coffea. After a friendly gastronomic conversation about English cuisine and listening to Heneages' plans to become a coffee farmer, I asked him the possibility of writing an article to share my thoughts about how I see the future of coffee. My intuition was right and he encourage me to do, so here am I.

Since the discovery of coffee as a beverage up to nowadays, the human factor has played a decisive role. First coffee was safeguarded and monopolized by the Yemenis at the Harbor of Mocha, then slowly spread over Europe and the rest of the world. It was banned by Kings, Sultans or even Popes claiming that it had devilish properties which in reality were freedom of thought practiced at the cafes or mystic ceremonies celebrated in secrecy by Sufis.

But somehow, coffee's journeys could not be stopped by any means and spread all over the world. But, wait a minute. What is the coffee mission on Earth? What do cafes have to offer to humanity?

As the French Revolution started at cafe Procope, today we are witnessing a global Revolution, since the world is interdependent and the entanglement between all living creatures more obvious than ever. Our planet resources are being depleted, our population is increasing and the gap between super rich and super poor is widening.

Nevertheless, that sector of society that continues to insulate themselves from these issues, reacts in two ways: either by ignore them or playing the passive role by saying “ I can not do anything about it, it's too complex and I'm too busy”.

For Homo coffeea universalis, coffee is much more that an amazing aromatic complex drink, it is a phenomena that is uniting the world. How? even if you are not a coffee drinker, I'm sure that you love to meet your friends at a cafe.

Local cafes run by local entrepreneurs are social platforms where people exchange ideas, share experiences and concerns in a respectful mode with each other beyond their religion or social status. In another way, when we are at a cafe we have a sense of belonging to a community.

The main stream coffee businesses are mainly focusing on growth and cloning cafes all over. But growth at which cost?

This question came while sipping a cup of Ethiopia Yergacheffe at a well know global branded cafe. The barista was explaining to me the complexity of its taste and amazing aroma of such coffee and he was feeling very self-satisfied to have pulled up a shot of that creamy Joe. The coffee experience was up to that moment memorable, the coffee was great, the customers having a great time sharing ideas, lounge music in the background, baristas doing their job... a truly cafe experience.

But something happen when I asked the barista for the bill, he said with a big smile .- 3 Euros.
While getting the cash form my wallet, I asked him some questions.
- How much does the man that produced this coffee get out of this 3 euros?
- Is he having the same sense of wellness and community life than us?
- Is that coffee grown organically?

His face turned pale and he did not have a clue what to answer. After a while he said, The management did not inform me about such details. I told him that if a barista is meant to pass over the great work of the coffee farmers to the consumers by pulling out a perfect shot, it would be interesting for him to know the other side of the story. I recommend him to go to the internet and do some research on Yergacheffe coffee and on organic farming as well. He politely agreed to do so. The tragedy is that most of the time, for every 3 euros that we pay for our coffee only 3 cents goes to the producer. Did you know that if you drink 2 cups of coffee a day you will need 18 coffee trees? I walked out of the cafe with a Moca taste of this unique coffee but with a bitter aftertaste in my consciousness. I realize that the solution is not only with the cafe management but also with the consumers, if we would be a bit more conscious about the other side of the coffee cup story, brands will make a change in their purchasing policies, so eventually they will offer “ethical and organic coffee”.

So, let's wake up to a new taste, become a homo coffee universalis and drink the beverage that unites people, saves the world from ecological destruction and helps to abolish social inequity. If you want to be part of the solution and not the problem, you need to just ask your barista or retailer for shade grown organic and ethical coffee. Or even better open your own cafe or rotisserie like I decided to do in south India and spread the word.