We live in a world where things can get from one place to another very quickly. This wasn’t always the case. At one time, it took an extended period of time to ship coffee and other products from one part of the world to the other.
This is where monsooned coffee beans come into play. It was an accident that turned out to be one of the best things that ever happened to a cup of Joe.
Monsooned Coffee Origin
The creation of Malabar Coffee was completely unintentional. During the time of the British Raj, wooden ships were used to transport green coffee beans from India to Europe through the Cape of Good Hope. During the trip, the high humidity and moist air from the sea transformed the beans during shipment.
As transportation methods improved, Europeans started to notice that the coffee beans from India lacked certain characteristics that they enjoyed for so long. It was determined that the monsoon season and it’s notable humidity and sea air altered the beans. European coffee houses demanded more of these special beans and the Indian growers stepped up to the plate.
Today’s Monsoon Coffee
Things have changed a lot since that historical time when monsooned coffee was made en route to Europe. Today, the improvement in the way coffee is shipped negates the possibility of creating the monsooned coffee as it was many years ago. It is now necessary to create those conditions at the origin: The Malabar Coast in India.
In order to produce monsooned coffee, it is necessary to start with high-quality green beans. These are then sent to the monsooning facility where they are spread out on the floor during the monsoon season (June – September).
As the monsoon winds begin to blow from across the Arabian Sea, it travels through the open-walled warehouse and provides moisture to the bean.
Just like when the beans were transported in the ship, they do not get wet directly. Even though they are in an open-sided warehouse, they are still under a roof so the rain doesn’t fall on them.
It’s All About Moisture
The beans continue to soak in the moisture during the 12-16 week process. During that time, the bean transforms by swelling and changing in color. Perhaps the largest benefit is the reduction in acidity, which makes the produced cup of coffee a pleasure to drink. Monsooned coffee is noted for being smooth and pleasant.
Although the monsoon winds produce a great coffee bean, there are also some issues that need to be avoided. One of those issues is the development of mold, which could be a real problem during the three or four months the beans are exposed to high levels of moisture.
In order to reduce the possibility of mold developing, the beans are turned regularly on the floor. Since the highest quality of coffee bean is desired, they continue to be tended to regularly to ensure even exposure to the moist winds.
After the beans are laid out openly exposed to the moisture for an extended amount of time, the coffee is bagged. It will still sit in the warehouse for the entire monsoon season, being exposed to the winds that pass through the open walls. At that point, the coffee is graded and shipped once the winds subside in October.
Monsooned Coffee Qualities
Although all genuine monsooned coffees are a delight to enjoy, there are various qualities to choose from. These qualities can make a difference in the taste of the coffee as well as the price that you pay.
At the top of the list is the Monsooned Malabar AA. It is produced by Arabica Cherry A-grade beans that are unwashed. If you are looking for the perfectly balanced cup of coffee that’s smooth and full flavor, this is the choice you will want to make.
Two other lesser quality monsooned coffee beans include Basanally and Arabica Triage. These also produce a smooth cup of coffee and tend to be more affordable than the Malabar AA.
If you prefer a Robusta bean, the Monsooned Robusta AA is at the top of the list. The size is slightly smaller but the taste is just as bold as you would get from any robusta bean. When roasted properly, it results in a smooth and full-bodied cup that can be enjoyed on its own.
The Monsooned Robusta Triage is of lower quality but still well worth considering.
A Word About Copycats
If you want to enjoy a true monsooned coffee, it must originate from Karnataka, India. Any true monsooned Malabar arabica or robusta coffees will have a geographical indication to prove it’s genuine.
Life is too short to drink bad coffee. We may grab a cup of joe when we’re in a rush, but as time permits, enjoying a quality cup of coffee will make life worth living.
Have you ever tried monsoon coffee? Let me know your thoughts below!