Elephant Valley, Eco Farm Hotel is a nature reserve and organic farm welcoming eco-tourists and nature lovers. Located on 100 acres in the Palni hills of Tamil Nadu in an area of the Western Ghats in South India known to be one of 25 most important Biodiversity hotspots of the planet. Kodaikanal, the well-known hill-station is just 20 kms away.
Elephant Valley is located on a centuries old elephant migration route on the last settlement next to the border of the national forest which extends into the wildlife sanctuaries of Kerala. One of the many things farmed and processed on site at Elephant Valley is their delicious coffee. I spent a wonderful three nights in the Palni hills at Elephant Valley Hotel and on one of my mornings there spent time learning all about coffee. Here is this week’s photo essay looking at that process:
Coffee starts life as these ripe, red coffee cherries. It takes approximately three or four years for the newly planted coffee trees to begin to bear fruit. The fruit, called the coffee cherry, turns a bright, deep red when it is ripe and ready to be harvested. Only the ripe cherries are harvested and they are picked individually by hand by farmers working for Elephant Valley. The trees are grown in the shade of many other species including fruit trees, this gives protection to the coffee trees but also ensures soil rich in nutrients all adding to the unique flavour of the coffee.
Coffee farmers look at the trees to find the cherries ripe and ready to pick.
Cherries picked are put into a bag carried by the Elephant Valley farmers.
Cherries are then processed. The freshly harvested cherries are passed through a pulping machine where the skin and pulp is separated from the bean.
Coffee beans are then carefully sorted for size and quality before being laid out in the hot Indian sun to dry.
The beans are laid out in the sun until try enough to collect. This usually takes a few days.In order to prevent them from spoiling, they are raked and turned throughout the day, then covered at night. This image shows the beans, dry and ready, being bagged for the next stage of the process.
The rest of the husk is then removed before the beans are put into a roasting machine like this one.
Roasting transforms green coffee into the aromatic brown beans that we purchase. The temperature has to be just right as does the length of time the coffee is roasted for. Some of the coffee is then taken to another machine to be ground. The objective of a proper grind is to get the most flavour in a cup of coffee. How coarse or fine the coffee is ground depends on the method by which the coffee is to be brewed.
The finished product! Elephant Valley offered a few different grinds of coffee. I am still working through my coffee I bought at Elephant Valley and every time we have a cup I think of all the people who were part of the process of bringing it to me roasted and ready for brewing!