What do you immediately picture when you hear ‘monsoon’? Like many, I always seem to picture heavy rains along with a whole lot of wind! Interestingly though, the actual name actually refers to the strong winds blowing from the colder areas to the hotter areas. It does however involve a lot of rain. Agriculture in monsooned parts of India rely heavily on the monsoon season. And, yes, you guessed right! So does this coffee!
Monsoon Malabar coffee’s origins date back to the times of the British Raj. During that time, the coffee was exported in wooden shipping vessels which took four to six months, during the monsoon season, to sail around the Cape of Good Hope before reaching Europe. The raw coffee beans were stored below deck and so underwent extreme humid conditions during the long journey. This created changes to the bean (size, texture and appearance) and these changes had an impact of the coffee when eventually drank.
Transportation changed and hence the coffee on arrival. So, to re-create the same conditions, the raw beans are now exposed to the monsoon winds from June to September, in well-ventilated warehouses (for 12 to 16 weeks). The Monsooning process involves careful handling with repeated spreading and raking in regular periods. This process is carried out on the West Coast of India making use of the winds from the Arabic Sea. The beans absorb moisture in stages, swelling to nearly twice their original size and developing colours ranging from pale gold to light brown.
Our coffee comes from the Manjarabad region where small to medium farms, ranging from 2 to 100 hectares, produce monsooned coffee. The miller and exporter, Allanasons, has more than 145 years of experience exporting not only coffee, but also tea. The Allana family sources the coffee from India’s finest estates. It is a must to mention, that the company has achieved the gold trophy for quality in exports every single year since 1992!
This coffee is one of those that is not considered necessarily the best in the world, however, it is different because of its process. It has a lovely smoky, musty taste – that to be fair is not for everyone. We love it for its uniqueness, for what it does to our taste buds and we love to be different, just like this coffee!