If your day does not start without the brew of coffee in your hands and newspaper, then probably the coffee farms of Chikaldara will be the next destination on your bucket-list. I took a drive deep into these fascinating hill-curves, to discover how they get the finest hand crafted coffee to our kitchen drawers.
The Kasdekar Coffee Farms
The Kasdekar Coffee Farms is located just 2 km from the Chikhaldara Bus Station and is essentially a family owned coffee farms by Mr. Kasdekar. He and his family own this farm for past three generations and is their main source of livelihood. His small farm houses more than 60 coffee bushels and produces 300 kgs of coffee per month in the growing seasons from October to February. The coffee beans are plucked out and then dried to produce the finest coffee powder. Its aroma and taste can easily challenge any brand hands down.
A Warm Welcome
It was late afternoon as we drove into the place. Between the woods, the farm enjoys its seclusion in the midst of serenity. The birds chirped in the silence and there was a gentle whisper as the air brushed past the leaves. The farm is spread on the either side of the road-head. Approaching one of the bushels, we observed the bushels covered with maroon coffee beans hanging from the branches.
A walkway to the right took us into the house of Kasdekars’. An old man in his seventies, he lives at the small cottage which serves as his storehouse for the powdered coffee. When we reached the door, we were welcomed with a humble smile on his face. I spoke to him for some time, and asked him,’How long have you been making coffee’?
We have been brewing coffee in this small farm for past three generations now.
So, how much coffee do you produce over a season, was my next question. He replied, ” Ek jhaadi se kariban 5 kilo tak coffee nikal sakte hain” (One bushel can reap about 5 kgs of coffee beans). The peak season for coffee runs here between October and February of every year, and we were there exactly a month before schedule. The coffee beans were almost ready to be plucked. A month later, these will be plucked by hands and dried, till they get dark brown in color.
As I discussed about the process of making coffee powder, I took few of the seeds in my hands. These seeds would turn into coffee in less than a month now and will make its way into thousands of homes. It was a proud feeling to know that some place in India too can bring coffee home that can spice up your evenings.
Going back from here, I carried some coffee for home. Small 100 gm packs are available for Rs. 70/- and after feeling the aroma of the fine powder, it is worth paying for. There is always a reason to come back more now as it is in the neighboring district.
After I came back home, I tried to find out from my friends who have been there regularly, but it was not surprising for me that people do not know much about him. The International Coffee standards puts the coffee beans through very stringent selection parameters- Acidity, Aroma, Body, Roast, Balance and Finish ¹.
Of all the types and qualities of coffee available across the globe, Central American & Colombian, Brazilian, Ethiopia, Kenya, Indonesian, Hawaiian² , we have a hope in the future to find India’s name in the list of coffee producing countries. People such as the Kasdekar’s can make it possible, only if we walk a little extra mile to say hello to him.
For now, the coffee is served on the table and the aroma of coffee is not letting me write anymore. While I read the newspaper for now, I hope if you are planning to go to Chikhaldara, you will take out your valuable time to pay a visit here.