100 % Organic Demeter Biodynamic Certified
Balmaadi Estate is 100% IMO Organic; Demeter Biodynamic Certified, award-winning & heritage single-origin coffee estate located at 4500 ft.-6000 ft. above MSL in Nilgiris - Tamil Nadu, the Blue Mountains of Southern India. It is a mere 50km from the famous hill station Ooty. Coffee was introduced into this valley in the 1840s by a Scotsman, John Ouchterloney. The variety that is now grown is Selection 795 and Kent, a very rare & precious varietal of coffee. Sustainable cultural practices make the plants bear a reasonable yield which ensures the health of the plant and soil
The estate is the happy hunting ground for all animals which roam freely over the vast area. Early morning before the first rays of the Sun swathe the plants you will be awakened by the whistle of the Nilgiri thrush, a small velvet-coated bird often called the ‘whistling schoolboy’. Monkeys of several types swing from tree to tree and are often found perched on coffee bushes choosing the best berries. Elephants can be seen grazing on the Nellibetta grasslands and their dung on the roads is a sign that they have visited at nighttime. No one wants to meet one however handsome he may be!!. Wide-horned ‘sambar’ is seen nibbling on the tender leaves and rubbing their bodies on the trees to get rid of insects. Their cry is heard through the night like the beat of the night watchman.
Balmaadi is home to The Great Indian Hornbill, which nests near the bungalow. We have a great variety of avian life including parrots, bulbul, myna, woodpecker, kingfisher, jungle fowl, and flycatchers. Mountain squirrels can be spotted leaping from branches with their long bushy tails and the giant frogs can surprise you with their skin just blending with the grass.
Remarks of Mrs Sunalini Menon, expert coffee cupper:
"A delicious, full-bodied cup with caramel and citrus finish to tickle your palate" - 2006
"A balanced cup with sweet acidic notes. The delicious flavour of citrus fruit with burnt caramel finish is the hallmark of Balmaadi coffee" - 2005
"A full-bodied coffee with floral flavours in a swirl of citrus hues and undertones of caramel notes. These beans make a great topping for an espresso blend" - 2003
Washed, Honey & Natural is what is practised at the estate. High-quality Coffee Arabicas of Selection 795 and Kent as micro lots are grown at the estate. In addition to the niche, the estate also grows tea and cardamom.
Heritage & People
Everyone is in tune with Nature which is the Supreme one here. It is to this ‘Shangrilla’ that we invite you to be a part. Streams unsullied and bursting with life, sustaining life. The air is so clean that you can live on it. Serene environs. Growing coffee will take you to a different level.
Every farmer is aware of the benefits of compost and is bringing back the practice of keeping cows. Cows will yield milk for all farm hands with the added benefit of dung which is used in compost making and cow urine which in a diluted form is used as a foliar spray.
Natural farming is making a come back which is good news for everyone. Enterprising planters are planting valuable timber which will provide shade to the coffee and become a goldmine for his grandchildren. The high labour demand and scarcity have encouraged the mechanisation of certain activities like weeding, shade lopping, timber cutting, and spraying. This makes agriculture more viable and competitive.
Coffee is grown under a two-tier shade. Tall shade is provided by the native ‘ Shola trees’ and the lower level shade by the nitrogenous Erythrinia and Gliricidia. Shade-grown coffee conserves the soil from heavy rain erosion and also provides the natural nitrogen needed. Slash-weeding green matter is left on the soil as a cover to slowly mulch and the roots remain to hold the soil together.
Biodynamic methods of Rudolf Steiner are being used for the past 10 years. These small homoeopathic doses act like starters and tease the soil ecosystem to search for nutrients available. Balmaadi makes its own ‘panchagavya’ which translates to ‘mixture of five products’ in Sanskrit, referring to the dung, urine, milk, curd and ghee used to make a potent organic fertilizer and pesticide. It comes as no surprise then that Balmaadi is the anglicised name taken from ‘Palmaadi’ which means the udder of a cow in Tamil.
Along with this, we worship the Sun through an ancient Vedic practice called ‘Agni Hotra’. This is a simple practice and the material is used as a foliar spray to protect the plants from insects.
We follow the cultivation methods advocated by Rudolf Steiner of Germany. This is called bio-dynamics. Agriculture depends not only on the quality of the soil but also on the cosmos - movements of the sun, moon and planets. Hence, to maximize the effect of our inputs we follow a bio-dynamic calendar for planting, harvesting, applying manure etc.
We make our compost with material available on the estate - green weeds and leaves, dry weeds (weeds are not a nuisance, but just an indicator of the missing nutrients in the area), pulped coffee husk, cow dung and BD preps 502-507 - which are flowers containing traces of iron, sulphur, potassium, phosphorous, zinc, calcium, magnesium, silica etc.
Cow Pat Pit is made from cow dung mixed with quarry dust and eggshell. To this is added the BD preps 502-507 and this rests in clay pits for 3 months to mature. After which it is harvested and used.
Liquid Manure: is made from any locally available material, fermented for 3 months and used as a foliar spray. We use the leaves of the datura as a pest repellant; the leaves of the erythrina as a source of nitrogen and fish as a protein tonic.
is also called Cow Horn Manure. This is the main BD prep which benefits root development and soil structure. The dung of a lactating cow is collected and placed in cow horns which are buried in shallow pits in autumn. These horns along with the astral forces digest the dung which turns into a humus-like structure by spring. This is then collected and stored in mud pots kept cool in a dark room. A small portion of the BD 500 (25 gms) along with some CPP is stirred (for 1 hour) in 15 litres of water in a clockwise and anti-clockwise direction. This is then sprinkled on the soil over an acre during the descending phase of the moon.
Also called Cow Horn Silica. It improves the form and quality of the plant, helps leaf growth and protects against fungal diseases. Crushed and finely powdered silica is placed in cow horns and buried in shallow pits in spring. The horns rest through the summer gathering all the cosmic light energy and are ready to harvest in autumn. It is then stored in transparent glass jars exposed to sunlight. A very small quantity (1 gm) is stirred in a bucket of water for 1 hour and sprayed in the air over the plants. This is done in the ascending phase of the moon.
Preps are made from flowers and oak bark. These are a source of potash, sulphur, selenium, calcium, iron, silica and phosphorous. Hence these are used in the making of compost, liquid manure and cpp.
Tree Paste: is a mixture of fresh cow dung, cpp, and quarry dust which is applied on the bark of plants as a pest repellant and rejuvenator.
is a concoction of five products from the cow i.e. milk, yoghurt, ghee, urine and dung. These are fermented in the time honoured proportions and sprayed as a tonic.
is a Vedic practice invoking the blessings of Surya, the sun god. At sunrise and sunset, we chant prayers in praise of the Supreme One and make a small offering. The ashes from this offering are sprinkled all over the estate as a pest repellant.
Our code has always emphasised sustainability, environmental responsibility and fair practice long before these became acknowledged international priorities. Knowing the origin of the food has become a need of the hour as the integrity of the processes that create it, the transparency of the supply chain and proceeds-sharing. The principle of traceability, therefore, is central to our cultivation and post-harvest process.
Balmaadi estate is located in the Nilgiris district of Tamilnadu, about 50 kms from the hill resort Ooty. It is nestled in the verdant O'valley criss-crossed by numerous mountain streams. These streams which are the source of life in the valley give the estate its name. Blamaadi is the anglicized form of the Tamil word 'Palmaadi', meaning the udder of the cow. Hence everything we do is a celebration of nature as the Supreme One. We strive by our practices to be the pristine living source.
Harvesting Ripened Cherries
We practice sustainable methods of agriculture. Our estate merges into the forest and hence is the natural home for wildlife. If you should take a quite drive into the Wallwood division around sunset you will chance upon groups of sambhar, bison and barking deer At night elephants and panther roam freely. Monkeys keep us company through the day and now we are creating a special monkey playground to keep them busy with other things, besides coffee berries and tender young shoots. Early mornings are a musical melody of all the avian life. The song of the royal velvet Nilgiri thrush, also called the 'whistiling school boy,' is so enthralling in the hours before sunrise.
Every year we plan our shade cover and try to add many varieties of trees to increase the bio-diversity. In 2005 we planted about 5000 saplings.
No chemical fertilizers, weedicides, pesticides are used. Over the years all our staff and workers have grown to understand the value of organic practices and how it only adds quality to their life and to the environment.
India Cup Awards
Balmaadi Arabica has been adjudged twice as India’s Best Arabica in the Flavour of India, Fine Cup Award contest in 2004 and 2007.