The History of Indian Coffee

April 27, 2015

The annual London Coffee Festival will be heating up international coffee beans this year from 30 April to 3 May. With over 20,000 visitors, the UK’s popular Coffee Festival is a vibrant and must-visit event for all coffee connoisseurs.

If you work in the coffee industry or just love your morning ‘cup of joe,’ the festival has something for everyone. There are over 250 coffee and food stalls to visit.

Royal Nawaab London explores the history of Indian coffee. India may be commonly known for Indian curries and tea but coffee production dominates southern India.

The Origins of Coffee in India

The story of Indian coffee began less than five centuries ago when the coffee beans were introduced into the country by one man.

The origins of each nation’s coffee industry are surrounded in myth and India’s tale is no different. It’s a legend of danger and intrigue about an Indian Sufi called Baba Budan who risked everything to bring coffee to India.

In 1670 Baba Budan travelled on a pilgrimage to Mecca. During his journey, he discovered coffee and decided to risk everything in order to return it to his homeland.

The Arabs of the Middle East were very protective over their coffee industry and there were severe consequences for anyone caught trying to take coffee beans out of their kingdom.

To sneak the beans out of the country, Baba strapped seven coffee seeds to his chest. The number seven is sacred in Islam and when Muslims make their pilgrimage to Mecca, they walk around The Kaaba (most sacred place in Islam) seven times in respect of the sacred number.

Baba then took a ship from the Yemeni Port of Mocha and on his return he planted the seeds in the hills of Chikmagalur, which have since been renamed Baba Budan Hills in his honour. This is the legend that spawned the sixth largest coffee producer in the world.

Indian Coffee Production

Under the British Raj (British rule in India), the coffee industry flourished with the initial use of the Arabica bean but due to an infestation of the coffee rust decease, they switched to the Robusta bean.

Today, the Arabica and Robusta beans are grown in huge quantities. The Arabica blend is more preferred by the international market because of their high quality but this also makes it more expensive. Whilst Robusta is easier and quicker to harvest, it is considerably cheaper than Arabica and consequently popular in to sell.

Monsoon Malabar Coffee

Out of British Raj, appeared the India’s most popular Monsoon Malabar coffee beans. The production process of the Monsoon Malabar coffee bean is unique to India.

The tales reveal that when coffee beans were first exported from India to Europe they experienced monsoon winds combined with the long voyage to give the beans special characteristics.

The beans swelled in size and took on a strong musty and mellow flavour. The Europeans loved this new flavour and the Indian production companies discovered a way to replicate the process back home in India.

During India’s Monsoon season, which is usually June to September, the coffee beans are left out in an open-sided warehouse for 12-16 weeks. This allows them to be exposed to the monsoon winds that have spread around the South West side of India and hit the port of Malabar.

This process changes the nature of the bean by reducing its original acidity to create a smooth blend that has a chocolaty aroma with a touch of spice and nuts.

The production process of the Monsoon Malabar coffee beans have made this delicious coffee bean one of the most famous blends in India.

London Coffee Festival

With the return of the London Coffee Festival this year, it’s worth having a sip of the different international coffees on show. Their different cultural blends have created an assortment of various flavours.

After a coffee infused day out at the London festival, come and join us at Royal Nawaab London to treat yourself to a culinary collection of curries.