In India's coffee heartland Coorg, which is at a driving distance from the city of Bengaluru and nestled in the densely forested Western Ghats, February is the season to find abundant coffee trees laden with small crimson and green berries that hold inside them two green beans each. It is in these Karnataka-based coffee plantations, that many of the flavourful and aromatic coffee beans originate, before they are dried, roasted and ground into the perfect cup of coffee in your hands.
Coorg, locally known as Kodagu, can often be found on the bucket lists of seasoned travellers for its tranquil setting, biodiversity, delicious Kodava cuisine and large-scale cultivation of Indian coffee. A forthcoming luxury destination, the southern hill station has unmatched experiences that go beyond tourism-as-usual. For those interested in experiencing first-hand, the crop-to-cup process of coffee in India, the local hospitality options do offer plantation walks and trails that have you immersed in the native experience.
In an ecologically diverse and sensitive region like Coorg, threats to the forest ecosystem are aplenty, and are prone to multiplication with additional construction to support the consumerist traveller's lifestyle.
The homestay experience, then, comes as the perfect fit for the region and is growing by the year. Allowing one to lodge up in close proximity to the natural environment and coffee crops within the estates themselves, while observing all Covid-19 precautions, options on Airbnb in Coorg are something new-age travellers must check before heading to the beautiful southern coffee county.
A typical plantation walk in one of Coorg's large coffee estates, in fact, is nothing short of a treat to all five senses.
As one walks along a narrow network of tracks lined by trees of Robusta and Arabica coffee species, along with cultivations of arecanut, pepper and cardamom, the calls of Coorg's diverse bird species are unmistakable in the background. According to Ganesh H R, a local bird expert popularly termed the Bird Man of Coorg, over half of India's overall bird species can be found in the region, along with birds like White-cheeked barbet, Malabar barbet and Malabar grey hornbill that are endemic to the region. The place is also a great spot for serious bird-watching.
Surrounded by a tall canopy and clear blue skies difficult to find in urban jungles, walkers are greeted with the smell of flowering coffee shrub and ripened coffee berries along the way. In some trail experiences, enthusiasts may be invited to participate in coffee berry harvest - picking bunches of red and green berries off the branches onto a wide-based container below.
In experiences bookable on Airbnb, such as the farm-to-cup experience on FiveFarms Coffee, one can step into the shoes of a coffee grower and help with jobs like transplanting young plants from the nursery, checking for fragrant coffee blossoms or picking ripe red berries. The beans are then dried in the sun before processing it mechanically into the final product. Visitors can also experience roasting and take back roasted batches of beans.