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The Connoisseur’s Book of Indian Coffee

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Balmaadi Coffee & Tea Estate, Nilgiris

Balmaadi estate is situated in the Nilgiris District of the southern state of Tamil Nadu in India. It is part of the O’Valley group of plantations that were developed over 150 years ago by an enterprising Scotsman, John Ouchterloney. Home to the mysterious Toda tribes the Nilgiris today is a major tourist destination.

Balmaadi grows coffee, tea and stevia at elevations of 4000-6000 feet above msl. The coffee is grown at comparatively higher elevations, which produces a distinct flavour. The bushes grow under the natural shade of the native shola trees that are unique to the Nilgiris biosphere, and others such as jack, ficus, albizzia, African neem and cedars. The estate is adjacent to reserved forests.

Balmaadi is a fully organic estate that has chosen to practise a mix of ancient Vedic methods coupled with the biodynamic methods advocated by Rudolf Steiner. At Balmaadi, organic compost is produced on-site. ‘Panchagavyam’ which is a concoction of five products from the cow i.e., milk, curd, ghee, dung and urine are fermented using time-honoured proportions and sprayed as a tonic. At sunrise, homage is paid to the sun god and small offerings made to invoke blessings in a ritual called agni hotra. The ashes from this offering are sprinkled all over the estate as a pest replellent.

November is harvest time at Balmaadi. The ‘just ripe’ berries are hand-picked, pulped, fermented, washed and sun-dried on tables. At no stage in the processing are chemicals used. The slow dried parchment is packed in clean vegetable based jute bags and stored at an ambient temperature awaiting further processing into clean coffee.

Balmaadi is a small producer of niche, superior quality, high altitude arabica coffee. Stringent standards of excellence as set by Coffeelab, Bangalore and IMO Switzerland are used as benchmarks.

Balmaadi coffee won recognition at the Flavour of India – The Fine Cup Award 2004 for India’s best arabica coffee and also the best arabica coffee in the Nilgiris region.

Marketed under the trade name ‘Chettinad Imperial’, the coffee is described as follows by Sunalini Menon, expert coffee cupper: “A balanced cup with sweet acidic notes. Delicious flavour of citrus fruit with burnt caramel finish is the hallmark of Chettinad Imperial.”

Contact: Balmaadi Estate, Lauriston Post, Gudalur, Nilgiris District, Tamil Nadu Pin: 643 211. Email:
Phone: 91-44-24671446 / Fax: 91-44-2496 4280




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