I’m so not a coffee person. I don’t need my daily fix of java to get me through the day. The aroma of freshly roasted coffee beans does precious little to stimulate my senses. But that afternoon, in the middle of the dense forest, while the chirruping of cicadas would get interrupted by the distant trumpeting of elephants every now and then, I was beginning to reconsider my relationship with the bean.

I was booked in for a signature coffee therapy experience at the Oma Spa that is part of The Serai, Bandipur, which is a brand new resort that rolls over 19 acres of perfectly manicured gardens and lush meadows. This cozy resort is wedged in the heart of the 880 sq km Bandipur National Park, itself a part of Karnataka’s Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve, which includes the Nagarhole National Park, the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary and the Mukurthi National Park.

Oma, meaning ‘life giver’ in Sanskrit, is a very unique spa based on the principles of holistic, natural, back-to-the-earth wellness and beautification. Housed a few metres away from the main resort area, the calming spa is a standalone structure made to resemble a wooden log cabin, done up in soothing earth tones with plenty of natural elements like driftwood and cane used in its interior décor.

While I was being led to my therapy room by my Manipuri masseuse Mary, she explained to me that my three part Oma Signature Therapy was to be a three-and-a-half hour long journey into the therapeutic world of caffeine. Apparently, the wonder substance operates in three ways when applied to the skin—it not only is an antioxidant and a diuretic but is also a vasoconstrictor [it narrows blood vessels] that helps in eye treatment for reducing puffiness and dark circles as well as tightening the skin around the eyes.

And so, channelling my inner hedonist, I began my pampering session with the 90-minute Oma Signature Massage [INR 3,500]. For this therapy, Mary employed a combination of long strokes and acupressure techniques, using nourishing oils blended with aromatic coffee extracts, that for once had me in a trance with its mildly cappuccino-like fragrance. As all my tense musculature began to submit to Mary’s healing touch and I could feel the stresses of my urban existence melt away into oblivion. Time also seemed to take a vacation of its own as I slept through the last half hour of the massage only to be woken by Mary’s gentle clanking of bamboo sticks to indicate the end of part one of my therapy and the onset of part two.

This second instalment was an hour long Oma Signature Body Scrub [INR 2,200] in which my skin was polished using ground coffee beans that are grown on the resort’s estate. The brisk scrubbing, I was told, has an exfoliating effect, reducing cellulite [not that I had any!] and stimulating the lymphatic system. While I may not know much about all the above properties, one thing was sure: the exotic scrub did leave my skin glowing, with every pore exuding that warm scent of coffee I was beginning to like!

For the grand finale of my treatment, I was told to shave off my stubble as Mary prepared for my 60-minute Oma Signature Facial [INR 2,800]. Once again, the wonder bean coffee was basking in all its glory as my face was pampered and slathered with copious amounts of lotions and potions containing coffee extracts. Concentrating on my eyes, Mary made sure the puffiness was gone by the time she was done with me, while the fine lines around my mouth were bestowed with her attention as she pummelled them into submission. Assured that they would fade away after regular use of the coffee lotion, I was packed off with my own stash of cosmetics and unguents to take back home.

P.S. It’s been three months since my trip to Bandipur and my face has never looked so a-glow and nourished, thanks to all the coffee that gets slapped onto it every day… and the occasional cuppa that goes in as well!

The healing power of coffee

  • Its beneficial properties keep your skin healthy
  • The antioxidants in coffee protect your skin against free radicals that can cause acne, eczema and other blemishes
  • Coffee acts as sun block and prevents sunburn and wrinkles
  • The aroma of freshly brewed coffee can combat stress due to sleep deprivation.

This was first published in the June 2013 issue of  Complete Wellbeing.

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