India Arabica Monsooned Malabar AAA
Monsooned coffee is absolutely unique to India and a one-of-a-kind rarity. Back in the days, coffee was shipped from India to Europe in wooden freight sailboats and stowed below deck in a humid, hot, and leaky environment. During the shipping season, the monsoon winds swept across the south-western Indian sub-continent, bringing heavy rain to the sea route. The coffee‘s exposure to these humid and warm winds constitutes what we know today as the monsooning process. It describes a striking transformation of the coffee‘s characteristics: When arriving in Europe after several months of sea voyage, size, texture, color, and cup have changed significantly. The beans transitioned from green to pale gold and were found swollen in size due to the absorption of humidity.
Today, monsooning is a purposive, controlled, and labor-intensive process. To recreate the effect of the voyage, sun-dried cherry coffees are spread out in ventilated warehouses at the Malabar Coast in the Indian southwest. Being hit by moisture-laden monsoon winds from June to September, this region proved to be particularly suited. During the monsoon months, the sidewalls of the warehouses are opened to let the winds circulate around the coffee. As a result of the moisture absorption, the beans swell to double their size, lose density, and take on a unique taste. For 12 to 16 weeks, the beans are raked and turned by hand several times a day for uniform exposure. Finally, the coffee undergoes a careful process of polishing, grading, and color sorting to make it homogenous, shiny, and thus ready for export. Monsooned Malabar AAA is the product of high-quality Arabica cherry AAA grade beans subjected to the process of monsooning. Due to the very lightweight of the beans we recommend roasting this coffee by volume and not by weight.
India is full of color: bowls of brick red and ocher spices at vivid markets and turquoise water hitting golden beaches. Verdant volcanic mountain ranges sketch the diversity of India's flora and fauna. Not surprisingly, it also offers a large variety of agricultural produce. Although making up only a low percentage of its exports, India's specialty coffee production has started to draw some serious attention.
India may generally be more known for tea. However, the actual origins of coffee production root back to as early as 1670. According to legend, Saint Baba Budan stopped in the port city of Mokka in Yemen on his pilgrimage to Mecca. There he discovered a coffee tree, wrapped seven grains in his turban, and smuggled them to India. Once he arrived, he planted the beans in his garden near the evergreen, flowery mountains of Chikmagalur- and so the birthplace of coffee in India had arisen.
In his honor, the fertile mountain chains were named after him (Giri = mountains) and are famous for some of the nuttiest Indian Arabicas. Today, there are about 250,000 coffee growers in India – 98% of them being smallholders. Most of India's production takes place in the southern part of the country, in the states of Kerala and Karnataka. The latter is shaped by the profuse Western Ghats, a mountain range inherent to one of the greatest biodiversity hotspots in the world.
While Arabica makes up about 40% of the country's production, Indian Robustas have also gained some reputation and are mostly grown in Kerala. Both Arabica and Robusta beans can also be processed as Monsooned Malabars. This traditional processing method is unique to India and stems from the early days when ships loaded with coffee experienced heavy rainfalls and high humidity on their way to England. Today, the coffees are thus exposed to high humidity during the monsoon period to soak up with water and gain a distinct woody flavor.
|COFFEE REGIONS||Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Bababudangiri, Chikmagalur, Coorg, Kerala|
|COFFEE ALTITUDES||800 – 2,000 masl.|
|VARIETIES||S795, S274, Selection (4, 5, 5B, 6, 9) Kent, Cauvery, Robusta|
|HARVEST PERIOD||Oct – Feb|
|COFFEE FARMS||250,000 smallholders and plantations|
|AVERAGE FARM SIZE||0.5 – 5.5 ha|
|YEARLY PRODUCTION (IN 60KG BAGS)||4,988,000|