Ratnagiri Estate is located in South Indian Western Ghats near Bababudangiri, the place where coffee in India originated. The farm produces diverse varieties between 1250-1450 masl and has exquisite conditions for growing coffee. Ratnagiri Estate has been producing distinguished coffee since 1927, having its peak of a decision to invest in modern agriculture in early 2000. Since then, we are continuously in pursuit of improvements.
SOIL AND AGRICULTURE
The soil at the farm is deep, friable, open-textured, rich in plant nutrients with plenty of humus and of slightly acidic nature. Yearly soil analyses, correcting the pH, adding a specific group of minerals to each block, cross planting, pruning, stomping and cleaning the coffee trees are only the essentials.
From the nearby mountain, there are two streams of water that are supplying the farm. It comes directly from the source without any distortion in between due to farm location, at the slopes of the mountain.
At the average elevation of 1000-1500 masl and rainfall annually at the level of 1750-2200 mm, the areal climate is mild with stable temperatures between 14 –32 degrees of Celsius and cool winds.
Each year shading at the farm is controlled by professionals workers regulating every tree to achieve 50% of shading. That way, the environment for fungus is minimized with access to the sun for photosynthesis.
Primary varieties found at the farm:
-Cauvery — also known as Catimor is a hybrid of an F4 Cross between Caturra ( A semi-dwarf variety of arabica ) and Hybrid de Timor ( A semi-dwarf hybrid). It is a higher yielder with medium size of beans giving approximately 64% of A-grade and 15% B grade, Early flowering and early bearing variety with good cup quality.
-Catuai — a cross between highly productive Mundo Novo and compact Caturra, made by the Instituto Agronomico (IAC) of Sao Paulo State in Campinas, Brazil. The plant is highly productive compared to Bourbon, in part because of its small size, which allows plants to be closely spaced; it can be planted at nearly double the density.
-SLN 9 — The Selection 9 coffee plant is a hybrid between Tafarikela (an Ethiopian Arabica collection) and the tough and resistant Hybrido-de-Timor. It boasts of all the superior cup quality traits of Tafarike-la, and won the Fine Cup Award for best Arabica at the Flavour of India – Cupping Competition 2002 organized by Coffee Board of India. The following year was successful for Ratnagiri Estate giving the farm a 1st place at Flavour of India 2003.
-SLN 6 — a cross between S-274 variety and known for spectacular quality Kents - selected by an English planter with the same name during the 1920s. It remained popular with planters until the 1940s due to the lower susceptibility of this particular coffee plant to rust. High A grade beans, giving approximately 900 – 1000kg/
-HRC — Hawaiian Red Caturra which basically is Caturra by itself. Variety is a natural mutation of the Bourbon. It was discovered on a plantation in the state of Minas Gerais in Brazil sometime between 1915 and 1918. Caturra is also known for being one of the parents of the so-called “Catimor” family of cultivars. Various lines of the coffee-leaf-rust-resistant Timor Hybrid were crossed with Caturra to produce a dwarf plant with rust resistance. Giving an excellent cup profile is tougher to grow.
We trained a selected group of workers, changing their salary to double sort delivered cherries. First picking only riped cherries upon the delivery before depulping is selectively sorted out of half-ripe, overripe and foreign objects like leaves or branches. Brix measurements of each delivery are checked an recorded to assure that the harvest was timed optimally.
Ratnagiri invested in new equipment at the end of 2019, purchasing ECOpulper which saves us approximately 65% of water use, recirculating it, working under high pressure. We also custom-built our machine to have upgrades for honey processed and naturally processed coffees. Each run removes floaters and clean coffee before depulping.
We transferred from concrete to tiles to avoid all types of acid formed during fermentation to react with concrete. In 2019, Ratnagiri started fermenting coffee in an anaerobic environment, designing and building stainless steel tanks for consistency and control. We have had amazing results so far.
In 2020 we began processing our first experimental lots, which, fortunately, after a long time of groundwork and research, came out as a success. We are offering lots prepared in an anaerobic environment to our highest elevation lots, resulting in more body, clarity, sweetness and interesting flavours. We are willing to offer our coffee for WBC competitors and create Indian Specialty Coffee appreciated worldwide.
Separating areas for drying to honey, washed and naturals allow us to plan better, rotate faster and protocol easier. We built layered African drying beds with ideal shading to control the drying process for optimal moisture and water activity levels.
MILLING & PACKING
2020 brings innovation as we built our milling facility integrating vertically our company. Defects, screen size and density sorting it’s done now at the farm. Customers are being offered to have their coffee shipped in our jute bags, grain pro or vacuum-packed sealed without oxygen in boxes (nano lots).