Indian Monsooned Malabar

Monsooned Malabar is a coffee unlike any other.  Its name refers to both how it’s processed “monsooning” (yep, that’s a verb), and where it’s processed “Malabar.”  It starts with a naturally-processed coffee bean, which is then meticulously weathered, or “monsooned,” to result in a chocolatey, woody, nutty coffee with almost no acidity.

How it started

Monsooning beans began, like many things, totally unintentionally. Around the time of the British Raj, wooden vessels carried raw coffee from India to Europe, around the Cape of Good Hope, during the monsoon months (a 6-month journey). During this passage, the humidity of the hold and the sea winds caused the coffee to undergo characteristic changes and ripen from fresh green to pale yellow.

When modern transportation reduced the length of this journey and better protected the beans, the Europeans immediately noticed that the coffee beans lacked the depth and character that they’d come to enjoy so much. Upon determining that it was the sea air and the monsoon winds and rain that created this unique taste, the industrious Indians looked for a process to replicate these conditions. The verb “to monsoon” was born.

How it’s done

The Malabar Coast in India, battered by monsoon winds, was the perfect place to test their theories out.  As you might have guessed, there’s more to it than simply throwing the beans out in the weather and collecting them later. 

The process starts with arrival of green (normally ready-to-roast) coffee to the monsooning facility in March. The coffee arrives double-bagged to limit the uptake of moisture. Because, for this kind of coffee, the producers want it to be moist, it is re-bagged into single bags and stacked in a warehouse with large open windows that allow the winds and rains of the monsoon to blow in.  Jute is hung on the openings, and adjusted to control the amount moisture, depending on the severity of the rain and wind. 

Once the beans have gone through this process for a few months, they become slightly swollen and faded.  As the rains begin, the beans are raked out onto the patio and then carefully re-raked and shoveled to regulate their moisture uptake.  This process continues until September, when the coffee is then polished, bagged, and exported to anxiously-awaiting roasters like us.

How it tastes

Monsooned Malabar is not for everyone. If you love the floral tones, acidity and high notes of, say, Ethiopian Yirgacheffe, Monsooned Malabar may not be a stretch. However, if you haven’t tasted Monsooned Malabar, you owe it to yourself to give it a try.  We’ve been serving it in the café for a couple weeks now and were not sure people would like it as a single origin; but, to our surprise, customers have been loving it. We’re also using it as an element in our espresso blend, which provides a steady anchor, an earthy quality and virtually no acidity.

Come on in and try a cup or buy a bag. If you’d like to order it online, just email us at Enjoy! And, as always, we’d love to hear what you think of it.

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