The origins of Monsoon Malabar date back to the times of the British Raj, when, during the months that the beans were transported by sea from India to Europe, the humidity and the sea winds combined to cause the coffee to ripen from the fresh green to a more aged pale yellow. In the past, when wooden vessels carried raw coffee from India to Europe, during the monsoon months taking almost six months to sail around the Cape of Good Hope, the coffee beans, exposed to constant humid conditions, underwent characteristic changes. The beans changed in size, texture, and appearance, both as beans and in the cup.
Modern transportation reduced the length of this journey and better protected the beans from weathering and humidity. However, the coffee beans now arriving in European ports lacked the depth and character of the coffee beans previously received. Monsooning is a processing method in which green coffee is exposed to the high humidity conditions present during the monsoon season. Throughout this process, the coffee undergoes complex changes and new aromas and flavors are unveiled.
When the monsoon hits from June through September, the beans are spread out beneath tile roofed, open walled structures where they are raked at regular intervals. The beans are vigilantly raked and turned over many days. During this phase the beans are absorbing monsoon moisture. They are then bagged and stacked in windrows at which point the beans swell. The spreading, sorting and re-bagging is repeated up to three times until the coffee beans acquire a golden hue and a moisture content of 14.5%.
Monsooned Malabar coffee is a Geographical Identification Certified Product (GI Certified) that is unique to the South-West shore of India called the Malabar Coast.
The entire process comprises many months of careful attention. Monsooning is the most time and labor intensive coffee processing method in the world.