Indian Coffee Varieties

Introduction to the Indian Coffees

The world’s best shade-grown ’mild’ coffees

Indian coffee is the most extraordinary of beverages, offering intriguing subtlety and stimulating intensity. India is the only country that grows all of its coffee under shade. Typically mild and not too acidic, these coffees possess an exotic full-bodied taste and a fine aroma.

Indian coffee has a unique historic flavour too! It all began with a long, arduous journey around four hundred years ago… when the legendary saint Bababudan brought seven magical beans from distant Yemen and planted them in the Chandragiri hills of Karnataka. The sensations of aroma, flavour, body and acidity that you enjoy with each coffee experience is rooted in these mystical beginnings.

It is often said, the Indian coffee grower pours his life into the crop. Is it any wonder then that India has consistently produced and exported a remarkable variety of high-quality coffees for over one hundred and fifty years!

Growing Conditions

India cultivates all of its coffee under a well-defined two-tier mixed shade canopy, comprising evergreen leguminous trees. Nearly 50 different types of shade trees are found in coffee plantations. Shade trees prevent soil erosion on a sloping terrain; they enrich the soil by recycling nutrients from deeper layers, protect the coffee plant from seasonal fluctuations in temperature, and play host to diverse flora and fauna.

Coffee plantations in India are essential spice worlds too: a wide variety of spices and fruit crops like pepper, cardamom, vanilla, orange and banana grow alongside coffee plants.

India’s coffee growing regions have diverse climatic conditions, which are well suited for cultivation of different varieties of coffee. Some regions with high elevations are ideally suited for growing Arabicas of mild quality while those with warm humid conditions are best suited for Robustas.

Factors Arabica Robusta
Soils Deep, fertile, rich in organic matter, well drained and slightly acidic (Ph6.0-6.5) Same as Arabica
Slopes Gentle to moderate slopes Gentle slopes to fairly level fields
Elevation 1000-1500m 500-1000m
Aspect North, East and North- East aspects Same as Arabica
Temperature 150 C – 25 0 C ; cool, equable 200 C – 300 C; hot, humid
Relative humidity 70-80% 80-90%
Annual rainfall 1600-2500 mm 1000-2000 mm
Blossom showers March- April (25-40mm) February – March (25-40 mm)
Backing showers April-May (50-75 mm) well distributed March-April (50-75 mm) well distributed

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’ organised by Coffee Board of India.

Map of India showing the various regions

coffeeregions

Coffee growing regions in India can be grouped under three distinct categories:

india Logo

Traditional areas representing the southern states of Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

india Logo2

Non-traditional areas comprising Andhra Pradesh and Orissa in the Eastern Ghats of the country.

india Logo3

Traditional areas representing the southern states of Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

The plantations in the south are the cradle of Indian coffee. They include the Bababudangiris in Karnataka, known as the birthplace of coffee in India. The Eastern Ghats and the North Eastern states are newly developed areas of coffee.

Regional Logos with the specifications in terms of Altitude, Rainfall etc.

Anamalais Imagecoffeeregions TN State
Anamalais (Tamil Nadu): Wildlife sanctuaries in this region are the abode of spotted leopards, while the plantations are home to fine, high-grown Arabicas, including the exotic Kents.

 

  

Elevation : 1000-1400 m MSL
Rainfall : 2500-3000 mm
Main coffee type : Arabica
Total area under coffee : 2,500 ha
Average production : 1,500 MT
Main varieties : S.795, Cauvery, Sln.9
Main intercrops : Pepper, Orange, Banana

ArakuValley Imagecoffeeregions AP State
Araku valley (Andhra Pradesh): Home to colourful parrots, it is not unusual to see a flock of chattering red and green birds, darting through trees in this scenic valley.

 

Elevation : 900-1100 m MSL
Rainfall : 1000-1200 mm
Main coffee type : Arabica
Total area under coffee : 20,000 ha
Average production : 3,100 MT
Main varieties : S.795, Sln.4, Sln.5, Cauvery
Main intercrops : Pepper, Mango, Jackfruit, Vegetables

Bababudangiriscoffeeregions KA State
Bababudangiris (Karnataka):Bababudan brought seven ‘magical’ beans from Yemen and planted them in the lofty hills of this region. Deer is often spotted here, grazing alongside plantations abundant with full-bodied Arabicas.

 

 Elevation : 1000-1500 m MSL
Rainfall : 1750-2200 mm
Main coffee type : Arabica
Total area under coffee : 15,000 ha
Average production : 10,500 MT
Main varieties : S.795, Sln.9, Cauvery
Intercrops : Pepper, Cardamom, Arecanut

Biligiriscoffeeregions KA & TN State
Biligiris (Karnatka/Tamil Nadu): Besides full-bodied Arabicas, this region is noted for the sambar – the largest Indian deer with huge antlers.

 

Elevation : 1500-2000 m MSL
Rainfall : 1100-1200 mm
Main coffee type : Arabica
Total area under coffee: 800 ha
Average production : 700-800 MT
Main varieties : S.795, Sln.9, Cauvery
Main intercrops : Orange, Banana, Pepper

Brahmapulracoffeeregions KA State
Brahmaputra:The mighty Brahmaputra which flows through the North Eastern states is the lifeline of this region which is home to the one-horned rhinoceros. This sturdy animal is found in large numbers at the Kaziranga National Park in eastern Assam.

 

 

Elevation : 800-1200 m MSL
Rainfall : 1500-2000 mm
Main coffee type : Arabica
Total area under coffee : 5,000 ha
Average production : 300 MT
Main varieties : S.795, Cauvery
Main intercrops : Pineapple, Pepper, Jackfruit, Vegetables

Chikmagalurcoffeeregion KA State
Chikmagalur (Karnataka): Chikmagalur’s forests and wildlife sanctuaries are abundant with beautiful peacocks, India’s national bird. The peacock loves to show off its colourful feathers, especially during its elaborate courtship dance.

 

Elevation : 700-1200 m MSL
Rainfall : 1000-4500 mm
Main coffee types : Arabica, Robusta
Total area under coffee : Arabica – 37,000 ha,Robusta – 23,000 ha
Average production : Arabica – 29,000 MT,Robusta – 30,000 MT
Main varieties : Arabica – S.795, Sln.5B,Sln.9, Cauvery
Robusta – Peridenia, S.274, CxR
Main intercrops : Pepper, Cardamom, Arecanut,Orange, Vanilla

Coorg Imagecoffeeregions KA State
Coorg (Karnataka): Lush coffee plantations are bustling with honeybees which yield the delicious Coorg Honey, collected by nimble-footed tribals.

 

Elevation : 750-1100 m MSL
Rainfall : 1000-2500 mm
Main coffee types : Arabica, Robusta
Total area under coffee : Arabica – 26,000 ha,Robusta – 56,000 ha
Average production : Arabica – 24,000 MT,Robusta – 69,000 MT
Main varieties : Arabica – S.795, Sln.6, Sln.9; Cauvery; Robusta – S.274, CxR
Main intercrops : Pepper, Cardamom, Orange,Banana, Arecanut

Manjarabadcoffeeregions TN State
Manjarabad (Karnataka): Gentle sloping terrain with small streams and coffee plants provide a natural habitat for the jungle fowl.This yellow-headed bird with a red comb and multi-coloured plumage is generally seen in pairs, close to the coffee plantations.

 

 

Elevation : 900-1100 m MSL
Rainfall : 1000-2500 mm
Main coffee types : Arabica, Robusta
Total area under coffee : Arabica – 31,700 ha,Robusta – 9,400 ha
Average production : Arabica – 21,000 MT,Robusta – 9,500 MT
Main varieties : Arabica – S.795, Sln.6,Sln.9, Cauvery Robusta – S.274, CxR
Main intercrops : Pepper, Cardamom, Orange, Arecanut, Banana

Nilgiriscoffeeregions TN State
Nilgiris (Tamil Nadu): Wildlife sanctuaries in this region are the abode of spotted leopards,while the plantations are home to fine, high-grown Arabicas,including the exotic Kents.

Elevation : 900-1400 m MSL
Rainfall : 1600-2600 mm
Main coffee types : Arabica, Robusta
Total area under coffee : Arabica – 3,600 ha,Robusta – 4,000 ha
Average production : Arabica – 1,400 MT,Robusta – 2,800 MT
Main varieties : Arabica – S.795, K ents, Cauvery Robusta – P eridenia, S.274, CxR
Main intercrops : Pepper, Orange, Banana,Ginger, Vegetables

Pulneyscoffeeregions TN State
Pulneys (Tamil Nadu)A well-known feature of this region is the bright, bluebell-like Kurinji flower that makes a dramatic appearance, once in 12 years. The high-grown Arabicas however, are a predominant sight, year after year.

Elevation : 600-2000 m MSL
Rainfall : 1000-1600 mm
Main coffee type : Arabica
Total area under coffee : 14,000 ha
Average production : 7,500 MT
Main varieties : S.795, Sln.5B, Sln.9, Sln.10, Cauvery
Main intercrops : Orange, Banana, Pepper,Cardamom, Vegetables

Shevaroyscoffeeregions TN State
Sheveroys (Tamil Nadu): The magnificent Gaur or Indian bison is an embodiment of vigour and strength, much like the boldsized Arabicas grown here. This massive animal with its huge head and sturdy limbs grazes on the lower hill tracts of this picturesque region.

Elevation : 900-1500 m MSL
Rainfall : 800-1500 mm
Main coffee type : Arabica
Total area under coffee : 5,000 ha
Average production : 3,000 MT
Main varieties : S.795, Cauvery, Sln.9
Main intercrops : Orange, Banana, Pepper

Travancorecoffeeregions Kerala
Travancore (Kerala): The national flower of India, the lotus symbolises purity and beauty. These bright, fragrant flowers with floating leaves and long stems, grow in shallow waters in this region noted for its Arabicas and Robustas.

Elevation : 400-1600 m MSL
Rainfall : 2000-4000 mm
Main coffee type : Robusta
Total area under coffee : 13,000 ha
Average production : 9,000 MT
Main varieties : S.274, CxR
Main intercrops : Pepper, Banana, Ginger,Vegetables, Medicinal plants

Wayanaad coffeeregions KL State

Wayanad (Kerala): Wayanad is home to the Indian tiger, India’s national animal – a symbol of valour and courage.

Elevation : 600-900 m MSL
Rainfall : 1100-1200 mm
Main coffee type : Robusta
Total area under coffee : 67,000 ha
Average production : 54,000 MT
Main varieties : Peridenia, S.274, CxR
Main intercrops : Pepper, Banana, Ginger, Vegetables

These wonderful and exotic coffees are prepared from washed Arabicas grown in the regions of Chikmagalur, Coorg, Biligiris, Bababudangiris and Shevaroys. The beans are very large, uniform bluish-green in colour, with a clean polished appearance. In the cup, the coffee exhibits full aroma, medium to good body, good acidity and fine flavour, with a hint of spice. This is a rare, premium coffee and truly represents the best quality coffee from India.

Specialty Coffees

Monsooned Malabar AA

Monsooned Malabar

Centuries ago, when coffee beans were transported to Europe in sailing ships, a ‘wonderful’ accident occurred. Monsoon winds caused the beans to swell, change colour and acquire an intensely-mellow flavour that won connoisseurs over. Today, this magic is recreated by ‘monsooning’ the finest Arabica beans to produce a world-famous specialty coffee.

Monsooned coffee or coffee beans ’swollen’ with moisture from the air, is prepared at the curing works situated on the West Coast of Southern India. Stored in special warehouses, moist monsoon winds circulate around the coffee beans, making them swell in size and take on a mellowed but aggressive, musty flavour. This process yellows the bean and reduces the acidity, imparting a heavy, syrupy flatness reminiscent of aged coffees.

For preparing monsooned coffees only dry processed Arabica and Robusta beans are used. The coffees are mainly used in blends to mellow and impart richness to rougher, more acidy coffees. The best grade in monsooned coffee is Monsooned Malabar AA.

Mysore Nuggets Extra Bold

Mysore Nuggets

The might and grandeur of the monolithic Nandi bull statue on Chamundi Hills of Mysore, is reflected in these large, exotic Arabica beans that make this rare, premium specialty coffee, a connoisseur’s delight.

These wonderful and exotic coffees are prepared from washed Arabicas grown in the regions of Chikmagalur, Coorg, Biligiris, Bababudangiris and Shevaroys. The beans are very large, uniform bluish-green in colour, with a clean polished appearance. In the cup, the coffee exhibits full aroma, medium to good body, good acidity and fine flavour, with a hint of spice. This is a rare, premium coffee and truly represents the best quality coffee from India.

Robusta Kaapi Royale

Robusta Kaapi Royale

The stately elephant with its howdah – a canopied seat bedecked with flowers and jewels used during a ceremonial procession – is a sign of Indian royalty. Much like this king of specialty Indian ‘kaapis’, prepared from bold Robusta beans of the best quality.

This coffee is prepared from Robusta Parchment AB from the regions of Coorg, Wayanad, Chikmagalur and Travancore. The beans are bold, round with pointed ends, and grey to bluish-grey in colour. The cup ensures full body, soft, smooth and mellow flavour.