An annual trek is a must at Chillibreeze, given that we have the good fortune of being located in scenic northeastern India which is truly blessed by nature. We make good use of the fresh and serene environment that is so easily accessible to us!
While our earlier treks were focused mainly on just fun and adventure, after the launch of Zizira, our treks have become more purposeful. Groups of Cber's have gone exploring remote locations of Meghalaya to discover the vegetation grown in such areas. Many times, our teams have found ancient crops or medicinal plants. About two years ago Chillibreeze and Zizira found out that there were coffee farmers in Meghalaya, but sadly they had no buyers.
This year, the Chillibreeze fun trip was to a small village called Mynriah, 37.9 kilometers away from Shillong. The village is rich in agricultural vegetation and coffee production.
Mynriah is a tiny village where there is no supply of electricity. They rely on the solar power that lasts for 7-10 hours after sunset.
This visit was Chillibreeze’s first, and Zizira’s third trip to the beautiful and hospitable village where coffee is the primary product. Ralph Budelman, the CEO of Chillibreeze, had visited Mynriah earlier and had the following reasons for taking Chillibreeze for a follow-up trip:
1. He wanted Chillibreeze to taste the coffee that was produced by the people of Mynriah.
2. If the coffee tasted good, Mynriah’s coffee would replace the regular coffee Chillibreeze consumes.
3. Make a deal with the farmers to produce coffee for three straight years for Chillibreeze and Zizira.
The weather was gloomy, and it was raining heavily. But this did not affect the trip and the enthusiasm of the team. The group took a two-hour drive along Mawkynrew Road to Umtong Village.
There are no roadways to Mynriah village, so the group had to hike along with guides to the village for two hours along a steep path down a canyon. The trail was slippery as it rained all through. The team had a lot of fun carrying lanterns and breathing in fresh air while trekking downhill about 800 meters.
It was 7 p.m. when the team reached Mynriah. Tired and exhausted, the group was led to a Kindergarten School to spend the night. The team immediately started settling down – some preparing the room for sleeping, some got busy preparing food while a few others met the villagers.
Ralph and the team had the chance to converse with Mynriah’s oldest settler from the mid 60’s, a respectable man who spoke on behalf of the village. His vision was to lead Mynriah to the development and be “a role model to their neighbors.” He had a vast knowledge of business, and his insights on long-term business deals are very beneficial.
He shared a brief history of the production of coffee in Mynriah Village.
Mynriah’s Coffee Story
Several years back, the village bloomed with coffee beans plants. Mynriah grew coffee because they believed coffee would fetch an excellent price in the market, so the farmers invested a lot.
A single Arabica Coffee Plant takes up to 5 years to reach maturity. Only then can coffee berries be harvested, with optimal harvesting months being December-February.
As they started selling, they found that they were not getting a fair price for the coffee with The Coffee Board as their only buyer. They lost hope and stopped tending to their coffee plants. Now, only 15 plants remained with only 3-5 families growing coffee.
This story interested the team and also brought forth a feeling of sympathy. The village showed much potential, all that was needed was a little help and recognition from a lot of people to be successful.
The team was enthusiastic about the coffee deal and the plan they had for the following day.
Chankupar and two other Chillibreeze staff members went to the farmers’ houses along with several other men from the village the following day. After Chankupar and team tasted the farmers’ coffee, which they loved, they closed the deal with Mynriah’s farmers.
The old man explained that the villagers wouldn’t mind growing coffee again. All they wanted is to get a reasonable price for the coffee produced.
The deal was to produce as much coffee as they could. Chillibreeze and Zizira will buy all the coffee at the agreed price for three straight years. After the 3rd year, the deal will be re-negotiated.
Chillibreeze gave them some Cardamom seeds as a gift.
Ralph invited the old man to come over to Zizira when they deliver the coffee at the end of the year.
Meanwhile, a few of the other team members gathered the children and parents in the school. The team entertained them with songs and dances. They conducted small games for the children and gave away prizes.
Chillibreeze gave blankets as parting gifts to Mynriah villagers and purchased 16 Kgs of coffee.
The team’s next stop was Syltham, another coffee-growing village, a two-hour walk from Mynriah.
The scenery on the way was breathtaking, pine trees towering over pathways, cliffs overlooking several majestic hill valleys and small streams gurgling away…words do not do justice here!
After a brief visit in Syltham, the team headed back with a long climb uphill for two hours to Umtong Village, where RP and Mr. Peter, the reliable Chillibreeze transport resources, were waiting.
The journey concluded with the team having a delicious dinner at City Dhaba, Shillong.
The trip to Mynriah, was a pleasant, fun-filled experience for the team members.
Chankupar says, “The trip was a memorable one. We had an adventure of a lifetime. We had the chance to learn many things. For most of us, it was a first, a business trip into the remote areas of our state. Though everyone had aching muscles, our hearts were content. Luckily for us, Mynriah was not as cold as we expected since it was in a valley surrounded by hills. It was like a fortress.”