Who would ever have believed that India is the sixth largest coffee producer in the world? When we think of India, we generally think of it as a nation of avid tea drinkers and we are not wrong: even if the country produces lots of coffee, the actual consumption of the drink by Indians is still extremely low, even although it is currently on the upturn.
The large yields produced by the country are due to its location – in the Coffee Belt, the area in which the coffee plant thrives best – and to the fact that it is also the scene of a unique event which enables the coffee to be processed in an innovative way (more of this later on ?).
Not much is known for sure as to how coffee first arrived here. Legend has it that, in 1670, on his way back from Mexico, a pilgrim named Baba Budan passed through Yemen and managed to steal seven magical beans that he then planted in the Karnataka region, now the area that produces the most coffee in India.
The main characteristics of Indian coffee (generally speaking of course) are its low acidity and full bodied taste: two perfect elements for our beloved espresso.
How is Indian coffee classified?
Many very different methods for classifying coffee exist, sometimes differing from country to country (in Honduras, for example, it is classified based on the altitude at which it grows). In India the beans are classified based on their processing method:
- Plantation Coffees: beans processed using the washed (or wet) method;
- Cherry Coffees: beans processed using the natural method;
- Parchment Coffees: the Robusta bean (one of the finest in the world) processed with the washed method.
In addition to these, there is another truly unique method: the Monsooned Malabar, or “Monsooned” coffee. A method stumbled on almost by chance.
Long ago, Indian coffee was transported to northern Europe by sea, on voyages that took months. When they arrived, the beans were covered in an odd yellow sheen, created by the humidity and the salty sea air. But once they had been roasted and ground, they released a strong, spicy flavour that immediately won over the palates of the Europeans.
Today, since travelling by sea is so much faster, the force of the monsoons is used to create the same effect: the beans are placed in large warehouses with no walls and left exposed to the heat and humidity of the monsoon winds.
But India is enormous: where is all this coffee produced?
The production areas of Indian coffee
The Indian regions or states in which coffee is produced are:
- Kerala: this is the state in which approximately 30% of the nation’s coffee is produced, including the unique Monsooned variety;
- Karnataka: legend has it that this is the area where the very first beans were planted. Today half of all Indian coffee is produced here (with 70% Robusta);
- Tamil Nadu: area in which 10% of the nation’s coffee is made;
- Eastern and Northern Regions: small areas with small producers, mainly of Arabica beans.
Have you fallen in love with Indian coffee? If so, discover our blends made with single origin beans from all over the world, including India, roasted individually to offer you the authentic flavour of fine quality coffee.