Specialty Grade Coffees from India

In addition to its normal grades of coffee, India has also created several specialty grades that are unique to the country.  Josuma’s green coffee offerings focus exclusively on these grades.

Monsooned Coffees

India refers to specially treated Arabica Cherry-AB and Robusta Cherry-AB as monsooned coffees. During the monsooning process, unwashed coffee beans are spread in layers 4 to 6 inches thick and exposed to monsoon winds that are saturated with moisture. Processors use open-walled, brick-floored warehouses in the coastal region of Western India, but leave the roofs in place so the beans don’t actually get wet. Processors rake the beans frequently so they absorb moisture evenly, and then bulk and re-bag them at regular intervals. The whole process takes approximately 12 to 16 weeks.

During this treatment, the beans absorb moisture in stages, swell up to nearly double their original size, develop colors ranging from pale white to golden/light brown, shed their new-crop acidity, and develop a unique, pleasant, earthy flavor. They also become the lowest-acid coffee in the world. [Visit our Espresso Blending section to learn more about the role that low-acid coffee- and monsooned coffee, in particular- can play in an espresso blend.]

Monsooning is unique to Indian coffees. It’s believed to simulate conditions that prevailed in the wooden sailing vessels of old that carried coffee from India, around Africa, and to Western Europe.

There are several grades of monsooned coffees. Of these grades, only the top grades of Arabica and Robusta (Malabar-AA and Robusta-AA) qualify as specialty grades.

Monsooned Arabica:

Monsooned Robusta:

Mysore Nuggets Extra Bold

This is a relatively new specialty grade introduced in 1992, demonstrating India’s commitment to the specialty market. These washed Arabica beans follow all the prescriptions for Plantation coffees, but with tighter grading and sorting requirements. The beans are extra-bold, 90 percent larger than 7.5 millimeters (19 screen) in size, and 100 percent larger than 6.65 millimeters (17 screen). The grade doesn’t permit any peaberries, bits, blacks, or extraneous matter. Moisture content is 9 to 10.5 percent.

This is a premium coffee, and in many ways it represents the “best of the best” washed Arabica coffees from India. The beans are large and uniform, bluish-green in color, and have a clean, well-polished appearance. They provide a better, more uniform roast and promise a smoother, mellower cup than other Indian coffees. In the cup, Mysore Nuggets Extra Bold exhibit full aroma, medium to good body, fair acidity, and fine flavor with a hint of spiciness. Overall, it is a very fine, truly specialty coffee.

Single-Estate/Single-Cultivar Plantation-A Coffees

Although Plantation-A is a traditional grade of Indian coffee, it can qualify for specialty grade if the estate owner takes exceptional care to maintain its integrity. Requirements include not just growing coffee under the proper conditions, but also segregating the beans from different cultivars (e.g. Kent and Cauvery) during the picking, sorting, and processing stages. This preserves the unique characteristics of each cultivar for the consumer’s ultimate enjoyment. When coffees from different cultivars are combined, it often dilutes the best qualities of each, and you end up with a commercial-grade coffee.

Premium Washed Robusta Kaapi Royale

This specialty coffee was introduced in 1993 and is the Robusta equivalent of Mysore Nuggets Extra Bold. The Coffee Board developed Kaapi Royale by re-grading Washed Robusta Parchment-AB and separating out the beans sized 17-screen and larger. This grade tolerates no defects. Because the beans are uniform in size, they roast very evenly, providing the softest cup of all Robusta coffees in the world.  

As one of the highest quality Robustas on the market, Kaapi Royale is well suited for inclusion in an espresso blend. Visit our section on Espresso Blending to learn how to blending for espresso as well as the role that high-quality Robusta can play in a great espresso blend.