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
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.
( 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