Set in Joldal, Palya in Chikmagalur district, Unakki Coffee Collective was born out of a passion for Indian coffee and elevating the processes that coffee producers indulge in. The name ‘Unakki’ derives from ‘den of snakes’ which has been a part of the region for more than 400 years and is worshipped by the local community. The name is also an ode to their coffee community which has stayed strong and withheld all kinds of climate changes.
The collective was started by Kathyayini Muddiah and Rakhee Vishwanath who have backgrounds in Architecture and Software, respectively, and strive to highlight the work done by smaller farmers and celebrate specialty coffee. They also help the producers with timelines, pulping coffee, picking cherries, and more. The biggest challenge they faced was drying the coffee and maintaining its quality because of drastic changes in climatic conditions.
After quitting their corporate jobs in the Covid-19 lockdown, they began researching how specialty coffee is grown and processed internationally, which prompted them to implement the same in India, to empower neighbouring small-holding coffee farms. The first harvest that they worked on was done using basic specialty practices which was bought by us to support the work that Unakki does. They follow a similar co-op model to how coffees are produced and sold in Costa Rica and most African coffee-producing countries. This model aims at ensuring a sustainable income for smaller producers who wouldn't usually have access to specialty processing opportunities.
The three estates from where the coffee cherries hail provide a welcoming habitat for a number of birds, animals and plants. The farms also grow other crops like orange, lemon, jackfruit, banana, soapberry and pepper.
A lawyer by profession, Suresh PE belongs to the third generation of coffee producers from the Payla region in Chikmagalur. He took over the reins from his father Eeregowda, and his own son Utsav Gowda started following in his footsteps by bringing in fresh ideas and new practices. They own around 70-80 acres of land in this region and mainly grow Arabica and Robusta. 25 permanent workers reside at the farm, out of which 11 are women.
Kumar Swamy owns a grocery store and is from the second generation of coffee producers from Palya, Chikmagalur. His son, Arun Gowda SK, handles all activities at the farm under the guidance of his father. One of the main challenges they face is the distance they need to travel to and from the estate to the city, especially during the harvest season. Unakki assists them with their daily work including picking cherries and transporting them. They have 3-4 permanent workers onboard and own around 6-7 acres of land in this region which only grows Arabica.
Annegowda also belongs to the second generation of coffee producers from the same region. His family owns around 3-4 acres of estate land where they grow only Arabica, and solely earn through processing and selling coffee. Since they hire workers for picking cherries only during the harvest season, they themselves handle the rest of the work done throughout the year with help from Unakki. Since the estate lies at an altitude of 5000ft, one major drawback they faced is transporting the picked coffee cherries down to the pulper, with the absence of proper roads. Because of this, they resorted to pulping their coffee every two days. Now, Unakki assists them with pulping and picking up the coffee every single day.
Unakki Coffee Collective’s aim is to start a specialty coffee revolution in their community and grow together with their producers. They are also on a constant lookout for new farms to associate with.
This year marks their plunge into the world of specialty coffee processing. Click here to get our latest coffee from Unakki Coffee Collective.
Click here for Unakki Coffee Collective - Vayu Coffee.