Since I’m a Kodavati from Kodagu, many people I know around the office or outside ask me a recurring question “Does coffee flower smell like coffee?” I always give them a big smile and say…. Well the answer is a BIG “NO”. It has one of the most amazing smells and an eye catching, beyond comprehensible beauty, and they usually end up listening to me blabbering about the beauty and the heavenly smell of the COFFEE BLOSSOM.
Almost every Kodava has seen and smelt it, but do they all feel the way I do? The feeling one gets can come from only the perfectly conducive setting. Coffee blossom is one of the most beautiful sights in the world and has an amazing, mind shattering smell to it. I have seen it all my life yet my mind craves for the sight and smell. Even now when I see the flowers, I pause… have a second look, smell it, smile, nod and go my way. When we were young, during the blossom season I would go to the coffee estate, and roam around aimlessly with the childhood belief of being able to have the fragrance and essence of the flowers become a part of me. My mother who did not like the idea of me wandering in the estate would scare me by saying snakes would come out for the smell. I was and am so scared of snakes, and I would hesitate, but still end up heading out for my douse of perfume! The heady intoxication feeling… the nostalgic feeling always brings a smile on my lips and a feeling of intense joy fills me. Just like how the animals eating fermented Marula fruits in Africa and get hooked instantly, making more trips back for more, if possible I would like to go back to it before I kick the bucket!!
Someone I know even made an attempt to extract perfume from it, but the problem is you have to get the extract from the fresh flowers, flower life is fleeting, and if you pluck the flowers then u destroy the plants ability to make coffee… a real catch twenty two situation for a coffee planter yeah?
If rainfall is even, all the plants across Coorg will bloom at the same time. It’s so romantic… the beautiful weather… milky white flowers filling the entire branches and nodes of the stem along with the dark green leaves (even the buds are beautiful – by itself a sight to behold), the strong aroma from the thousands of flowers and equal number of bees on the flower with their ritualistic dance producing so much “bzzzzzz” (with so many bees it sounds more like a “Guieeee” to me) sound has a strange effect on our brain. (Sometimes even Cicadas join the chorus). All the three senses attacked at the same time with so much pleasure have a heady influence on the mind. After a while you will start walking dazed, almost intoxicated!! It may sound little odd but one must really experience it atleast once in their life time as it is close to the experience mentioned about the “valley of flower in Himalayas” in the book Autobiography of a YOGI. When I read the book, coffee blossom is the closest thing which came to my mind. I am not very sure how many have experienced it but I have surely done it many a times as I love Nature. When the flowers start to dry, the sight turns more somber, and the bees will be gone, but the smell is strangely still heady. Unfortunately now the total effect which I used to experience is eroding as unseasonal rains brings flowers at different times (often you can see flowers plus both young and ripe berries at the same time) and there are not enough bees around as pesticides have had bad effect on them.
The best thing is we don’t have to worry which coffee flower smells the best in the world… all the flowers looks and smells the same!! If you really want to experience the three sensual effects, I would rather advise you visit Robusta coffee plantation than the Arabica plantation. Arabica plantation is also good but Robusta has that romantic touch!! If you do please think of me… thank you in advance. (Part 1 of 9)
Please note that after the part 9 of 9, I will be posting a picture of real romance on coffee drying yard, a once in life time picture…. It is so unique…. Hair raising picture… you have to see it to believe. Unfortunately I never had the privilege of clicking the picture. It was taken by a Kodava unknown to me and was sent by somebody years ago… and if the real owner of the picture happens to see the picture please mail me.