Located in one of India’s primary coffee-growing regions, Karnataka, sits the foothills of Baba Budan. Here, ECOM, one of our export partners in the region, has been working with producers since 2008 as part of their Sustainable Management Services program, helping support and source some of India’s best specialty coffee. The hills of Baba Budan make up part of the Western Ghats, a 1,600km mountain range rich in flora and fauna and well known for being a biodiversity hotspot. In particular, the town of Chikmagalur, where this coffee is from, is home to several natural streams, allowing the area to support a rich ecosystem. As part of ECOM’s Sustainable management project, coffee production in the region is conducted in a way as to not harm the wide variety of plants and animals found here. In the estates of Chikmagalur, coffee is shade-grown, most commonly under three tiers of tree canopies. This technique helps to protect the coffee plants from much needed shade from too much direct sunlight, as well as also allowing the surrounding ecosystem to continue to flourish. As well as coffee, producers in the region grow a range of other produce, including peppers, cardamom and citrus fruits. Regarding varieties, much of the region formerly is home to solely Red Catucaí trees, known locally as HDT. More recently, new varieties such as Chandragiri, Hemavathi & Selections 795 & 9 are being selected. These varieties are selected on recommendation from the Central Coffee Research Institute and the Government of India. Extensive research has been conducted in the region, with these varieties in particular selected for their high yields, improved quality and resistance to pests and diseases. ‘Monsooning’ is a process unique to India, with a lengthy history and producing a distinctive, potent cup. It dates back to coffee farming under British colonial rule when during the several months that it took to ship green coffee from India to Europe, the humidity and sea winds caused the beans to swell and age. As transport improved and the beans suffered less from the elements on the route, European coffee-drinkers noticed that the coffee was losing the character and distinctive, bold flavour they were used to. To combat the issue, a new process was devised to replicate the conditions that produced this singular coffee.