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Indian Coffee, Monsoon Malabar, Monsooned Malabar, Origin Coffee - | Written by Janice Spencer

Monsoon Malabar Coffee - A Remarkable Indian Coffee

Monsoon Malabar coffee is one of the most popular coffees produced in India for the international market, and for many years has been considered a speciality. The history of when coffee was first grown in India goes back as far as the 17th century. Legend has it that a Muslim pilgrim called Baba Budan introduced the coffee plant to India when he smuggled out seven raw coffee seeds from Yemen whilst travelling home from a pilgrimage to The Holy Land, surreptitiously hidden in his beard! He managed to escape punishment for this deed because the number of seeds was seven, a sacrosanct number in Islam, so it was considered to be a religious act. It is said he planted the seeds near his mountain cave at Chikmagular in the Western Ghats. Today this is still an important coffee-growing area and the hills where the first seeds were planted have been named 'Baba Budan Giri' after him. The first coffee plantation in India was established there in 1840 during the days of British colonial rule, and India is now the seventh largest coffee producing country in the world, with just under a third of its coffee being produced in this area.

Monsoon Malabar is a unique variety, produced from Arabica cherry coffee beans grown in Malabar, a mountainous region of southern India, rich in lush vegetation. The high altitude, humus rich soil and the fact it is one of the wettest regions, provide the perfect climate for coffee cultivation. The story of how Monsoon Malabar coffee became the high grade, speciality coffee it is today goes back to the days when the raw green beans were transported from India, around the Cape of Good Hope, to Europe on a voyage that could take up to six months. The environment in which the beans were stored, deep within the hulls of wooden sailing ships, along with the humid atmosphere and sea winds that occurred during the monsoon season, caused changes in the character of the beans. They absorbed water, started to swell up and change in texture, and their colour turned from green to a pale yellow. They also became less acidic. This transformation resulted in a great enhancement of their flavour, and could be considered one of those serendipitous events that occurred in history for the benefit of mankind!

Today this 'monsooning' process is replicated by the beans being transported to the Malabar Coastal regions of Karnataka and Kerala soon after being harvested, washed in spring water and sun dried. Here they are spread across the floors of open warehouses, where good ventilation ensures they can naturally absorb moisture from the Arabian Sea monsoon winds that prevail between June and September. During this time the beans are periodically raked and turned and spread out again, and great care is taken to ensure uniform exposure and prevent mould. The beans are then sorted and graded for quality before being shipped.

Origin, or Single-origin coffees, such as Monsoon Malabar, are sourced from a single geographical area rather than being blended. Many well known coffees owe their names to the areas or plantations responsible for their cultivation, and origin coffees form the basis of the extensive range available At We only source the very finest origin coffees and roast fresh to order giving you the very best coffee experience possible.

Monsoon Malabar is a very popular coffee that has been variously described as being exceptionally smooth, rich, intense, wonderfully mellow, bold, pungent, earthy, sweet, spicy, having tobacco or wood notes, and aromas of chocolate, spice and nuts. This isn't surprising when you consider the beans are grown in the same exotic regions where spices such as anise, cardamon, pepper and cinnamon have also been grown.

Coffee starts to lose its freshness the moment it interacts with the air around it; that’s why we’re strong believers in only roasting to order, and packing our coffees immediately in one-way valve, foil fresh bags. This way, the CO2 in the bags can escape, but air cannot get in. Using this method, our freshly roasted coffee will stay in perfect condition unopened for up to 9 months. Once opened, our coffee should be kept in an airtight container to extend the life of the bean. Coffee beans can also be frozen, providing an even longer means of preserving that freshly roasted taste and aroma.

Those who choose to roast their own Monsoon Malabar beans will notice the difference in their raw appearance to that of other beans. They may look bigger, will obviously be lighter in colour and may weigh less. With this variety it's advisable to start roasting at a low temperature until the first crack, to prevent the surface of the beans becoming scorched. A light to medium roast profile can bring out pleasant earthy notes and a slight sweetness, but some people prefer to dark roast the beans, so bringing out spicy flavours and chocolatey tones. For those who like to experiment, try using Monsoon Malabar in a blend with other varieties. Its low acidity means it can help redress the acidity of certain other coffees. It makes an excellent espresso when dark roasted, particularly because of the volume of crema it produces, and its unique flavours also complement milk based drinks.

Everyone has his or her own preferred brewing method for coffee, and we aim to cater for all requirements by offering a full spectrum of grind options, all the way from whole bean to Turkish grind and everything in between. Simply select your preferred method when adding to the basket and we’ll freshly grind your order before packaging.

Monsoon Malabar is suitable for coffee bean-to-cup, cafetière, espresso and filter machines, and is just one of over 30 sumptuous origin coffees that have to offer, along with our very own secret recipe blends and flavoured coffees.