Any coffee connoisseur worth his brew will trace this rare bean’s glorious history with pride to the hillocks of Coorg.
The coffee industry everywhere is seasonal and shut during the monsoons. However, a handful of units in Coorg get busy now. In the largest coffee producing district in the country, the monsoons mean it’s time for processing the celebrated ‘Monsooned Malabar beans’.
India’s saga with coffee dates back to the late 17th century. A Muslim mystic, Baba Budan, smuggled seven beans from the Yemeni port and planted them on a hillock in Chikmagalur. From here, coffee spread like wildfire across the hilly slopes of the Western Ghats.
Back then, coffee beans would be shipped from India’s Western Coast to Europe in wooden boats. During the course of the voyage, a peculiar thing occurred! The part of the coffee that was stored below the waterline absorbed moisture that penetrated through the wood. This coupled with the humidity and winds caused the coffee beans to get bloated and change hue from bright green to pale gold. Upon arrival, the “monsooned” beans looked more like peanuts and thus was born the famed ‘Monsooned Malabar Coffee’.
This characteristic mellowing resulted in a smooth brew with minimal acidity and a unique nutty, woodsy and slightly weathered taste not found in any other coffee in the world.
Since then the weathering process begin to be simulated on land. Naturally processed coffee beans are laid out in layers in brick or concrete warehouses. These are then subjected to the moisture-laden monsoon winds blowing in from the Arabian Sea.
The perfect blend does exist
The Monsooned Malabar beans have sought the world over for their unique chocolatey and musty taste. It can also be drunk pure but works very well as a base for blending with fruitier coffees, such as Castillo from Colombia or Sidamo from Ethiopia. One of the best uses for these big bodied coffee beans is as the base component of an espresso blend. They supply the blend with plentiful cream resulting in thick, syrupy espresso shots.
SaffronStays Calamondinn Bungalow
Situated amidst a working coffee plantation, SaffronStays Calamondinn Bungalow is a beautiful Colonial bungalow built in the 1890’s. The layout resonates with an authentic, cozy English cottage true to the hillocks of Coorg. Its location is quite perfect, throwing up views of the coffee plantations and hills lined with pine trees on all sides.
Come here to sip on cup-after-cup of the exclusive Malabar coffee whilst basking in the glory of the wondrous surroundings.
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