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Leaving the heat and mosquitoes of the Tamil plains behind it, the road to Kodaikanal climbs 7000 feet through thick forests of eucalyptus, cypress and acacia. Alongside the large trees are stands of pear, interspersed with rhododendron and magnolia. The air is heavy with the scent of wild flower and spice. Below Kodaikanal, on the slopes of the Palani Hills, bounded by the Western Ghats and the Nilgiri Hills, a wooden sign nailed to an oak tree tells you that you have arrived at the organic Nandanvan Estate. It covers 30 acres of hillside, home to elephant, Indian bison and black squirrels. Here three generations of the Mariwala family have grown coffee, on hillsides in the lee of the Western Ghats, where the cool temperatures and light monsoon help give the coffee sweetness and depth of flavour. Elephants roam the unfenced estate, regularly eating the bamboo roofs of the drying huts. The estate replaces the roof, as the wildlife make the land, and the land makes our coffee. The coffee cherries grow alongside cardamom, chilli and lemon trees, and those notes appear in our coffee.
We found the estate two years ago and began importing their coffee beans, through Mumbai to London. They are roasted with great skill at the Tate Roastery on Millbank in small batches, then despatched to our customers. We pack our coffee in recyclable Kraft paper bags, and the sugar cane paper labels are compostable. All of the packaging that we use to deliver the coffee to our customers is made from recycled paper, so we are plastic-free.