||India Balmaadi Biodynamic Natural 2020-21
||State: Tamil Nadu, Region: Nilgiris
||Varietals: Kent and S-795
We first came across Balmaadi Estate in India many years ago, and we loved its coffees then. You did too, so it was really disappointing when we weren’t able to get hold of them any more.
Fast forward to 2019 and we were so happy to finally be able to get this coffee again late last year, and now it's back for the second year in a row! It wasn’t an easy process, but it’s been a huge pleasure to see an old favourite return once again.
As is often the case, what makes this coffee so very special turns out to be the people. Balmaadi, as we know it today, owes a huge amount to one person: Unnamalai Thiagarajan.
The farm had been in her husband’s family since the 1970s, but it was in 2003 that she took over running it. Totally new to coffee farming, she went off and studied, beginning to worry about how to make profitable a traditional farm in a region that is frequently cut off from access by monsoon weather. She realised that the fertilisers and pesticides most commercial farms used would be difficult to get and would need lots of labour to apply (equally difficult in a remote region like this).
It was then that she came across the Biodynamic model, which she's applied ever after. Combining organic principles with spiritual ones, she’s made the most of her isolated location. This means making their own compost, foliar sprays and other treatments from the various plants and material on the farm. It was a great idea to take a challenge and make it into an opportunity, which in turn has produced an interesting and unique coffee.
They grow two varietals: Kent and S-795. Both of these are common to India, but less common in other countries. Kent is a Typica mutation which is thought to have occurred in the early 20th century in India, before being introduced in Kenya (where it has lost popularity to the SL varietals and Ruiru 11). S-795 is thought to be a cross of Kent with a Liberica/Arabica hybrid called S-288 (catchy name, right?), and it's become popular in India and Indonesia for being quite resistant to leaf rust.
Please be aware that products grown using biodynamic agricultural techniques may not be suitable for vegans. For more information and to generally find out more about Biodynamic agriculture, please have a read of our deeper explanation here.
A very clean Natural processed coffee, there's a big hit of strawberries up front. They're fresh strawberries, but going to overripe and super sweet. Behind that is a sweetness which reminds me of cream, with a hint of milk chocolate in there too.
State: Tamil Nadu
Farm: Balmaadi Estate
Owner: Unnamalai Thiagarajan
Varietals: Kent and S-795
Drying method: Patios and African beds
Altitude: 1,200–1,830 m.a.s.l.
Farm size: 169 hectares
Coffee growing area: 148 hectares
Strawberries, cream, milk chocolate
Clean cup: (1–8): 6.5
Sweetness: (1–8): 7
Acidity: (1–8): 6
Mouthfeel: (1–8): 6
Flavour: (1–8): 7
Aftertaste: (1–8): 6
Balance: (1–8): 6.5
Overall: (1–8): 6.5
Total: (max. 100): 87.5
Medium-dark - this needs to be slowed down a bit as it gets towards the end of first, before dropping the roast at the first pops of second. Watch out that this coffee roasts a bit hotter than most.
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