When you think about India, you might only think of extravagant Maharaja palaces, exotic spice blends, and aromatic teas. You will not consider India as a place of finely roasted Coffee or coffee shops, for that matter. However, you might be exceptionally surprised to learn that India is the world’s seventh-largest producer of Coffee.
Indian Coffee is cultivated in the Southern region of India in the state of Karnataka. Good Indian Coffee tastes similar to Indonesian coffees and has a full-bodied taste with acidity, almost like Guatemala coffee. Indian Mysore coffee is produced using the wet-processed method.
If you are a coffee aficionado, you might be intrigued to know more about Indian Coffee and Indian coffee culture. Come ahead with me, while I take you on a journey of Indian coffee tradition.
What Is Special About Indian Coffee?
You may not have tasted Indian Coffee as you would not find it at your Starbucks or any of your local coffee shops.
In the 1940s, Indian filter coffee, a sweetened milky coffee made from a blend of dark roasted coffee beans and chicory, became popular.
Indian filter coffee was a big hit in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Karnataka.
The Arabica bean is the most widely known and ground coffee bean used at all coffee roasters and coffee shops in India. Robusta and Arabica coffee beans are grown in the hills of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Karnataka.
India has been a large producer of Arabica coffee in the last decade. However, Robusta beans have been growing significantly, owing to higher yields that now make up over 60% of all Coffee produced in India.
All Coffee grown in India is grown in the shade and generally in two tiers of shade. The Coffee is often inter-cropped with other spices such as clove, cardamom, nutmeg, and cinnamon, resulting in a more aromatic coffee due to the inter-cropping, handling, and storage of the Coffee.
The growing altitude of India’s coffee bean ranges from 3,300 feet to 4,900 feet above sea level for the Arabica bean and 1,600 to 3,000 feet for the Robusta bean. Arabica and Robusta coffee are grown in well-drained soil, benefiting rich organic, slightly acidic organic matter.
India’s Coffee tends to be somewhat acidic, usually leading to either a well-balanced, sweet taste or a dull, lifeless one.
How Is Indian Coffee Different?
Indian filter coffee is prepared by combining frothed milk, with boiled milk, with an infusion obtained by the percolation of brewing fine ground coffee using a traditional Indian filter. This coffee beverage is commonly referred to as Madras filter coffee, Mysore filter coffee, South Indian Filter Coffee, or “Kaapi.”
Outside of India, the term “filter coffee” refers to drip-brewed Coffee, a different style of preparing Coffee.
South Indian filter coffee is brewed using a metallic device that resembles two cylindrical cups. One of them has a pierced bottom that nests into the top of the “tumbler cup,” which leaves sufficient room for receiving the brewed Coffee.
The top cup has two removable parts:
- a pierced pressing disc with a central stem handle
- a covering lid. The top cup is filled with freshly ground coffee, and the grounds are compressed with the stemmed disc into a flat layer along the cup’s pierced bottom.
The coarser the grinds of the Coffee, the more the Coffee must be compressed or “tamped.” While the press disc is still in place, the upper cup is placed into the top of the cup while boiling water is poured.
The lid is placed onto the cup, and the gadget is left to drip the brewed Coffee slowly into the bottom cup. The chicory keeps the hot water longer, allowing the water to dissolve and extract more ground coffee.
The brew is mostly more robust than traditional Western filter coffee and stronger than Espresso. The Coffee is made by adding one to two tablespoons of the prepared coffee brew into a cup of boiled milk with selective amounts of sugar.
The Coffee is drunk straight from the cup, or “tumbler,” but it is cooled first using a “dabarah,” which is a wide metallic saucer.
The Coffee is served after pouring it back and forth between the “dabarah” and the tumbler in a sweeping arc-like motion by hand.
This process has many purposes: thoroughly mixing all of the ingredients and cooling the hot Coffee to an appropriate temperature for drinking. Secondly, it is for aerating the mixture without adding any additional water.
When it comes to organic coffee beans, it is unfortunate that India still lags behind the Western world and the rest of the Coffee growing nations. Most Indian coffee growers still depend on pesticides and fertilizers.
The 4 Best Indian Coffee Beans
The Indian coffee tradition dates back centuries and would make Latin American countries look like copycats in comparison. Regardless of long-term neglect and a negative reputation for poor quality, Indian Coffee has seen a resurgence of great Coffee over the last few decades.
You can now get your hands on some of the finest coffee beans like monsoon-treated Arabica. I will share my personal list of some of India’s best coffee beans for you to sample and enjoy.
1. Indian Monsooned Malabar, CoffeeBean Direct
The Indian Monsooned Malabar roast from CoffeeBean Direct is at the number one spot on my list. These fine coffee beans are left open throughout the monsoons to collect the sea air and moisture.
The result is a full-bodied, chocolate, spice-flavored Coffee that is ideal for a café au lait! Don’t be very stingy with the amount of this Coffee you use. It is a light but flavorful Coffee that will blow your taste buds away.
Indian Monsooned Malabar beans from CoffeeBean Direct contain slight overtones of chocolate with a very distinct earthiness. This bean is a delicate roast between a Light and City (Medium) roast to lock in its exceptional flavor and all of the intoxicating aroma.
If you choose to go with the whole-bean option, you get to enjoy a freshly ground cuppa joe every time! This $50 bag will last you a few months, which is quite affordable for a premium bean.
What I liked about this bean:
- It offers a choice between whole bean and finely ground
- Offers a range of light, medium, and dark roasted Coffee
- Acidity is between light to medium
- Has a smooth to a medium balanced body
2. Zironeum Peak, Blue Tokai
If you are looking for a decadent, indulgent cup of “Joe,” you would not find a better coffee blend than Blue Tokai’s Zironeum Peak blend.
This Coffee is produced in Pulney Hills, Tamil Nādu, grown at an altitude of 1,375 meters. Zironeum Peak is a light roast from Project Sankalp.
It has a juicy body with citrusy aromas and berries and an almost tea-like aftertaste. It can be enjoyed when brewed as a pour-over or with an AeroPress.
If you have ever been a fan of Riverdale N72 and Harley Estate Pichia, you will enjoy this coffee flavor with lemon, berry jam, and passionfruit notes.
When producing this Coffee, the ripe coffee fruit was sorted by hand and stored in wooden barrels for forty-eight hours, bereft of oxygen to aid fermentation. This has consequently helped to enhance the fruity flavors of the bean.
What I liked about this bean:
- It is a very light roasted bean
- The bitterness levels are pretty low for a premium coffee bean
- Acidity levels are medium-high
- It only costs $6.67 for a 250g bag
- The notes of lemon, berry jam, and passionfruit were delectable
3. Indian Monsoon Coffee, Aroma Ridge
Here is another monsoon bean that is deserving of your attention. The Arabica bean, grown in India, is exported to the United States for roasting and is ground and then packaged before being sold to the coffee markets.
This bean doesn’t have an intense, overwhelming flavor. Instead, you get a smooth, well-balanced bean that is ideally suited for your morning coffee ritual.
The reasonable price for a bag of this Indian Monsoon coffee can quickly become a regular everyday use bean rather than a rare coffee indulgence.
The Aroma Ridge brand may not be the most popular American coffee roaster. However, it does put its customer first. You get to select from many grind choices, ranging from the whole bean, Keurig grinds, and even an Espresso grind.
When you buy a bag of this Coffee, the bonus is that you get a full refund if you are not happy with its flavor. This blend is a little lighter than the smooth CoffeeBean Direct version; however, this bag will stay fresh and delicious for a lot longer than its rival.
If you haven’t tried an Indian Monsoon coffee bean yet, I recommend that you start off on a bag of this first, as it is the most affordable bag so far.
What I liked about this bean:
- It has very low acidity levels
- It has a very distinctive flavor that is achieved by storing the green Coffee in warehouses during the Monsoon rains.
- It has a full-bodied, smooth taste, with some hidden chocolatey notes.
4. Varadymullai Estate, Blue Tokai
Unlike most Blue Tokai blends, this bean blend is grown entirely in the Varadymullai Estate, founded in 1945.
Although only one-fifth of the land is dedicated to growing Coffee, the Varadymullai Estate produces only the finest quality Arabica variations including, S9, Chandragiri, and San Ramon.
The estate of Varadymullai administers the processing and cultivation of the bean to ensure the best quality and exceptional flavor.
This light roast retains the complex flavors of these beans grown at 4,000 feet. This light roast extracts the sweet and sour fruity notes as an alternative to diluting the bean with toastiness.
You can expect your Coffee to have red grapes, sweet lemon, and prune undertones. Blue Tokai is synonymous with providing a wide variety of packaging options to choose from.
The ground variety is something to highlight as you can get the bean pre-ground for your AeroPress or drip-brewer. Instead of using traditional brewing methods, you can even sample a channi grind for coffee steeping in a fine cup-sized sieve.
This coffee blend has evidence of a spicy flavor due to the Varadymullai Estate also growing other crops such as tea, cardamom, and pepper.
What I liked about this bean:
- Has hints and tones of Mausambi, Red Grape, and Prune
- 100% Authentic Arabica Coffee
- It contains flavors of tea, cardamom, and pepper
India is synonymous with exuberance, spices, and vibrant colors. Therefore, it is natural for India’s coffee tradition to adopt the same characteristics of this mystic country.
I would advise you, as a coffee lover, to give one of these coffee beans a try the next time that you buy a bag of beans. You would be guaranteed to taste the richness and authenticity typical of Coffee grown in India.
You might be pleasantly surprised by the distinctive spicey notes synonymous with all of India!