J Martinez India Monsooned Malabar Coffee, the name suggests the unique process used to cultivate this coffee on the Indian Malabar Coast. In a labor-intensive effort culminating during the summer monsoon months, farmers expose the beans to humid winds in long open-sided sheds. The exposure to the moist to the moist monsoon air causes them to swell. This process emulates the long sea voyage in wooden ships that coffee beans from the Malabar Coast used to take to travel to the coffee houses of Europe. The first “Monsooned” coffee happened quite by accident deep in the holds of early wooden sailing ships. The coffee absorbed moisture and swelled. The flavor of this climatologically processed bean became popular in Europe and remains so. The effect on the taste is a distinct mellowing of the flavor and reduction in acidity.
The J Martinez India Monsooned Malabar Coffee is shade-grown and the trees are inter-planted with peppers, spices and fruit, which may account for the exotic bit of spice that is detectable in the flavor. The end product is an almost musty tasting bean that maintains the mellow character common among Indian coffees. And don’t let the lack of fragrance from the ground bean fool you, the coffee comes alive when brewed. The essentials, including a nutty, caramel taste with a tinge of spice, demonstrate how a soft and smooth coffee can still be vibrant.
The whole bean Indian Monsooned Malabar comes in 1 lb. bags packaged in gift boxes and is available in a dark roast.
History notes from J. Martinez:
India was the first place outside of Arabia to cultivate coffee, essentially breaking the monopoly that the Turks held in the coffee trade.
Baba Budan, a revered Indian Sufi making the Hajj to Mecca, was the smuggler who managed to get seven viable coffee seeds, taped to his stomach, out of the port of Mocha in Yemen. He returned to plant the seeds in the Western Ghats, or Mysore Hills, which parallel the Malabar Coast, as the southwest coast of Indian was once known. There is a mountain, Bada Budangiri, and shrine dedicated to the famed Sufi.
This area of India was of interest to the Europeans as early as 1505, when the Portuguese settled Goa and coastal areas to capture the spice trade. The Dutch became interested in controlling the western Indian coast to protect their interests in Dutch Ceylon from Portuguese invasions. The lucrative pepper trade in Malabar was another attraction for the Dutch, though they never were able to monopolize trade in the spice. The Dutch colonized Malabar from 1663 to 1766 when routed by Hyder Ali of Mysore.
Descendents of the trees that Baba Budan successfully planted in India ended up in Java, courtesy of the Dutch, spreading from there to the other parts of Dutch-controlled Indonesia: Sumatra, Sulawesi, Timor and Bali. The Dutch, who had already been trading coffee in the East in the 17th century (prior even to there being a market for the product in Europe) became the primary supplier of coffee to Europe in the 18th century. Amsterdam remained the center of the European coffee trade until the French overtook the Dutch in the 19th century.