Coffee Profile – Indian Monsooned Malabar AA

By Rob Stewart

Algebra, trigonometry and calculus caused me many headaches at school and I have India to thank for that, they invented it.  We can also thank them for snakes and ladders, chess and the art of navigation. So too can we applaud India for their efforts in coffee as they produce arguably the best Robusta and some of the very finest A-grade Arabica’s in the world; yet, it is Monsoon Malabar that has become the accidental hero of Indian coffee.

Before the transportation of coffee became a much faster more efficient process, it would take about four to six months to ship it out of India and into Europe.  During the coffee’s journey it would be stored below the waterline of a wooden vessel, which was humid and moist. This environment caused the bean to swell and change colour from green to pale gold, but more importantly, produced a mellow tasting coffee that was easy on the stomach. This unusual environment created a coffee that was popular amongst Europeans, and as a result the ‘monsooning’ process was later developed to simulate the original and unique treatment the coffee received en route to the markets all those years ago.

What happens during the monsooning process? 

On the coastal regions of Western India during the Southwest Monsoon months (June – September), recently harvested beans are layered about 5 inches thick on concrete and brick floors of well ventilated warehouses. During a 12-16 week process the beans are exposed to the moisture-laden winds from the Arabian Sea. To help balance moisture absorption the beans are lovingly raked, bulked and re-bagged regularly. During this process the beans increase their moisture content from the regular 10.5% for Indian coffees, to about 14.5%; helping to make this the lowest acid coffee in the world.

So, what does this coffee taste like? – like the pink musk sticks you can buy from the corner shop, and on the nose it has the aroma of peanuts mixed with caramel, a bit like a snickers bar! This coffee’s biggest asset is its full body and low acidity, and in the really good lots, there will be a pleasant earthiness.

As a single origin it’s got the X factor because it really is left of field, and blending with some more acidic coffees like those from Central America will help even out their sharpness and introduce some great body to the cup. By using Monsooned Malabar in an espresso blend you will create an extra dimension that most standard Arabica blends cannot achieve, but you will need to work out its ideal resting time before consuming. 

The CoffeeLocation: India
Region: Karnataka, Kerala and Tamilnadu and processed on the Malabar Coast
Plant Type/Grading: Arabica ‘Monsooned’ coffee, prepared from Arabica coffee cherries, are graded as Monsooned Malabar AA, Monsooned Basanally and Monsooned Arabica Triage. Robusta ‘Monsooned’ coffee, prepared from Robusta coffee cherries, are Monsooned Robusta AA and Monsooned Robusta Triage.

Cup Profile

Fragrance/Aroma: sweet, peanuts
Flavor: Musk candy, caramel, nutty
Finish:  clean full pallet
Acidity: very low
Body: heavy

Rob Stewart started in the coffee industry in Melbourne well over a decade ago.  Rob has partnered a specialty coffee roasting company, which roasted several award winning blends and is now working with Ducale Coffee in Melbourne, roasting and overseeing barista training. Rob is also a coffee judge for the coveted Sydney Royal Fine Food Show.

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One Response to “Coffee Profile – Indian Monsooned Malabar AA”

  1. Espresso Weekly – Episode 1 « Coffee Folk Says:

    [...] finally, Indian Monsoon coffee explained (via ‘‘): “ What happens during the monsooning [...]

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