places to visit in karnataka

No Decent Coffee in Coffee Country

A Coffee Plantation in Malnad (Malenadu), Karnataka, India

There isn’t an outlet that serves a decent cup of coffee in Malnad. The tiny shops that make it use instant-coffee powder. But if you are desperate for the drink, knock on the door of the coffee-planter. His woman will serve it with a fluff of froth with a wee bit of powder on top, in a cup larger than for espresso, smaller than for cappuccino — South-Indian coffee, among the finest cafe au lait in the world. The planter is a friendly guy, and hospitable in excess. Go on, knock boldly. It is possible he’ll also treat you to some akki-rotti — rice roti. With chicken curry spiced with pepper. You’ll come away worrying how you could reciprocate in equal measure in your turn.

That is how you get good coffee in Malnad, where almost all Indian coffee is grown. Of course, the planter would rather spend the evening with you, to share with you some good whisky. Right now, though, it has been a bad winter for him. It rained on consecutive days for a week in December and ruined a promising crop across the belt; weeds have sprung at the feet of coffee and the berries cannot be gleaned (on a decent scale) from the mess on the ground; in the meantime, the rain has confused the plants and they have sprouted white blossoms in odd patterns and on random patches on the plantation. All of which means the planters are sad within — but you’ll experience only their warmth.

Try them out, I say.


This is an old post that I have edited and reposted.