Coffee was brought to Chikmagalur by Sufi saint from Yemen “Baba buda”. First coffee plantations mushroomed in Bababudan Giri hills and later spread to other parts of Chikmagalur. There are two varieties of coffee Arabica variety and Robusta variety of coffee. Arabica variety of coffee is grown in higher elevations and Robusta variety of coffee is grown in lower elevations of Chikmagalur. Arabica coffee plants are predominately shade loving plants and need rich tree canopy cover whereas Robusta variety requires partial shade and more of sunlight.
Coffee plantations was extensively expanded by the British in 19th century and local population took to coffee cultivation. Now around 86000 hectares is under coffee plantation. There are around 15000 coffee growers. 97 percent of holding is small holding that is less than 4 acres.
The concept of Coffee plantation stay in Chikmagalur was introduced by British where the officers of British raj spend their summer months in hills of Chikmagalur to escape from the heat of plains. The concept gained huge popularity after 2005 where most of the traditional homes in coffee plantation was converted into homestays and plantation bungalow stays. A typical homestay in Chikmagalur is a coffee estate stay where the hosts have been traditionally growing coffee for generations together. Homestays in Chikmagalur are typical Malnad homestays with traditional Malnad food and hospitality showcasing rich coffee culture of Malnad. Travellers get to know about how coffee is grown, processed and journey from bean to the cup.
Resorts in Chikmagalur became popular after Serai resort was introduced by local entrepreneur who runs one of the largest coffee chain in India. The resorts cater to travellers who want to experience coffee culture of Chikmagalur and simultaneously who want to experience luxury.
British built and stayed in Coffee plantation bungalows in large coffee estates before 1947. After independence, the coffee estates changed hands and the estates where owned by plantation groups like TATAs or private individuals. The coffee plantation bungalows are huge, spacious and strategically located overlooking hills and valleys like Kalgreen resort, Koppa. Flameback resort in Mudigere is a resort where people who want to experience peace and tranquillity overlooking lush green paddy fields.
The Coffee plantations stay experience is not only about coffee alone, but also about forests, hills, wildlife, flora and fauna, sighting rare species of birds, nature photography, water falls, stream and rivers where you can cleanse your aura.
Paddy was traditionally grown in Manlad areas before the advent of coffee. Hence the food in Malnad area is rice based specialties like kadabu, akki rotti, organic green leafy vegetables and non-vegetarian food like fish, Country chicken and Pork are part of traditional diet.