Coffee shrubs, which belong to the madder (Rubiaceae) family, are shrubs with evergreen, leathery leaves, white flowers and spherical, reddish purple stone fruits, known as coffee cherries. Originally native to East Africa, coffee was cultivated for the first time in Brazil in 1740. The coffee shrub thrives in a tropical climate in shady locations with high rainfall in both mountainous areas (Coffea arabica,) and lowlying areas (Coffea liberica, Coffea robusta).
Green coffee beans are the seeds of the coffee shrub, which are disengaged completely from the husk and to a considerable extent from the seed coat (silver skin). In general, each coffee cherry contains two coffee beans, which lie with their flat sides together and exhibit longitudinal furrows in the middle of these sides.
There are three varieties of coffee shrub, which are of economic significance:
Coffea arabica : Plantations are generally at altitudes of over 1000 m, which make it a "highland coffee".
The average length of coffee beans of this variety is approx. 9 mm and their color is greenish to blue-green. The coffee beans of this variety are more expensive, the higher the plantations, as the fruits ripen more slowly at greater altitudes, becoming horny and hard and containing only little moisture. They consequently have a strong, full flavor. They have a caffeine content of approx. 1.2%. This variety accounts for 75 - 80% of the world's coffee harvest.
Coffea robusta : This is a "lowland" coffee, as its plantations are as a rule below 1000 m. The beans of this coffee variety are small, roundish and generally brownish to yellowy green. The coffee cherries ripen more quickly and their beans have a higher water content than highland coffee and generally have a less powerful flavor. They have a caffeine content of approx. 2.3%.
Coffea liberica : A lowland coffee, whose beans, though larger than those of Coffea arabica, is less highly regarded because of their sharp flavor.
Green coffee beans are graded according to certain criteria, such as shape, size, uniformity of the beans, color, horniness, husk, cut, gloss, smoothness of the beans, proportion of defective beans, foreign matter and odor. The color of the beans must exhibit a greenish to deep green and fresh background hue and varies depending on variety and origin.
Coffee beans are usually packaged in new bags of woven natural materials (e.g. jute or sisal), which allow free air circulation. Their net weight is generally 50 kg per bag. Oriental Estate and Thottackad Estates based in the picturesque Nelliampathy range of hills in Palakkad, Kerala are where our entire production of coffee is grown. This area is one of the few places in India where coffee is cultivated in forest highlands ranging from 1000 ft above mean sea level to 3000 ft above mean sea level.
We also have limited quantities of Kopi Luwak for the discerning customer. The major strains of coffee we cultivate are: Arabica Varieties (Sarchimore, BBTC, Selection # 5B, Swarnagiri) and Robusta Varieties (Selection # 274, C X R).