Farm: Bibi Plantation
Varietal: Red Catucai
Processing: Fully washed and sun dried
Altitude: 600 to 800 metres above sea level
Owner: Faiz Moosakutty & Family
Town / City: Sunticoppa
Region: Karnataka State
Bibi PB (2016) - India
Five hours drive towards the coast from Bangalore lies the small town of Suntikoppa (population of 20,000), among the Coorg Hills of southern India. This is the heart of the coffee growing area in the state of Karnataka and all around lie small- to medium-sized farms. Located at 600-800 metres above sea level in these fertile hills is Faiz Moosakutty’s Bibi Plantation.
The 250 acre plantation has been in the Moosakutty family since 1960 and is named after Faiz’s mother. Faiz took over in 1990 and has since embarked on replanting the entire estate, aiming to create a model coffee farm. This process is now 100% complete and the Bibi Plantation produces some of the region’s finest coffee. Faiz lives on the farm with his wife, Sonia, and two children – Rihan and Tara.
Mercanta’s relationship with Faiz goes back to around the year 2000. Following the liberalisation of India’s coffee industry in the mid-90s, Faiz happened to come across Mercanta’s website while seeking out private sector buyers for his coffee and got in touch with Stephen (Mercanta’s co-founder). The Bibi Plantation has been supplying us ever since, and Mercanta is now the sole exporter of Faiz’s coffee. Over the years, Faiz has become not only an important business partner, but also a friend; members of the Mercanta team have visited the plantation several times, and Faiz has spent considerable time with us at our headquarters in London.
As those at Mercanta who have visited the plantation can vouch, Faiz does not cut corners and runs his farm in an environmentally and socially responsible way. The coffee is grown in the shade of indigenous silver oaks, jungle figs and rosewood trees, which provide habitat for a vast array of bird and insect life, and the occasional elephant from the nearby forest! While the estate is not officially certified organic, no chemical weed-killers are used; instead weeds are removed by hand so that the cut plants form natural green compost. Micronutrients, manure and compost produced from the skins of pulped coffee cherries are other important, organic fertilisers widely used on the estate.
Some 100 people work on the plantation, around half of whom live on site. The farm provides them with free electricity, free housing and free medical assistance. Faiz also offers interest free loans to assist with the education of workers’ children, and pay back schedules are kept flexible and worked out on a case-by-case basis. As Faiz told us on a recent visit to London, “It is a big responsibility – like looking after a family of 100 people!”