The Ceylon Coffee

ceylon coffee

Long before the tea evolution in the country the main crop development revolved around coffee. Coffee’s introduction to the country began with the Arabs planting coffee not for the berries but for the leaves. The country’s population ignorant back then of the quality of the beans used to use the leaves for cooking and to offer them in temples. Then around 1740 the Dutch began mass coffee production rivalling that of the Java coffee plantation. They found that the country’s atmosphere was perfect for coffee plantation and when experimented with the quality, it was superior to that of the Java. Thus began a love affair which was continued by the British colonial and lasted many years. Under the British rule, Coffee was the largest crop exported by Sri-Lanka providing livelihood to thousands of people. It was deemed as one of the best 10 coffees in the world, such was the quality of the coffee produced here. But Alas! Like all good things this story also came to an end.

Around 1869 the country and the rest of Asia were hit by an epidemic, what we call as “coffee leaf rust” that destroyed the whole of coffee plantation and thus began the origin of the tea and the glorious chapters of coffee were lost in the pages of history. But today after almost 150 years the Sri-Lankan coffee is making a comeback in the country and the world.

Nescafe came to Sri-Lanka with packed coffee and that awoke the native’s long forgotten love for coffee. Then came two people-Harm van Oudenhoven and Lawrence Goldberg. These people believed that some coffee beans must have survived the epidemic and began exploring the jungles in search of these beans. And their guess was absolutely right. They did find the old hidden treasures of the then Ceylon Coffee and plantation of coffee began.

The quality though slowly has begun to increase. The farmers began to identify the better crops and learnt the techniques of crop improvement and selection. The coffee board of India took interest and started guiding them on beans and climate conditions. Little by little the ration of good beans to bad in the coffee shipments improved.

Goldberg took over the Hansa Ceylon Coffee. The company was originally founded by the Dutchman in mid 90’s and It used to bill itself as Sri Lanka’s first gourmet coffee for 150 years specialising in quality Arabica and robust beans. They also operate cafes around the country providing coffee as authentic as you can find in Sri-Lanka. Other coffee places like Whight & Co, Coco Veranda, and Barefoot etc started popping up. Sea side cafes in Galle and luxurious hotels started providing different varieties of coffee. Coffee had finally come back to life.

Although coffee has a long way to go, it has already made a start. So indulge yourself in an authentic coffee at one of the little cafes or your resort or just grab a pack of Ceylon Coffee on your next trip to Sri-Lanka and travel back to the colonial era of coffee. You might even like it more than the tea there (especially if you are a coffee-lover like me). You won’t be disappointed!

The town of Ella

 

Ella-Srilanka (1)

 

Tired of the heat of the beaches and the chill of hills? Let’s head to Ella! This hidden idealistic country village lies in the southern edge of the country and just like its name it is a beautiful place to relax and unwind. Ella is located approximately 200 kms east of Colombo and is situated at an elevation of 1,014 meters above sea level making the weather pleasant year-around. The town itself is a picturesque place with the hills surrounding Ella are all covered with farmland growing vegetables, tea plantations, and rice fields, all making the landscape very lush and green. The small peaceful town along the countryside offers spectacular views and walks through tea plantations to temples and waterfalls. On a clear day one can see you can see the glow from the lighthouse along the southern coastline.

There are a lot of places for accommodations from pocket friendly to pricey and you can also bargain at some places. A variety of cafe’s and fresh home cooking is available to entertain your food buds. Escaping the crowds and going downhill along the single street reaching the edge just below Grand Ella Hotel you will find the trek to Ella Rock starting on the right, it is a 4 hour trip and guides are mostly available if you want one, though you can bargain with them also about the price. Start early morning around 5ish pack your breakfast, take your water, wear proper shoes and keep something warm as the weather might get a little chilly and enjoy your breakfast the hilltop while watching the sunrise. Also through the hills you will find The Ella Gap, showing all the way down to the plains below. There is also a small Buddhist temple on that road to visit.

Another way to start your morning is a trek to Little Adam’s Peak. It is just opposite to the larger Ella Rock and you can start it by going down the Passara Road. It is a 2 hour trek and it is fairly easy for you to find your way around it. Along the way you get to see the magnificent view of the Rawana Ella Falls. These falls are an impressive sight as they plunge for some 90m over a series of rocks facing 6 km below Ella down the Wellanwaya Road. Enroute these falls you will come across the Rawana Ella Cave. The cave is nothing over the top except that it is laced with ancient Indian History.

Further past the Little Adam’s Peak turn-off, you will find the Newburgh Tea Factory. It was built in 1903 and now days are usually exclusively used for the production of green tea. You get to experience the various process and differences between teas and can also buy them as they are o sale. But if you want a far more in-depth experience of the tea process visit the Uva Halpewatte Tea Factory. It’s a 15 mins drive from Ella and the largest in the area. It also is the more informative touring factory. Try going there in the mornings and it isn’t fully operational on Mondays.

So if you are tired of all the travelling Ella is a cosy, warm  and beautiful town to rejuvenate yourself!