Indian coffee is well known for its well-defined characteristics like 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 the Europe. During this period of long voyage from the Malabar Coast to the
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 compliant 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.