Region: Karnataka, Western Ghats Mountains
Producer Type: Private
Altitude: 1100-1200 masl
Genetic Varieties: Kents, S-795, Catimor, Selection 9
Drying Method: Sun Dried
Notes: Almost all Indian coffee is shade grown, and frequently inter-cropped with pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, clove and nutmeg. The cup quality is generally low-acid, mild, and well balanced, with spicy notes and full body.
In 1670, a man named Baba Budan was on a pilgrimage to Mecca and discovered coffee in Yemen. At that time it was illegal to remove green coffee from Arabia and he smuggled 7 coffee beans from Yemen into Mysore, India by tying them around his waist. Once in Mysore, Baba Budan planted the seeds in the Chandragiri Hills. The location was eventually named after Baba and is now called Baba Budan Giri. In 1840, the first coffee plantation was established near the hills where the first seeds were planted and the cultivation of coffee and its consumption spread throughout India and was further enhanced by the British colonial presence.
Coffee production in India has steadily evolved while maintaining many unique traditions. One is the processing of Monsooned coffee. Export of coffee from India into Europe initially averaged about 6 months and the coffee took on a unique golden yellow color as it was exposed to very damp conditions in the holds of wooden ships. Modern transportation both reduced the transit time and better protected the green coffee from the elements resulting in the coffee arriving in Europe without undergoing the same transformation. Consumers developed an affinity for the distinct Indian flavor so the coffee producers intentionally exposed the coffee to Monsoon winds to recreate the process that previously occurred on the long sea voyages.
Monsooned coffee is unique to the Malabar Coast of Karnataka and Kerala and makes use of the moisture laden monsoon winds from the Arabian Sea from June to September. The 3 to 4 month process begins with dry processed high grade Arabica cherries which are then exposed to the winds in well ventilated brick floored warehouses are raked and bagged frequently to equalize moisture absorption. The beans absorb moisture in stages, nearly doubling in size and developing colors ranging from pale gold to light brown. After several more weeks, the coffee is re-bulked, graded again, bagged and moved to a drier region for longer-term storage. The end result is a unique flavor that appeals to a group of ardent fans.