Merthi Subbangudigy Estate, otherwise known as M.S. Estate, is located in the rolling Sahyadri range of the Western Ghats in Chikmagalur, Karnataka. The farm extends over an area of 600 hectares and lies at an elevation of 1100 to 1400 meters above sea level. The high altitude, in addition to the rainfall which can reach up to 350 cms per year, rich soil and evergreen shade have helped nurture the Arabica and Robusta plants that grow here. M.S. Estate is one of several coffee estates owned by Balanoor Plantations, whose experience in the coffee industry dates back to 1937.
M.S. Estate grows Chandragiri, selection 795, selection 9, Kent, BBTC, MS Hybrid, Cauvery and Ethiopian heirloom varieties of Arabica. Silver Oaks, Dadap and various jungle woods are interspersed among the coffee plants, providing shade as well as a welcoming habitat for a number of birds, including myna, parrots, peacocks, woodpeckers, owls, and parakeets. Animals such as bison, deer, foxes, and wild boars are amongst the many animals found in this area. Balanoor is also home to two tea estates sprawling over 225 hectares. Murgadhi and Yelemadalu, in Chikamagalur, producing about 625 tons of tea per year.
Careful attention is paid to every aspect of picking, fermenting, washing, drying, and curing. Three to four rounds of selective picking take place every year, with the timings carefully selected based on the strain and elevation of each particular group of plants. Shade-grown Arabica and Robusta undergo natural fermentation and a modern, state-of-the-art processing and curing facility is used for preparing quality coffee. Notably, coffee is cured only when it is about to be shipped, ensuring that the freshness of the green beans is preserved throughout the course of the season. By maintaining complete control over all phases of coffee production, including storing all coffee at its own warehouse, Balanoor is able to ensure the traceability of every single bean.
Sustainable cultivation is key at Balanoor, which has installed effluent treatment tanks in its estate and follows ecological and nature-friendly cultivation practices. Balanoor believes in the importance of preserving the natural forest as a part of the plantations and has built check dams and grown forest cover in ravines to prevent soil erosion and to conserve water. The estate provides its employees with housing, a school for the children of its farm workers, a crèche, and medical facilities. Everyone who works at Balanoor is also provided with social benefits like maternity and sick leave.
Click here to try this year’s harvest from M.S. Estate.