What Is Monsoon Coffee? It’s Surprisingly Rare

What Is Monsoon Coffee?

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As a coffee lover who’s sampled beans from around the world, I’m always on the hunt for new and exciting flavors. One exceptionally unique coffee I discovered many years ago is Monsooned Malabar from India. Never heard of it before? 

If you enjoy trying exotic coffee from around the world, I’d definitely say that Monsooned Malabar is a must-try. As you’re about to find out, India’s monsoon technique transforms these humble coffee beans into something truly amazing. 

In this article, we will explore the rich flavors and long-standing traditions that are intertwined with the name of Monsoon coffee. Additionally, we will delve into the distinctive aging process that imparts this coffee with its remarkable and unparalleled taste profile.

Let’s crack on!

✔ Quick Answer

Monsooned Malabar, a unique coffee from Southwest India, undergoes a distinctive process. Green Arabica beans are stored in open-air warehouses along the Malabar coast, exposed to humid sea winds during India’s monsoon rainfall. This moistness absorption causes the beans to swell and develop a unique earthy and cocoa-like flavor with mellow acidity.

Overview: What Is Monsoon Malabar Coffee?

As I mentioned earlier, Monsooned Malabar starts off like other high-end Arabica coffee beans.

Grown along the tropical southwest coast of India known as Malabar, these beans have an inherent richness thanks to the area’s sandy loam soil and heavy seasonal rains.

But what makes Monsooned Malabar truly one-of-a-kind happens later during processing.

As shown in the table below, during the 4-6 month monsoon period, measurable changes take place as the beans swell with moisture absorption.

Production StageTimelineImpact
Initial Green Coffee Bean StatePost-harvest, pre-monsooning10-12% moistness content
Warehousing Exposure4-6 months – during monsoon seasonAbsorb humidity from winds
Final Moisture ContentCompletion of the monsoon processBeans swell significantly
Color ChangeGreen to pale yellow/buffPhysical change from swelling
Size ChangeOriginal vs. monsoonedRoughly doubles the initial size

Malabar Beans and India’s Annual Monsoon Season

After the coffee cherries are harvested and the beans are extracted and dried, they are still in their “green” or unroasted state. At this point the green Malabar beans would typically go straight to a roaster for the next phase.

However, some clever Indian exporters decades ago realized that exposing the beans to something unusual first utterly transforms the eventual taste profile of the Indian coffee.

That catalyst is India’s annual Southwest Monsoon – a weather phenomenon that lasts from June through September. 

During these months, extremely humid winds blow in from the nearby Arabian Sea. We’re talking saturation levels up to 85% or more.

The Monsooning Process

The green Malabar beans are stored in massive, ventilated warehouses near the coastline to undergo “monsooning”. That means the beans sit for up to 6 months open to the elements as the heavy, moist monsoon winds pass through.

During this time, the beans absorb all that humidity and literally swell to twice their original size. Their water content doubles from the initial 10-12% to 25% by completion. They also lighten from green to a pale yellow or buff color.

unique flavor malabar coffee beans

This monsoon process allows flavor-transforming chemical changes to take place. The swelling cellular structure alters the beans’ proteins, oils, and sugars.

The result is a completely renewed profile, unlike standard southern India Malabar beans.

I’ll dig into the taste next, but as you can see, from India’s heavy rains, something very special is created. The moisture-laden monsoon winds put these beans through an enhancement in the taste department that you won’t find anywhere else on Earth.

Roasting Monsoon Coffee Beans

With its exotic processing pedigree locked in, the next step for these swollen pale beans is roasting. Finding the right roast degree is crucial for allowing the flavors to clearly shine through. 

Each roast option gives a variation on the central cocoa and earthiness theme.

Light Roast

First up is taking the beans to a light brown roast somewhere around the City to Full City range if you’re a coffee nerd.

This preserves more of the inherent qualities and unique monsoon characteristics.

You’ll notice heightened earthy notes like forest floor and mushroom, along with traces of nutmeg and wood. None of the deeper chocolate and caramel range have fully formed, and the finish is brighter and more tea-like.

But you do get a clear spotlight highlighting what the monsoon process introduced – specifically, the lack of sharpness and smooth round mouthfeel. There’s just enough roast-generated acidity balancing things.

▶ Want to learn more about coffee roasts? Make sure to read this article: Types of Coffee Roasts Explained: From Light To Dark

Medium Roast

In my opinion, this is the real sweet spot for Monsoon Malabar coffee, landing in the Full City to Vienna window. Here you achieve a stellar balance between the earthy foundation and sweeter chocolate additions.

The medium brown beans mellow out much of the spicier top notes into a more well-rounded cup. A paste-like heaviness emerges while a late caramel sweetness graces the back end.

Call it an everyday gourmet roast that caters to fans of darker profiles without totally erasing what makes the beans unique. You get the exotic monsoon pedigree paired with accessible flavor.

Dark Roast

Lastly, we have an almost black extra dark roast in the range from Vienna to Italian style. This really spotlights the chocolate message while nearly removing all traces of sharpness.

The high heat also imparts a touch of ashiness or charcoal flavor that blends with bittersweet cocoa undertones and earthy base. It’s extremely rich and indulgent, like dark chocolate fudge, yet smooth as velvet.

roast monsoon malabar coffee

So, in summary, the roast spectrum lets you fine-tune the monsoon effects from exotic light to decadent darkness.

How far you wanna push the cocoa is up to you!

What Does Monsoon Coffee Taste Like? Flavor and Characteristics

Now that you understand the unique processing behind Monsooned Malabar coffee, let’s dive into why it produces such an astonishingly different and exotic-tasting cup of coffee.

Taste Profile

The heavy humidity and constant moisture the beans are exposed to cause flavor-transforming chemical changes to take place internally.

Oils migrate faster through the swollen bean structure while proteins break down. Sugars are also freed up more rapidly.

The results are both bold and mellow – an earthy depth with cocoa overtones, yet lacking in acidity or any sharp punch.

You’ll discover hints of spice like nutmeg and cinnamon initially, followed by a smooth, almost fudgy body. Rather than the bright citrus sparkle of a standard Malabar, the Monsoon process really tones things down into a heavy, round lull.

I’d describe it as resonating with pure umami – that hard-to-pinpoint savory fifth taste. 

For some, it’s an instant new favorite, while others may find it takes a few cups to acquire a taste. But there’s no denying this is a stunning showcase of how coffee can be transformed.

How To Brew Indian Monsoon Malabar Coffee

This mellower, cocoa-centric profile means Monsooned Malabar shines when brewed using manual pour-over or immersion methods. I find that the natural oils in the coffee can properly stretch out and express themselves.

However, the lack of acidity and muted flavors mean it can disappoint when used for standard espresso. There’s just not enough brightness or citrus notes to cut through milk.

No matter how you choose to brew it though, Monsooned Malabar is guaranteed to give your tastebuds something excitingly different from the norm. 

This coffee pushes the boundaries of everything you thought you knew about India’s beans.

Conclusion

After tracing the complete Indian monsoon Malabar process, I hope you have a new appreciation for this exotic specialty coffee. No other beans undergo such a dramatic natural transformation that utterly rewrites the flavor profile.

By harnessing the meteorological magic of India’s rainy summer, green coffee beans swell and mellow out. Earthiness fuses with rich cocoa smoothness. The humidity works its magic – steering the standard brightness and acidity of Indian beans toward lusciously heavy chocolate and spice.

It’s a radical taste reinvention, yet retains an exotic allure. The monsoon wind relaxation gives us a singular coffee – low acid with velvety savory sweetness evoking the echo of monsoon gusts in every sip.

India’s moist winds craft something truly unique here you won’t find anywhere else.

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