Edmund Hull in his book ‘Coffee Planting in Southern India and Ceylon’ says that Coffee Arabica originated in Caffa in southern Abyssinia and then found its way to Yemen.
Many say that coffee is not an Indian drink, but how many know when and where was coffee brought and grown in India. According to John Shortt’s ‘A Handbook on Coffee Planting in Southern India’, Baba Budan, a Muslim pilgrim, brought the brew from Mocha, a port city in Yemen, in the 17th century and introduced the variety in the uninhabited hills that came to be known as Baba Budangiri.
Baba Budangiri Arabica is grown across 15,000 hectares around the original hills, where it was first planted. Over the last few centuries, coffee plantations grew beyond Baba Budangiri and the adjoining Chickmagalur and spread to Kodagu and Hassan in Karnataka, and Wayanad, Travancore and Nelliampathy regions of Kerala. It is also grown in the hilly regions of Palani, Shevroy, Nilgiris and Anamalais in Tamil Nadu. The non-traditional areas of coffee-growing in India include certain pockets in Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Nagaland.
Now Baba Budangiri, 250 km from Bengaluru, where coffee was first grown in India, is going for Geographical Indication (GI) of its variety of the Arabica brew.
On January 1, the Coffee Board filed an application for the GI tagging of Baba Budangiri Arabica and four other varieties — Coorg Arabica, Wayanad Robusta, Chikmagalur Arabic and Araku Valley Arabica — with the Geographical Indication Registry at Chennai.
Coffee Board is also profiling the majority variety grown in Baba Budangiri, a variety called Selection-795. Selection-795 (S-795) is considered to be the natural descendant of two of the oldest African cultivars of coffee — Coffee Arabica and Coffee Liberica — and a third variety is called Kent. Currently, S-795 is the most prominent coffee grown at Baba Budangiri.