I wanted to live on a coffee plantation the first time I visited this area way back in 2004. However, an inaccessible way came in the way and we ended up staying at a regular hotel. It took me 14 years to go back and finally explore the life at one such estate in Coorg.
I must thank the Old Kent Estate for inviting us and being the wonderful host at their 200-acre coffee plantation estate. We not only lived among the coffee plants that were partially in bloom but we also got to explore the eco-system in which Coffee plants live.
History of Old Kent Estate
A family-owned estate brought more or less directly from Col. Wright who had set up this Coffee Plantation Estate in 1864. It remains more or less how it was in the good old days.
I assumed that the Col. Wright would have come from Kent County in England and that is why it is called Old Kent Estate. I was wrong. In the days of Wright, it was called Horoor estate – after the village, it is located next to. It was named so by the current owners of the estate and no, it is still not named after Kent County. It is called so because one of the first varieties of coffee that was grown here was called Kent. So, it derives its name literally from the history of coffee on this land.
Old black and white photographs, handwritten notes, shelves full of books and furniture take you back in time in their own way at Old Kent Estate.
The place aims to re-create the coffee planter’s life as it was in the yesteryears. There is vintage furniture and old coffee processing equipment. There is a lodge that is perched high above and gives you a vantage point to admire the gardens around. We enjoyed spotting colorful birds here on the surrounding trees.
Coffee Plantation and its Eco-System
Lorenzo Gariano – an Italian who has completed the 7 Summit challenge of summiting all the 7 summits on 7 continents, has designed 3 walking trails through the plantation. We did all the three trails and some of our own while chasing the birds.
A yellow trail takes you on an easy path, mostly a paved road. A red trail takes you deep through the coffee plantation passing through the cardamom fields, bushes of cherry tomatoes, with cluster beans creating a carpet on the floor. Young jackfruits hung from the tree trunks, inviting elephants with their strong smell.
Around mid-March, Coorg gets some rain showers which are called bloom showers. Well, they make the coffee flowers bloom. We were just in time for that however, the rain Gods were lazy and decided to be late. Man, always has a workaround. So, coffee planters use sprinklers to create an artificial shower and make the plants bloom.
Coffee Flowers Bloom
This is the first time I saw the coffee flowers. The delicate white flowers sit in between the hanging tall green leaves like the floral decorations sit on a lady’s braid. Perfectly spaced in one long row, they could be showing a path to someplace. As with all good things, they last just for 1-3 days giving way to the coffee beans that would grow on the plant for the next 9 months.
Coffee beans and humans take the same amount of time from conception to birth.
Overlooking the coffee plants hanging on the tall trees, mostly Arecanut trees, are the vines of Black Pepper. It is interesting to see the green and red peppercorns bunches hanging on them. On the sides of our walking trail were bushes of Cherry Tomatoes – which we were told are wild and grow on their own. Imagine, plucking them and using them on the next salad plate.
I was most fascinated by the cardamom plantation as it is not very often that we see it. What made it even more exciting was the traditional cardamom drying room. An old Tobacco company furnace door guards the oven that heats and dehumidifies the room. Inside the room, there are stacks of trays with perforated bases. Raw cardamoms were spread out on them – allowing them to dry before they are ready to go to the market.
I loved the taste of fresh cardamom plucked from the plant while it is still shining green. The flavor stayed with me throughout the day. The joy of having it straight from the plant I do not think can be put in words.
Blue trail was done by Shashi which took him to the small lakes and the giant bear tree – 28 feet in circumference. This trail takes you closer to the forest. Incidentally, coffee plantations look quite natural contrary to the tea gardens that look manicured.
All these trails are marked and you can do them on your own. The estate does have a guided plantation walk every day. There is a map at the entrance and in the room for reference.
Relishing the Coffee
After you walk through the plantations, the urge to have coffee is but natural. Sadat Sathak – The COO of the estate decided to roast, brew, and cup the coffee for us. For an hour or so we could see the light green coffee beans being roasted to a deep brown shade. It was then powdered and brewed in different ways. First, we had the electric machine made Italian Espresso and Cappuccino. It tastes better when you see the whole process right in front of you.
The highlight though was the Japanese brewing. The plain thermal-mechanical process takes the hot water to the upper flask that has the coffee powder in it. As the bottom cools, it sends back the brewed coffee to the bottom beaker – ready to serve. Light nuanced coffee is great with Arabica Beans.
No Plastic is Possible!
All the 4 days that we were at the estate, we did not come across any plastic. That is right – no plastic at all.
As soon as we entered the boundaries of the coffee plantation, we saw the rucksacks bound to the poles to collect garbage.
Water was served from glass bottles. I loved the mint and lemon-flavored water they serve. In the room too, drinking water came in glass bottles.
Toiletries came wrapped in areca nut covers tied together with a coir rope. Bathroom slippers too were made of jute. Only the waste disposal bags were in plastic – I hope it is the bio-degradable variety.
Having no plastic around feels like there is nothing coming between you and nature around. And yes, it also tells us that having a No Plastic Lifestyle is possible.
Cottages at Old Kent Estate
Cottages are spacious with glass windows that let you see the forest even from the comfort of your room. Bathroom with glass top roof lets the ample sunlight in during the day and you do not need any lights. What was unique was the small foot spa unit located next to the glass window. Soak your feet in the saltwater and let your eyes soak in the greenery around.
Our favorite morning and evening activity was to sit outside our cottage and watch the birds jump around the trees.
The Internet connection is a bit of a challenge, but that is something that you expect when you stay inside a coffee plantation. Having said that, our Jio connection worked in the cottage to an extent that we could see our emails.
The Food is served at the Lodge or at the Perch. Food is freshly made to order as there is a limited number of people. This essentially means the food is fresh and tasty. Breakfast has both English and South Indian options.
Perch is connected to the cottages with steps covered with the canopied flowering vines making it look very romantic. It is a great place for photoshoots. I was told many south Indian films have been shot at this estate.
Stays at Coorg is like a perfect place to have a relaxing holiday in the middle of nature. While there are many places where you can do that, the plantations offer you the indulgence of fresh coffee – right from the source.
For more details, check out their website.
Video – Travel talk with Lorenzo Gariano mountaineering 7 Summits
Watch the video of IndiTales conversation with one of the few mountaineers with 7 Summits to his credit, an incredible achievement.
What else did we do in Coorg? Stay tuned for some travel tales from the hill station.
What a wonderfully detailed post, Anuradha! I could almost smell the plants and the coffee roasting, I really felt like I was there with you! It is so wonderful that there was no plastic at the estate – it is such an issue everywhere in the world and it always pleases when people make a conscious effort to reduce their reliance on it. I never visited India, but it is a place I dream of often and when I do visit, I will definitely be back to your blog for inspiration 🙂
So glad that you enjoyed the post on Cofee plantation. Please do come back, we do have a lot of India stories to inspire you to come to India.
Very interesting post. Being a huge coffee-lover myself – this should be on my to-do list 🙂
Josephine – I am more of a tea person, but I still enjoyed being on the coffee trail. If you are a coffee person, Coorg is for you.
Really great post, I’d never thought of visiting a coffee plantation but as someone who never starts the day before my morning coffee it is now safely on the to do list
Amy – if you love coffee, you would love living on a coffee estate like this one. We enjoyed it even though we are really the tea people. Walks through the plantations are truly magical.
With my coffee obsession, this is literally my idea of heaven! I had no idea that flowers bloomed for a few days before coffee beans emerged – amazing and so beautiful!
Jordan – I also discovered it on our recent visit to the Old Kent EState at Coorg. And, yes, they look lovely.
OK, so i never knew there were coffee plantations in India. This looks so lovely though. You were so lucky to see the delicate coffee flowers, who knew they are so beautiful! I’d love to visit this plantation, and stay utterly wired on caffeine for a few days 🙂
Rosie – India has almost everything that you can think of :-), and yes coffee plantations included. In fact, we have coffee plantations both on our west side and east side.
Such a nice walkthrough! I have to say I also believed its name came from Kent County in England before reading ahah. It’s great to see plantation with a no plastic policy, much, much better :)! Also, the cottage looks lovely!
No plastic was such a big relief. It was a lovely stay amidst nature at Coorg, and yes while tasting the local coffee.
Wow, I had no idea that coffee took so long to grow. I love learning things as I travel, so this would be exactly the kind of place I like to visit. The natural beauty would be an added bonus.
Kris – to me traveling is learning. Every time I step out I learn. Who is a better teacher than nature?
Thanks for taking us on a tour of a coffee plantation! As much as I love coffee, I know very little about the farms the beans come from, so thank you!
Glad that you enjoyed the post on the coffee plantation in Coorg.
Wow, who knew coffee took that long! I love coffee but have not been to a coffee plantation as not had the chance…yet! Glad to see a no plastic rule here.
Sarah – Is it not interesting that humans and coffee take the same time to take birth. well, it is not a rule, but they just do not use plastic and that I think works better than preaching. Practice is the best way to influence.
I’m not even a coffee drinker, but you’ve convinced me a visit to the Kent Coffee Plantation would be a wonderful one. I didn’t know cherry tomatoes grew in the wild on bushes! A stroll around the plantation grounds would be a wonderful way to spend my time. As well as a tour of the operations, and all of the antiques on display. I had no idea that coffee beans require 9 months to develop. And it’s good to know the estate is operating in a green way with no plastic waste.
Tami – I am also a primarily tea person but at Coorg, we absolutely enjoyed our coffee.
I went to a coffee plantation once in Arusha, Tanzania but I have to say it did not look anything like this! What a quirky stay to undertake! Why was it a dream trip for you to do? You definitely have me wanting to stay overnight at one now!
Julia – you would not regret staying at a coffee plantation – do plan one, when you can.
Don’t know much about coffee plantations, but I sure loved reading about this one. 🙂 So nice that it derives its name from the history of coffee there. Along with those black and white photos, old furniture etc, that small detail probably adds to a special feel to the whole place.
Didn’t know that coffee has such lovely flowers! That must have been nice to see. 🙂
Danijela – guess we were just plain lucky to be there at the right time to see the coffee flower bloom. It happens for such a short period.
Love it! We’re coffee fanatics and we’ve been to several coffee farms in Hawaii – we loved it so much that we even order our coffee from them to have here at home. It’s so valuable to visit farms like these – you have a whole new appreciation for what seems like such a simple drink. Lovely pics.
Right, Venessa. It is only when you visit these coffee plantations you realize how long the journey of coffee is from the farm to the cup.
What an epic adventure! I’ve never seen coffee flowers blossom. They look so pretty. I’m such a huge coffee fan. Actually drinking a latte right now!
Jean – all you coffee lovers must spend some time volunteering at some coffee plantation – you would enjoy your favorite beverage even more.
Anuradha ji, Great to read. Informative post on Coffee plantations.
Glad you liked it Rupam 🙂
Wow, the idea of living on a coffee plantation is super cool to me, I’d love to try it. I have only briefly visited one in Costa Rica but this looks far more impressive. It’s also brilliant that they have a no plastic policy, as an environmentally aware traveller this is very important to me!
Samatha, Old Kent Estate actually makes the stay at their coffee plantation memorable with their curated walking trails and experiences.
A coffee plantation is not only a nice place to visit but also very very fun and interesting. I think India almost has everything. I know there’s a coffee plantation somewhere in South America that I want to see but surely will consider this one in India. You’re lucky you were nicely accommodated here and Lorenzo Gariano is a legend. Love coffee! Couldn’t start my day without a cup!
Catherine – Lorenzo is a legend and we are so glad we got to spend some time with him and listen to his stories of mountaineering.
We are considering a trip to Coorg and Wayanad during end of May and this post has come to me at the right time. Coffee is my fave beverage and a visit to a coffee plantation would be just perfect for me. Old Kent House looks adorable!
Coorg is a good place to visit in May.
I have visited a lot of these estates in Coorg and each time , I cannot help but be quite enchanted by what you find here. The cardamons, coffee, and oranges all give such a heady fragrance and I love plucking out the tender peppercorns and eating them too. Add to that the birds that you find here. This is one place that none of us have a problem getting up early for a walk. The Kent estate does seem like a nice place and maybe the next weekend there would be here.
Ami – I have had the tender peppercorns many times, this is the first time I had tender cardamom. I was in Coorg after good 15 years and it has not changed much – thankfully.
I recently visited Costa Rica and had my heart set on staying at a coffee plantation, but it didn’t quite work out for me. It was lovely to see what it’s like staying at one through your eyes. This is definitely something I will do someday.
Mags – I am sure there is some coffee plantation stay brewing up for you somewhere soon enough.
When I was working in Bangalore, I always thought of visiting Coorg but never did! Those were the days when I had a job. he he…
But always love this ambience. I have experienced in this very tea gardens but yet to experience a coffee plantation. Great to see that they are avoiding plastic, wish everyone did that.
Coffee plantations are very different from tea gardens. They are cool and surrounded by many spice plantations like pepper, cardamom, and other plants. I think if we highlight and support the ones who do not use plastic, we will do our bit to encourage responsible travel.
Visited many several times to Coorg. One of the best place to relax and get charged up. Winter season is good with team for weekend spend. Many Coffee plantation and home stay in Coffee estates are great experience.