Indian coffee is well known for its well-defined characteristics like the good body, mild acidity, pleasant aroma and flavour in the cup. In addition to the regular grades of green coffee, India produces value-added coffee such as Monsooned Malabar coffee, a unique Specialty Coffee commanding a premium in the overseas market not only for its distinctive quality also for its best blending attributes.
Historically, “Monsooning” of coffee first happened quite by accident in the days of sailing ships, when it took about six months for unwashed (cherry coffee) coffees to reach Europe. During this period of a long voyage from the Malabar Coast to Europe, the coffee on account of being in the damp hold of ships exposed to sea winds saturated by high humidity lost its original colour and acquired a special aged coffee flavour which was liked by the consumers in Europe.
However, with the opening of Suez and speedy transport by steam ships, the transportation time over the seas has drastically reduced to about one month and the coffees reached the European destination without prolonged exposure to high humidity winds over the sea. As a result, the unwashed cherry coffees reached Europe without the characteristic musty monsooned flavour. This led to a complaint from the European consumers who missed the distinctive musty flavour of the unwashed Indian coffees. With a view to cater to this demand for musty flavour coffees, the coffee exporters situated in the Malabar Coast devised and perfected the process known as “Monsooning of Coffee” in which they successfully recreated the unique aged coffee flavour preferred by many consumers in the Norway, France and Switzerland and also in Ireland.
Monsooning is a traditional process for bringing about some quantitative and qualitative changes in the coffee beans to give the characteristics cup quality of monsooned coffee. Principally, the process is a controlled fermentation of the beans within the limits by adjusting the moisture content, which results in swelling of beans to double their original size, change in colour of cherry coffee from golden brown to pale yellow/ straw colour, bring down the density of beans by about 40-60% and increase the soluble solids when roasted and a mellow cup quality.