No matter where you go, you will always find love and regard for coffee and its plants. India is no different. Being a country with major coffee production, India can boast of acres and acres of its own coffee plantations since the 1800s. Fun fact: we’re also the only country in the world that has been known to grow all of its coffee under shade.
The southern part of India, specifically Kerala, contributes to about 21 percent of the total coffee production, and is a state with a long, and rich coffee history. Let’s talk about Travancore Coffee for instance.
Located at the extreme southern tip of the Indian subcontinent, Travancore is a former princely state of southern Kerala. Travancore holds two separate coffee growing regions, Idduki where mostly Robusta coffee is found on its 9389 hectares of coffee plantation area and Nelliampathy, where both Arabica and Robusta coffee is grown. The coffee beans from this region are generally large and flat, and dark green in colour.
Typically, the Robusta coffee cup features a full body, with both sweet and slightly bitter flavours and fine aromas. With, an average rainfall of 2000-4000 mm, this state has been producing about 9,000 metric tonnes of coffee on an average.
In the 1860s, the hills of Central Travancore in southern Kerala were open for coffee cultivation, thanks to the efforts of trailblazer Henry Baker. Three of the Bakers’ sons were planters in the Peerumedu hills. In 1862, the Bakers acquired land in Peerumedu and began clearing. The first commercial crop planted was coffee and for several years, coffee seed and seedlings came from Wayanad along its jungle trails. Unfortunately, soon after planting seeds in Peerumedu, the plants were affected by the leaf rust disease in 1875.
By 1886 only 12 planters remained in these hills. As a substitute crop, the planters in the region started cultivating Cinchona, tea, cardamom, and rubber, until finally a few years back, the leaf-bug cleared off the plantations again. Limited only in certain districts, now, the coffee plantations are at an altitude of about 3,500 to 4,500 feet.
And it is the area near the Thengakal River, in the district of Travancore, that holds the record for the highest coffee yields in Southern India, with a yield of upto a whopping 2 tonnes of dry coffee to an acre in a single season. You know what they say about Kerala? God’s own country? And if you’ve tasted a cup of Travancore coffee, we think you’ll instantly understand why this is so true.