We attest that the reinheritance of the Robusta species with a specialty identity unto itself is an essential marker for the evolution of Indian specialty coffee, for good reason.
Robusta is factually the hardier species that can withstand greater temperatures, produce greater yields, and ensure a sustained supply of specialty coffee to the world at large in the form of a successor to the Arabica species.
ABOUT SALAWARA ESTATE, KARNATAKA, INDIA
Salawara Estate, the name of which literally embodies "a string of blessings", was first established in the 1880's by colonial proprietors. The estate was consequently taken over by The YDN group, in whose care the estate has been for the past three generations.
Today Sharan and Eshwar Gowda, third generation planters themselves, run the estate. Spread over 145 hectares of land, the estate is situated at the foothills of the Western Ghats, near the Sakleshpur and Belur regions of Karnataka. The specialty robusta grown at Salawara Estate is intercropped with produce such as pepper, areca nut, oranges and silver oak trees. Surrounded by five man made lakes, Salawara estate practices sustainable irrigation which helps attract and provide for flora and fauna.
We're more than honoured to steward the #RobustaRevolution with them.
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Robusta being the second largest coffee species under cultivation, next only to arabica, has suffered a bad reputation from a panoply of prejudices. With the robusta revolution, we're reclaiming robusta as a canvas for radical evolution of the Indian specialty coffee supply chain.
Anatomically, Robusta is half the size of the Arabica bean, but makes up for that concession with its caffeine concentration, which is double that of Arabica. Essentially, Robusta is half the size, and twice as powerful. Historically, Robusta’s potency has been the chink in its armour, because caffeine is intrinsically a bitter molecule. As a general outcome across the board, if any coffee — regardless of species or varietal — is processed without proper attention to detail, the sensory output will suffer considerably.
Historical processing paradigms tied to imperial greed and ambition, resulting in inferior sensory profiles for Robusta coupled with the shaky foundational coffee processing knowledge coupled with the inherent disposition of Robusta towards bitterness has over time, tied perceptions of inferiority to Robusta. A renewed processing paradigm that mirrors the meticulousness meted to Arabica coffee is helping redefine Robusta as a thing not to be trifled with.
We’re now reinheriting and elevating Robusta, starting with Salawara Estate.
Robusta is more resistant to infirmity. Robusta is more resilient to changes in temperature and climate. Robusta produces significantly greater yield outputs. Robusta requires considerably less attention and upkeep compared to Arabica. Robusta is also a hardy crop that is much easier to cultivate than Arabica, even at lower altitudes, and in greater volume.
This shows us that Robusta is a much more nuanced case study than simply “bad”.
It is important for us to consider Robusta in terms of its strengths because we're now revising history with it; colonial planters used Indian coffee growing terroir to fuel the commodity supply of coffee globally through Robusta cultivation. Its time to reclaim Robusta and give it the elevated platform it deserves. And if we’re staring at a future irreversibly marred by climate change, we’re going to need Robusta in our arsenal.
Inevitably, sensory prowess is a serious concern, and that’s where specialty processed robusta makes an entrance. Robusta processed meticulously, tailored to the unique and standalone creation that Robusta is, results in seriously good specialty coffee. Robusta can be specialty. We’d also profess that specialty robusta must be considered in its own light, and not the shadow of specialty Arabica. After all, with the sensitivity of Arabica to rising temperatures, there’s a good chance Robusta might outlast Arabica.
To align our craft bakehouse with our microlot coffee, we’re now using specialty robusta instead of Subko house blend for these curated products.
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