With its mellow body and smooth, malty finish, this delicious light-coloured Indian coffee is on a par with the better known Pacific coffees.
What does ‘monsooned’ mean? Well, this unique coffee is the end result of a very distinctive processing method inspired by the shipment of coffee from India to Europe in the 19th Century. Beans would be stored below the ship’s waterline and kept humid by the porous wood of the hull, resulting in reduced acidity and a slightly golden raw bean. The producers imitate this method today by exposing natural process beans to moist monsoon winds for around 14 weeks. This recreates the low acidity and golden colour of the beans while also making them swell to about double their original size.
Indian coffee is said to be the finest coffee grown in the shade rather than direct sunlight anywhere in the world. Coffee production in India is focused on the hill tracts of the south Indian states with Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu forming the traditional coffee growing region, followed by new areas developed in the non-traditional areas of Andhra Pradesh and Orissa in the eastern coast of the country. A third region comprises the states of Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Tripura, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh of north eastern India, popularly known as the “Seven Sister States of India”. There are about 250,000 coffee growers in the country with 98% of these classed as small growers.
Karnataka accounts for 71% of total production followed by Kerala, with 21%, and Tamil Nadu, with 5%. Almost 80% of Indian coffee is exported although, in 2009, Indian coffee made up just 4.5% of the global production. Italy accounts for 29% of these exports while 70% is shared between Germany, Russia, Spain, Belgium, Slovenia, United States, Japan, Greece, the Netherlands and France.