Cover Story

The Bombay Burmah Trading Company

From teak to tea and coffee

20160930eh74A 150 year old company which founded its fortunes on teak in the year 1863, originally the Bombay Burmah Trading company (BBTCL) was formed as a public company to encourage teak business by taking over the assets and rights in Burma (now Myanmar) of William Wallace. It was not until 1913 that the company turned its attention to tea plantations and invested in suitable areas in South India. The company shifted to coffee soon.

Today, BBTCL of the Wadia group has a group of eight coffee estates situated in the district of ‘Kodagu’ (Coorg) in Karnataka. Situated on a hilly plateau bounded by the Western Ghats on either side, Coorg is known for its coffee plantations all across the country. Majority of brands source their Indian beans from plantations based in this region. The company has its own plantations spread over an area of approximately 4,105 sq km. The average elevation of the upper plateau is 1,066 metres. These factors greatly affect the quality and growth of beans.

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The main crop of the Coorg, coffee, has been growing in the region for over 100 years. It is usually grown under the natural jungle shade with citrus (Coorg mandarins). The cultivation of coffee is a highly intensive process. Coffee was first planted in the Nalknad area by Moplahs, however the region’s first plantation opened in the Madikeri area in 1854.

The first plantation opened in the Bambook district of South Coorg which is spread across 28,733 hectares. Choudicadoo, Fairlands, Toobenkolly, Banangala and Silpi Estates were purchased by the corporation from the Elk Hill Coffee Estates, Edinburgh. Both arabica and robusta crops are grown here and the estate has an in house coffee curing facility. This ensures that the coffee is properly processed and does not lose its identity. They also have organically grown coffee amidst the tonnes of produce by the estate. 100 per cent of the coffee is grown in natural shade which adds to the richness in flavour.

20160930eh61The taste of the Elk hill coffee can be described as smooth and mellow which has led to its immense popularity worldwide. The rich and delicate flavour adds to the delightful taste of the coffee. The company has already won several awards for this unique flavour and richness in premium coffee varieties. The brand has been the number one seller in coffee category on the famous online website Amazon.com for the product ‘ElkHill’ filter coffee. The company has also been awarded ‘The Fine Cup Award’ at the Indian Coffee Awards in 2008. In order to improve the quality of coffee, the brand has undertaken massive replanting operations. Only coffee varieties with good cupping qualities is selected for planting and once the coffee berries are ripen, they are selectively harvested.

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