Indian coffee is well known for its defined characteristics like good body, mild acidity, pleasant aroma and flavour in the cup. In addition to regular coffees, Monsooned coffee is unique to India alone. These epicurean coffees are fortune coffees to have processed only in India and were launched into international market as early as 1972. Monsooned coffee are unique specialty coffee in the world specialties. It is exclusively prepared and exported only from India to cater to the demands of other countries in the world market. This special traditional process of monsooning is carried on the west coast of Malabar regions renowned for excellent natural resources specifically for the humid monsoon atmosphere to bring qualities and quantitative changes in the coffee beans that offers a unique cup.
History of Monsooned Coffee
In the days of sailing ships, native (cherry) coffee sent to Europe used to take six months for the voyage,
with the result that in the damp hold of ships, temperature and relative humidity prevailing in the high seas, coffee lost its original quality including colour and became white. With the opening of the Suez and speedy transport on steam ships, complaints were received from Europe that the coffee did not have the flavour it had earlier. It was only then the Coffee exporters in Mangalore strived to provide the coffees to the preferred palate and rose to the occasion by devising perfect process known as "Monsooning Coffee" in which the coffee acquired the special flavour preferred by many consumers in Norway, France and Switzerland. Today about 3000 tons of monsooned coffee beans are annually exported from India fetching good price in international Market and is invited by consumers in Italy, Japan, USA etc.,
The popularity of monsooned coffee has been mainly due to the quality coffee produced at controlled conditions prevailing in west coast region of India. The Malabar region lies along the south west coast of the Indian peninsula. Geographically, the Malabar Coast, especially on its westward facing mountain slopes, comprises the wettest region of southern India as the Western Ghats intercept the moisture-laden monsoon rains. The weather conditions prevailing in the
west coast during southwest monsoon is ideal which is essential for monsooning of coffee. The amount of rainfall, the relative humidity required and the temperature in the monsoon months of June to September are crucial factors for monsooning of coffee. The monsoon in the truest sense is observed only around the Indian Ocean. The Centers of action, air masses and the dynamics of Indian monsoon are completely different from the rest of the world monsoon systems. Generally the actual monsoon starts from 20th May and covers by 15th June. The windward side of Western Ghats receives an average of 100-250 cm of rain.
Monsooning is a traditional method for bringing about some qualitative and quantitative changes in the coffee beans to give characteristics cup quality of monsooned coffee. The process of monsooning involves subjecting of the principal grades of cherry coffees to a combination of specialized process over a period of time during monsoon months at the coastal curing works comprising spreading, bagging, stacking coffee in wind rows and repeating the sequence of operations several times for achieving the desired. The coffee samples are then sequence of operations several times for achieving the desired. The coffee samples are then polished through hullers to obtain slight shine and then passed through grader to obtain various Monsooned coffee grades. These coffees are manually garbled to remove unmonsooned hard beans, blacks, cuts and triage. Fumigation of the warehouses is done periodically to prevent mould during storage. Application of ionizing radiation in Monsooning of coffee
for quality up gradation has been carried and has observed to obtain better moisture uptake, decrease in weight/volume ratio, with Accelerated monsooning, complete elimination of my coflora haita improved shelf life (Ahmad et al,) Monsooned coffees are stored under a special technique called Ballooning technique, which helps to maintain good quality of coffees during monsoon and dry season. Adoption of this method enabled to store the coffee lot around four to five months without quality deterioration. Monsooned coffee is generally exported during December and January month. These coffees are packed in new, clean jute bags consisting of details such as type, grade, net mass in kg and the address.
Grading and Garbling specifications of Monsooned Coffees
Arabica Monsooned coffee prepared from Arabica Cherry Coffee are
graded as Monsooned Malabar `AA", Monsooned Basanally, Monsooned Arabica Triage and Robusta Monsooned coffee prepared from Robusta Cherry Coffee are Monsooned Robusta `AA', Monsooned Robusta Triage.
Organoleptic quality of Monsooned coffee
The Monsooned Coffee after the preparation appears Golden yellow to straw colour with good swelling and double in size of the normal green coffee beans, soft, holding moisture of 13% with normal monsooned smell.
Roasting is most certainly one of the great opportunities to refine coffee of required taste. The aromatic nuances are developed from the natural coffee that make it individual and unique. The roasting in case of monsooned coffee is carried out at the medium to low temperature until the beans turns medium brown colour. The slow roasted coffee increases the bulk density. Monsooned coffee beans have showed delayed/slowing of rosting process when heated isothermally at 200°C and a loss of 20% of their weight when roasted in air. (Rajeev Bhat et al., 2002). Colour is not always the indicator for roasting Monsooned coffee. It comes with experience. However, the roast colour value based on Agtron, SCAA roasted coffee colour disk set indicates 59-61 Agtron scale i.e. fair to good roast in case of monsooned coffee.
Monsooned coffee roasted at this standard reveals better cup characteristics retaining smoothness, soft with mellow taste with hint of spice. The roast characters appear medium roast with uniform good swelling of beans, good shine along with one or two place. In the cup, monsooned coffee contains good body/strength, mild acidity, rich toned sweeter and mellow taste, which is the specialty of monsooned coffee (Mellow-reflects a harmonious balance in the body not too acid, not too bitter, but dense and rich).
Monsooned coffee is similar to Indonesian coffee for its cup attributes such as fullbodied, rich sweet, mellow, slight aged Indonesian coffee. It is also good alternate for soft and smooth coffee after dinner. Monsooned coffees can be used in variety of ways. They are used as highlighter in an espresso blend, used in preparation of filter coffee to obtain smooth in the cup. Consumers in Scandinavian countries love it for its special colour and flavour.
Even today, India offers the same quality Monsooned Coffee. Prepared by the unique natural elements of yester years and the special process of today, the Monsooned Coffee still has the monsooned flavour, mellow taste and golden colour view of coffee beans. The Monsooned Malabar coffee means comes from the blend of distinct eco regions, historic contexts of the Malabar coast with a unique mellowness which makes it simply special Monsooned Malabar Coffee.
- Studies on the storage, physical, chemical, Biological, changes in coffee of high Humid condition, C.P, Natarjan, S.K, Majumdar,
K. S. Srinivasan,A. Balachandran, D.S. Bhatia & V. Subramanyam, Indian Coffee, 1961, P-8-12.
- Majumdar, S.K., Muthu, M., Srinivasan, K.S Natrajan, C.P. Bhatia, D.S. Subramanya, V (1969). Studies on Storage of Coffee beans, Control ofAracerus fasiulates in Monsooned Coffee and related storage experiments. Food Science 10: 332-338.
- Rasheed Ahmad, Trivia and science of Indian Monsoon coffee, Indian Coffee April 2000, 3-7.
- Rajeev Bhat, Sanju Francis, B.Y.K Rao, Rasheed Ahmad and Lalit varshney. Thermans, 2002 Thermal investigation on Indian Monsooned coffee.
- Rasheed Ahmad, 2003, Monsooned coffee; impact of environmental factors on fungal community structure, enzyme production profiles and ochratoxin, Aspects of applied biology 68, 2003, Mycotoxins in food production systems.
- Rasheed Ahmad, Rajeev Bhat, B.Y.K Rao & D.R Bongirwar. Application of Ionizing Radiation in the Monsooning of Coffee for Quality up gradation.
- Rasheed Ahmad, Pais, B ad Bonigirwar, D.R (2002) Impact of gamma irradiation on the monsooning of coffee beans Journal of stored product research.