Single estate coffee – Why staying single needn’t always be cool

09-Apr-2015

Single estate coffee is now trending in India, and how! What began with unpronounceable single malt names being ruthlessly bandied about at parties (‘yaar, this glenfyditch is good, but you must try la-frog’) has now infiltrated into coffee shops, living rooms and workspaces. Coffee drinkers are googling ‘single estate coffee India buy online’ so furiously, most-googled keywords ‘IRCTC’ and ‘Leonne’ are reportedly jittery. And while you may have all heard about the wondrous wonder that single estate coffee is (no? then google it. go ahead, make the poor lady even more jittery), this post is here to tell you about the flip side of blindly chasing single-estate produce.

Single estate coffee is coffee grown / harvested from a single estate (Duh!). And while at the outset, the immediate references are to the water, soil, altitude and climate that have a direct influence on the way the coffee eventually cups, a huge factor that influences single estate coffee (and one which is less talked about), is the farmer responsible for the cultivation of that coffee. The more the personal care and nurturing that the farmer bestows upon his crop, the cleaner, more pronounced and more characteristic will be the cup. It’s about extracting all the best things that the soil, water, altitude and climate have to offer, while keeping the crop nice and happy. Much like the cows-who-listen-to-music-give-better-milk theory.

herefore, irrespective of the elemental characteristics that influence single estate coffee, single estate can eventually only be as good or as bad as the farmer who cultivates it. Thank God then for The Flying Squirrel’s very own Third Generation Farmer, Tej ‘Meticulous’ Thammaiah. And thank God too for an estate life completely devoid of the abundant urban distractions that would otherwise make this painstakingly fastidious task of getting everything across 300 acres (that’s 400 football fields) of blossoming coffee absolutely spot on.

The other thing to consider while pursuing single estate is the much sought after feature of a truly good coffee – balance. For most drinkers, a well balanced cup is a big thing to look out for in the black brew. And the best way to balance a cup of coffee is by blending. A great single estate may lack a bit of body, might be a touch off balance on acidity and may just be ever so slightly over the top on sweetness. Or a hundred or two such other things. Skilful blending can bring absolute joy to a cup, right to the point of look-up-to-the-sky-with-teary-thankful-eyes kinda joy. And that’s something that single estate would find really tough to emulate. It’s like blending a glass of strawberry juice. A uniform colour and size of strawberries grown from a single farm may give you a great glass of juice. But if one were to blend this batch of strawberries with a pulpier kind for more body, a sweeter, smaller kind to offset the acidity and a brighter, deeper kind to add beautiful colour, all in all creating a more exciting, interesting glass… which would you prefer? Exactly.

Buy coffee online at The Flying Squirrel where we have 3 of these beautiful single estate Artisan Coffees going – Sunkissed, Sattva and Aromatique – picked for their self sufficiency in terms of balance and their distinct flavour (all carefully grown under the watchful eye of Tej), we also have 3 blended coffees- ParamaDeep Bliss and Cafe Chic. Important to note here, we use our single estate coffees as ingredients for the blend, essentially keeping the spirit of ’single estate’ intact. Parama, a blend we’re extremely proud of because it’s helped us the most in making friends from all across India and the world, was designed by the truly prolific Sunalini Menon. Google her to be blown away.

We’re not saying single estate ain’t good. Because it is. But choose your single estate well, and like every good relationship, it’s good to mix things around every now and then. Happy brewing!