We took the Jeep Com­pass to ex­plore the cof­fee trails of Kodagu (erst­while Coorg) and were quite taken up with both the plan­ta­tion and the Com­pass

Car India - - CONTENTS - Story: Ravi Chand­nani

Cof­fee is prob­a­bly one of the most con­sumed bev­er­ages on planet earth and since we live in a coun­try where we have a rich cof­fee cul­ture, we de­cided to head to the cof­fee cap­i­tal of In­dia, Kodagu (Coorg), for our an­niver­sary is­sue and ex­plore more about this de­li­cious bev­er­age. Our part­ners for this expedition were Jeep and we ze­roed in on the Com­pass for this jour­ney. The Com­pass is one of the most lux­u­ri­ous SUVs in its seg­ment and it comes with the quin­tes­sen­tial Jeep off-road DNA , which is per­fect to tackle the trails of a cof­fee plan­ta­tion. So with­out any hes­i­ta­tion we headed off to Kodagu for some cof­fee.

We started from the Car In­dia head­quar­ters in Pune early in the morn­ing as we had 900 kilo­me­tres to cover that day. As we made our way through Pune city, I was sur­prised to see how com­fort­able the Jeep Com­pass was on the city roads that were badly af­fected by the rain. The ride qual­ity of the Com­pass was sim­ply bril­liant. The smooth­ness be­came bet­ter when we fi­nally reached the well-sur­faced NH 4. Here the Com­pass’ ride qual­ity was so good that our team fell asleep. As we drove to­wards Kar­nataka, the sun was just ris­ing and, just after sun­rise, we were al­ready in Kar­nataka. The Com­pass’ per­for­mance is ex­cel­lent as we had cov­ered a good dis­tance in a short pe­riod of time. The au­to­matic gear­box of the Com­pass was a saviour be­cause as time passed, the traf­fic on the high­way also in­creased; how­ever, we did not have to worry about shift­ing gears — the smooth seven-speed gear­box per­formed the task of go­ing through the cogs per­fectly well.

We were on the high­way un­til Da­van­agere, after which we turned off NH 48 and on to the smaller State High­way 65. Here the Com­pass was able to im­press us once more with its per­for­mance and ride qual­ity. As we drove deeper into Kar­nataka, we en­coun­tered some re­ally bad and nar­row roads that tested the Com­pass’ build qual­ity and we are happy to re­port that there was hardly any ob­sta­cle that shook the Com­pass at any point of time. It took ev­ery­thing in its stride with ut­most ease.

Go­ing through ru­ral Kar­nataka, we wit­nessed a lot of nat­u­ral beauty in the form of lush green fields, sev­eral reser­voirs that looked al­most full due to mon­soon and, of course, there were a few re­ally good and empty patches of tar­mac that were a wel­come change after the bat­tered roads. It took us the en­tire day to reach Madik­eri. Once we reached, we went straight to bed as all of us were tired, not be­cause of the Com­pass but be­cause we had started re­ally early.

The Com­pass, in fact, was ut­terly com­fort­able as there was hardly any fa­tigue at the end of the day. The space in­side the Com­pass was quite good; it ac­com­mo­dated all of our lug­gage with­out any dis­com­fort. As we went to sleep, we did not re­al­ize the view out of our ho­tel room and when we woke up the next morn­ing, we were star­ing at the cof­fee plan­ta­tion. It was sim­ply spec­tac­u­lar; there was cof­fee as far as the eye could see.

After break­fast and a few cups of cof­fee, we headed to the trails of the cof­fee plan­ta­tion with owner Faisal, who was very wel­com­ing and an

ex­cel­lent host. As we made our way into the core of the mas­sive 225-acre San­dalkad Es­tate, we saw work­ers clear­ing up a sec­tion of the plan­ta­tion to sow new plants. Faisal’s pas­sion for cof­fee runs deep as he ex­plained to us the process of how they farm cof­fee at the San­dalkad Es­tate.

The process is quite com­plex be­cause it starts with tak­ing the seed of Ara­bica cof­fee and lay­ing it down on a sheet of damp cloth/cof­fee sack where the seed is left to ger­mi­nate for 45 days. After one and a half months, the seed is trans­ferred into a plas­tic bag with soil in it to de­velop roots. A few days into this process, the seedling is given a shock treat­ment, not a lit­eral shock, but it is moved within the plas­tic case. Faisal ex­plained that this process is nec­es­sary for the seed to de­velop stronger and for more num­ber of roots as with­out the shock treat­ment the sapling wouldn’t have a strong base, which re­sults in a weaker plant. After this the seedling is moved out to the open where it re­ceives proper care for it to grow and be­come a proper plant. From here, the plant goes to the field where the soil con­di­tions have to be per­fect and fac­tors like min­eral con­tent, pH lev­els, ni­tro­gen con­tent, and other fac­tors will help the cof­fee grow well. Th­ese steps are cru­cial in the man­u­fac­tur­ing of cof­fee and they are closely mon­i­tored by the es­tate own­ers

and care­tak­ers as any im­bal­ance will ham­per the growth and pos­si­bly re­sult in the demise of the plant.

Faisal ex­plained that he and his team ex­er­cise ex­treme cau­tion while sow­ing the seeds and that it is this care and pas­sion that has re­sulted in the cof­fee pro­duced by San­dalkad Es­tate be­ing part of the elite Nestlé’s Ne­spresso brand. Faisal told us that their cof­fee is ap­proved by Ne­spresso and they are one of the sup­pli­ers for this in­ter­na­tional brand.

An­other in­ter­est­ing fact that Faisal told us was about how cof­fee got to In­dia. Now there are sev­eral sto­ries but the most talked about is the one where Baba Bu­dan, a sufi saint in 16th-cen­tury In­dia, went to Mecca-Mad­ina and smug­gled cof­fee seeds from the re­gion in his hol­low walk­ing stick and came to Chikka­m­a­galur and planted the seeds there. That is how In­dia got cof­fee. The ve­rac­ity of this claim may still be sub­ject to a de­bate but we can thank Baba Bu­dan for giv­ing In­di­ans this de­li­cious bev­er­age.

The cof­fee grow­ing process was quite in­for­ma­tive but the drive in­side the cof­fee es­tate was the high­light of this story. We were in the com­fort of the lux­u­ri­ous Com­pass with our favourite mu­sic play­ing on the highly in­tu­itive in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem. The soft sus­pen­sion set-up of the Com­pass was a bless­ing as it ab­sorbed the un­du­la­tions of the trail quite well and kept us very com­fort­able. The power and torque of the Com­pass al­lowed us to drive through some re­ally chal­leng­ing stretches with ut­most ease; I hardly touched the throt­tle to get go­ing through the slush and mud around.

The cof­fee ex­pe­ri­ence was mes­meris­ing and it was very com­fort­able and lux­u­ri­ous in the Jeep Com­pass. The high­way drive was but­ter-smooth and even go­ing through the ru­ral roads, which were packed with ab­so­lute beauty, was quite a de­light. It was the Com­pass’ abil­ity to tackle vary­ing ter­rain with ease, keep­ing its oc­cu­pants com­fort­able in the lap of lux­ury, that made us smile through­out the jour­ney. Over­all, the en­tire ex­pe­ri­ence was quite an in­ter­est­ing one and it goes with­out say­ing that we will not look at cof­fee in the same way again as we have gained a lot of re­spect for the peo­ple who are in­volved in get­ting us our per­fect cup of cof­fee.

Pho­tog­ra­phy: Ku­nal Khadse

( Above) The Com­pass on the NH4 with the Be­la­gavi Vid­han Sabha in the back­ground

( Be­low) In con­ver­sa­tion with Faisal, owner of the cof­fee plan­ta­tion

( Right) The in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem is loaded with awe­some fea­tures

This is the un­ripe cof­fee fruit which turns red, in­di­cat­ing that it is ready to be har­vested

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