Nestled in the beautiful slopes of the Sahyadri ranges of the Western Ghats in Chikmagalur is where you’ll find Mr. Ashok Kuriyan, his son Rohan, the fourth and the fifth generation of the Balanoor Plantation, with their dedicated team making sure that each lot of coffee that is sent out from the estate is as close to perfect as it can be.The Merthi Subhagudigy estate, otherwise called M.S. Estate is one of those estates whose coffees we have loved from almost every roaster that has got it. Originally a british plantation, it was taken up by the Kuriyan family in 1935, and with their passion and dedication, their coffees have featured regularly with some of the world’s top roasteries.
Producing delicious coffee requires a tremendous amount of work and passion, across a number of fronts. The estate undertakes multiple rounds of selective picking, which are then sorted, and processed using many innovative and experimental techniques. But one of the key factors is work that is done before all this, during the growth of the coffee tree, where the plants have shade from the naturally occurring jungle trees, which are preserved and never uprooted. These trees also add to the micro-organism activity which further nourishes the coffee plants throughout their lifecycle. Their entire Arabica plantation is rainforest alliance certified and they have a 50 acre IMO certified organic arabica plantation. They lay tremendous importance on such ecological and sustainable practices and also have built effluent treatment tanks, check dams, but sustainability for them doesn’t end at the environment, it also includes the people who work with them, who are offered various worker benefits, which include housing, education, they have also recently remodelled the houses, and made them bigger to make them more comfortable to live in for the workers and their families.
To really take the level of quality as well as traceability up a few notches, they have their own curing works called the Kotordie Coffee curing Works, where they cure the beans just before the dispatch, ensuring that the green coffee remains fresh longer. At their curing works the coffee goes through 7 stages of sorting! First their coffee is passed through a de-stoner machine which will help pull out any unwanted foreign matter before going into the peeler polisher. From here it goes into the grading machine and then to the gravity separator to remove the light beans. The coffee is passed through two rounds of camera sorting where discolored beans are removed. The final stage of quality control is hand garbling. The coffee is passed through a manual hand garbling process where the coffee is checked by two teams of 12 people each who remove the defects such as spotted beans, cut beans, borer affected beans etc. This just goes to show the effort that is put by them to make sure only the best coffee beans reach us!
For us, it is really a privilege that Rohan was kind enough to let us have our pick from some fantastic nano-lots that they produced this year, and we are super grateful to everyone at the estate for producing such fantastic coffee!
ASHOK KURIYAN & ROHAN