Ratnagiri Estate: the man, the myth, the legend
"The big lesson in life, baby, is never be scared of anyone or anything" - Frank Sinatra
I am not a coffee professional. For those of you who see me as one, you are too kind. For those of you who know that, you are right. I am just a hobbyist who is a little too passionate about his coffees and attempts to contribute in whatever limited way possible. This is a disclaimer I wanted to outright mention because my views may be conflicting with others. I will try my best to justify why I feel what I feel, objectively. Now let's get to it.
Never has it happened before that people are seeking an estate over a roaster. Never.
Everybody has been hyping up Ratnagiri after Ratnagiri for god knows how long (lockdown started in 2019 or 2020?).
And just last week, it started "raining Ratnagiris" (quoted from CBC - Discord).
Today we have 3 celebrated roasters who are retailing different lots of this estate and there are 2 others (or more; unverified) who are planning to release their roasts soon. The hype of this estate was mind-boggling to me for I had never heard of them other than Curious Life retailing one back in 2019 (when ache din actually chal rahe the). After talking to a few estate owners, I realised that seeking estates over roasters is a dream come true for a producer. The feedback loop shifts from the roaster to the producer and suddenly the demand becomes pull rather than push for both, the estate and the roaster. But how does this happen?
There are 2 aspects to rationalising this:
Try the product and be a judge of the what and the why
Get a view from the producer themselves and connect the dots
In this blog, I will explain the 1st aspect. Judge the product a.k.a. Ratnagiri Estate coffees. I sourced the 5 available ones and have reviewed them here:
(Note: These are rolling reviews. Will be updated every few days as per performance)
The first coffee I tried was the Corridor Seven one. I was lucky to source it the day it was launched (wfh and hometown benefits). Mithilesh was generous enough to make me try it via an espresso and it was absolutely out of the world. He recommended that I should attempt to brew an Aeropress out of it and work the recipe to get a flavoursome cup for he had prepared an espresso profile. On first look, the coffee gives off a strong astringent flavour profile against a background of bitters. But then the coffee grows on your palate and I experienced what I did during the Subko trials. I knew that this coffee is going to be a challenging one.
I received the 3 Curious Life coffees a day later. Upon brewing, the coffee tasted heavy on the astringents and was extremely unpleasant. I turned to the Corridor Seven one to cleanse my palate. I brewed the 3 coffees several times and all of them turned out to be the same. I did not expect this from such a hyped up coffee. But then I realised that I may be doing something wrong. I messaged Neeraj and he suggested to keep it simple "Use hot boiling water and go finer till you hit astringency". I did. And it transported me to a different world altogether. I absolutely fell in love with it.
I think this is what happened. I imagine that hot water gives more extraction power, while it risks burning the coffee. I found extraction of sweets to be higher at higher temperatures. Also, drinking it hot numbs your palate against the astringents and the balance seems to be tilted towards the sweets. The cup is flavoursome for a very short duration and it is challenging to brew it given that temperature drops happen very fast in the range of 100°C to 90°C. I am of the view that these are all factors that contribute towards making this a competition coffee. And what is a competition coffee? A coffee which requires skill to extract the best. A coffee which makes champions. A coffee which requires commitment.
Now, I am not going to go any more deeper into this. Why? I have given you enough. You now have a baseline to operate on and I want you to experiment.
These roasters are some of the best in the world (I really wish I knew how to get them the recognition they deserve on an international platform). But the creation of a legendary coffee such as this is the responsibility of a producer. What they have achieved is a first. They had a product - the man. They were a hype- the myth. And then they delivered - the legend.
There may be more to this. Stay tuned.