Unnamalai Thiagarajan


Tamil Nadu, India

  • FARM
  • Balmaadi Estate
  • ELEVATION
  • 1,200-1,830 m.a.s.l
  • RELATIONSHIP SINCE
  • 2008

 

The Balmaadi Estate has been in Unnamalai's husband’s family since the 1970s, but it was in 2003 that she took over running it. Totally new to coffee farming, she went off and studied, beginning to worry about how to make profitable a traditional farm in a region that is frequently cut off from access by monsoon weather. She realised that the fertilisers and pesticides most commercial farms used would be difficult to get and would need lots of labour to apply (equally difficult in a remote region like this).

It was then that she came across the Biodynamic model, which she's applied ever after. Combining organic principles with spiritual ones, she’s made the most of her isolated location. This means making their own compost, foliar sprays and other treatments from the various plants and material on the farm. It was a great idea to take a challenge and make it into an opportunity, which in turn has produced an interesting and unique coffee.

They grow two varietals: Kent and S-795. Both of these are common to India, but less common in other countries. Kent is a Typica mutation which is thought to have occurred in the early 20th century in India, before being introduced in Kenya (where it has lost popularity to the SL varietals and Ruiru 11). S-795 is thought to be a cross of Kent with a Liberica/Arabica hybrid called S-288 (catchy name, right?), and it's become popular in India and Indonesia for being quite resistant to leaf rust.

Unnamalai Thiagarajen at Balmaadi Estate in Nilgiris, Tamil Nadu, India
Unnamalai Thiagarajen at Balmaadi Estate
Balmaadi Estate in Nilgiris, Tamil Nadu, India
Balmaadi Estate in Nilgiris, Tamil Nadu, India
Unnamalai Thiagarajen at Balmaadi Estate in Nilgiris, Tamil Nadu, India
Unnamalai Thiagarajen at Balmaadi Estate
Balmaadi Estate in Nilgiris, Tamil Nadu, India
Balmaadi Estate in Nilgiris, Tamil Nadu, India
Unnamalai Thiagarajen at Balmaadi Estate in Nilgiris, Tamil Nadu, India
Unnamalai Thiagarajen at Balmaadi Estate
Balmaadi Estate, Nilgiris, Tamil Nadu, India
Balmaadi Estate, Nilgiris, Tamil Nadu, India
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