You might know him best for his on-court exploits – most recently for making it to the closely contested mixed doubles final at the Australian Open, but tennis player Rohan Bopanna is a coffee connoisseur too.

Growing up on a coffee estate in Coorg, he’s always had a keen eye on the various processes that go into crafting a blend from bean to brew. After years of gifting the coffee grown on his farm to friends and even other tennis players, Bopanna is finally out with his own line of coffee. He has collaborated with Bengaluru-based micro-roastery and café The Flying Squirrel to launch Rohan Bopanna’s Master Blend – the first product in this line.

The tennis player opens up to MW about growing up with coffee, how he likes to drink it, and what we can expect from the collaboration.

Tell us a bit about the blend and how it is suited to your personal taste in coffee.

The Rohan Bopanna Master Blend is an all-Arabica coffee. The medium-dark roasted Arabica beans are grown in my home estate in Coorg at an altitude of 3600 ft. The coffee cherry takes a bit longer to ripen, giving the sugars in the bean take time to develop naturally white on the plant. Moreover, this blend is made up of a few differently processed beans, which gives it a rich taste with a hint of woody flavor.

Since, I like my coffee with a bit of milk and not too strong, I wanted to create a medium roast blend. The Master Blend, even if had as black coffee, doesn’t taste bitter. I wanted everyone to be able to enjoy this coffee, however they prepare it.

How did the collaboration with The Flying Squirrel come about?

For several years now, I’ve been carrying coffee grown on my farm as gifts for friends on and off the tennis circuit. Since, I am very well versed with the nuances of coffee cultivation, roasting and blending, I was keen on exploring the idea of creating my own line of coffee. I had heard about The Flying Squirrel as one of the owners, Thimmaiah (known as TEJ), is a family friend. Early in 2017, when I spoke to him about this and explored the idea of a collaboration, he really liked it. The Flying Squirrel is India’s finest artisan coffee brand, involved in cultivation and processing of coffee using artisan methods, the blending, roasting and brewing of these beans for over 5 years now, so for me working with the roasters and brewmasters of The Flying Squirrel was the best way to create this unique offering of 100% pure Arabica beans from my estate.

How do you like your coffee? How often do you have it?

To be honest, since I have the coffee from my home (family estate) only, I don’t have it too often since I am constantly on the road, away from home. Hopefully, this blend will be available across the world, and then it will become easier for me to have it more often. Also, I like my coffee a little sweet and with some milk.

What is it like growing up on a coffee estate?

I have grown up on my family coffee farm in Coorg. It is just so beautiful and growing up with so much nature around you is something truly amazing. Everything was so simple. During the coffee harvest season, I used to watch the processing of the coffee and all the allied processes; it was very fascinating. I learnt so much at the estate by just watching and observing and today, that experience has helped me develop my own coffee blend.

How many blends will be available in this collection?

Currently, we have launched the Rohan Bopanna Master Blend, which sells at Rs 449 for 250 gms. I hope to introduce at least a couple of other blends this year, and they will be similarly priced. We are available at The Flying Squirrel in Bengaluru and online on flyingsquirrel.in as well as amazon.in.

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