The memory of a single cup of Indian coffee; 4 important varieties from India and the 2016/2017 outlook

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Photo Credit: INeedCoffee / CoffeeHero 

Today started bright and early at 3:00 am when my husband's alarm went off for work.  After reading in bed for a bit I decided I was not going to be able to go back to sleep, so I might as well begin my day.  I did that with a shower and a cup of hot, strong, black coffee.  As I sat in front of the laptop thinking about a post on It's Just the Coffee Talking, I randomly thought about a cup of coffee I had about six years ago in a tiny little quirky coffee shop in a Midwestern city.  Never having been there before, I wasn't sure what I wanted and being a "strong, hot and black" kind of girl, the coffee I choose is always important as a bad brew can't be covered up by fancy-schmancy ingredients like syrups and foamy, frothy milk, cocoa or cinnamon.  It is what it is; and there is no hiding bad coffee when you drink it straight up.

I ended up choosing an Indian coffee and unfortunately I have no idea what 'kind' of coffee it was, although at the time I remember I liked it so much I actually scribbled down the name of the variety on a piece of paper.  Being it was over 6 years ago and I've never been back to that area, I've obviously got 'nuthin' to go on for finding it again.

And that is where this morning's post comes from.  A brief and random coffee purchase in a tiny little coffee shop in the middle of a big city and the only information I remember is it was an "Indian" brew.

This morning's research on coffee beans grown in India brought me some basic information I figured I'd post on my site for my own personal reference but if you are interested in learning more, the sources are listed below.

Coffee production in India is dominated in the hill tracts of South Indian states, with the state of Karnataka accounting 71% followed by Kerala 21% and Tamil Nadu 5% of production of 8,200 tonnes. Indian coffee is said to be the finest coffee grown in the shade rather than direct sunlight anywhere in the world. 

Coffee is grown in three regions of India with Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu forming the traditional coffee growing region of South India, followed by the new areas developed in the non-traditional areas of Andhra Pradesh and Orissa in the eastern coast of the country and with a third region comprising the states of Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Tripura, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh of Northeastern India, popularly known as “Seven Sister States of India".

Indian coffee, grown mostly in southern India 
under monsoon rainfall conditions, 
is also termed as “Indian monsooned coffee"

Its flavor is defined as: "The best Indian coffee reaches the flavour characteristics of Pacific coffees, but at its worst it is simply bland and uninspiring”. The two well known species of coffee grown are the Arabica and Robusta. The first variety that was introduced in the Baba Budan Giri hill ranges of Karnataka in the 17th century was marketed over the years under the brand names of Kent and S.795.

Important Varieties

Kents: Kents is the earliest variety of Arabica, selected by an English planter of the same name during the 1920s. This variety remained popular with the planting community till the 1940s, because it was less susceptible to rust. Today, it is grown in a few areas but it is still known for its exceptional cup quality.

S.795: This is by far the most popular Arabica selection released during the 1940s with high yields, bold beans, superior quality and relative tolerance to leaf rust. This selection was developed using ‘Kents’ Arabica, known for its high quality. Even today, the S.795 is a favourite with the planters and is a widely cultivated Arabica variety. S.795 has a balanced cup with subtle flavour notes of Mocca.

Cauvery: Popularly known as Catimor, Cauvery is a descendant of a cross between ‘Caturra’ and ‘Hybrido-de-Timor’. Caturra is a natural mutant of the famous Bourbon variety. Thus, Cauvery inherited the high yielding and superior quality attributes of Caturra and the resistance of ‘Hybrido-de-Timor’.

Sln.9: Selection 9 is a derivative of a cross between an Ethiopian Arabica collection, ‘Tafarikela’, and ‘Hybrido-de-Timor’. Sln.9 has inherited all the superior cup quality traits of Tafarikela. This variety has won the Fine Cup Award for best Arabica at the ‘Flavour of India - Cupping Competition 2002’ organized by Coffee Board of India.

"Coffee production in India is set to tumble to a 19-year low
as dry weather wilts plantations in Asia’s third-largest grower."

Back in April the outlook for 2016/2017 was not good;

India produces mainly robusta coffee, which needs a lot of water. Robusta production may drop by at least 25 percent to 30 percent while high temperatures are threatening arabica with white stem borrower disease outbreak, Gurjer said.
“Where there is no irrigation robusta has been damaged, and I would say quite badly,” Anil Kumar Bhandari, president of India Coffee Trust and a former member of the state-run Coffee Board. “There will be damage to arabica because of the intense heat.”

Karnataka, the biggest coffee producing state, received 52 percent below-average rainfall between March 1 and April 20, according to the India Meteorological Department. Showers were 51 percent below average in Kerala, while the shortfall was 81 percent in Tamil Nadu.

However, a more recent report in August from Wall Street Journal had a slightly better outlook;

"The state-run Coffee Board of India predicts a decline of 8% in the crop year that ends in September 2017, while Aurelia Britsch, senior commodities analyst at BMI Research in Singapore, said she expects production to be down 10%."



Photo Credit: INeedCoffee / CoffeeHero - http://www.flickr.com/photos/digitalcolony/2848515983/

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