Monsoon Malabar, India

Monsoon Malabar is one of those quirky coffees that really can’t be compared with others. It has a set of flavours that are unlike any others and really is the result of a historical accident. During its voyage from India to England during the monsoon season the coffee absorbed  warm, moist air. The beans swelled up and developed a musty flavour, but people liked it!

After transport had improved, coffee drinkers started to notice that their coffee was losing the very characteristics that they appreciated, so back in India they set about trying the recreate, and improve upon the original haphazard ‘monsooning’ process. These days the process is natural – but controlled.

The home of ‘monsoon’ coffee is Karnataka at the southern tip of India – along the Malabar coast. The beans are left to dry slowly in warehouses with open sides. During the monsoon, the beans are transformed, developing unique characteristics. The coffee is raked and turned and sorted by hand and the weather conditions need to be constantly taken into account. A monsoon malabar bean will expand to maybe twice its original size and the fresh green bean will become yellow. This process takes many months and at the end of it the beans look bad. The result is a earthy, spicy and smoky coffee, with little acidity.

Monsoon malabar coffee adds the exotic note to an espresso blend.

Open sided Monsoon warehouse in Mangalore, India

If you’ve been left thinking that all of this rain and damp air goes against all normal practices of storing and caring for coffee, then you’d be right, but of course there is nothing random about the process these days.

The Monsoon Malabar I have been drinking was roasted by James Gourmet Coffee and comes from the Bibi Plantation in Suntikoppa.

I’ve been drinking this coffee all week and have enjoyed its unusual spicy and intensely smoky flavour.

What are you drinking?

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2 Responses to Monsoon Malabar, India

  1. anne says:

    mmm…think I might be drinking that one sometime soon….. !

  2. anne says:

    I bought some monsoon malabar in the Algerian coffee stores earlier today (what a lovely shop that is) so have now tried it with your comments to guide. I had them grind it for my cafetiere. Earthy, smoky, spicy indeed it is; smooth and strong. Very nice! I tried it with milk too, but preferred the taste black. Interesting to get something different – thanks for the prompt!
    p.s. I’m reminded how the algerian stores does an espresso for £1 -while you wait or otherwise – as mentioned in a post before – and at Twinings delightful tea shop on the Strand they offer you the chance to make yourself a free cup of tea out of a wide choice, and sit for a while with it… very hospitable and I imagine good business! Monmouth is very good at offering to take you through a tasting of 2 or 3 of the coffees, if you aren’t sure of your choice or would like to be tutored a little and try something new – great opportunity and you only have to ask!

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