Monsooned Malabar

caffe biscotto

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I received this Monsooned Malabar yesterday from omegapd (thanks man!), that he got from a home roaster buddy of his. The beans looked and smelled good enough to eat, right out of the bag. I couldn’t wait to get home to grind some up.

Usually when I get home in the evening, I have a cup of coffee by itself. But I was hungry so heated up some home made pizza to have with my coffee. The pizza was loaded, with mozzarella and spicy sausage & onions. I don’t know if the coffee made the pizza taste better or the other way around, but if you’re ever up to an amazing coffee & food pairing adventure, you should definitely give this combo a try. This was far and above any coffee with dinner experience I’ve ever had. This coffee truly lived up to its aroma and then some.

On a side note, the Monsooned Malabar reminds me of my Sumatran coffees, except with a twist. It was less acidic, smoother and heavier, with a bolder coffee aftertaste that didn’t linger too long. After this, I think the Sumatrans have some stiff competition for my coffee dollar.
 

PinkRose

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Feb 28, 2008
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Hello Mr. Biscotto,

I've read that when people try Monsooned Malabar, they either love it or hate it. There is no in-between.

I'm glad you enjoyed it when you tried it.

I bought a half pound of Monsooned Malabar roasted beans this summer, and I was very disappointed. When I opened the package of beans, they smelled like a musty old basement, and when I made the coffee, the flavor was pretty much the same. I only gave it one try, and then I ended up giving the rest of the beans away.

As they say, "Either you love it or you hate it."

It's great that you enjoyed it so much.

Rose
 
Ah Pink Rose, you misread the label, they were Monsoon "Mouldy-bar" coffee beans you brought, aged in the basement of a dodgy pub in downtown Calcutta! Seriously though, the monsooning process is not as easy as you would expect. We "monsoon"some green (mainly Java) where we are. You need to control humidity, age at altitude and make sure you rotate the sacks in a controlled, scientific way...otherwise the coffee just tastes "baggy". The Java, when aged properly, is super mellow and low in acidity... very nice.
 
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caffe biscotto

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Rose, you'll have to pm me the place where you bought your Malabar, so I don't end up ordering from them. No need to mention their name here, maybe it was just a bad batch for them. :D

Alun, would you say that Indian Mysore can be as unpredictable as Malabar? They're both Indian coffees, so is there a similarity? I mean, as far as the challenges of controlling the climate and storage rotation, etc. and how it can easily turn great coffee into bad coffee? I ask this because my local roaster only has Mysore and no Malabar. :(
 
"Aging" a coffee can be tricky. Firstly not all origins improve with age, infact MOST origins can only be aged to 1-2.5 years maximum from the crop season they were harvested. There are obviously some exceptions to this rule, but not as many as you may expect. I guess its like aging wines that should be drunk early (Beaujolois, Sav Blancs etc...) I must say I am no expert on the Indian origins- however storage at origin before shipping to the US or Europe is always a hugely undervalued component in the supply chain. I have had the horror of seeing some of the storage warehouses in port cities in Indonesia. No wonder greens get humidity, mould and mildew issues. Essentially greens are best stored, where possible, at origin- meaning usually at altitude. This becomes more important when looking at aging 2+ years.
 
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caffe biscotto

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Alun, thanks for the info from the storage perspective. It makes sense that it would be beneficial to the beans to be stored at origin, in their higher altitudes.

From your description of how some beans are stored, I can see how Pink Rose's Malabar could have come across as having a somewhat musty basement smell. I would say there is a certain musty, funky flavor, but in a good way. Musty like a ripe sourdough starter, prepared for a hearty loaf of naturally leavened bread.

Here's Wikipedia's more romantic take on Monsooned Malabar -
The Monsooned coffee originated through accident, when, during the months that the beans were transported by sea from India to Europe, the high humidity and battering of the sea wind would combine to cause the coffee to ripen from the fresh green to a more aged pale yellow.The pale coffee beans yielded the coffee with distinct, mellow taste, low on acidity and created a rage in the market place, especially in Scandinavia. After the invention of faster forms of transport, the beans started being ripened through being left out in trays in the open during the monsoon season (June to August), effecting a similar change in the beans. The coffee is regularly raked and turned so as to evenly expose the beans, collected after a few days, and then dried for two months.

Got funky beans? :D
 
Actually "monsooning" orignated out of Java, not India... however the rest of the blurb which I assume is from a Monsoon Malabar website is true! Monsooning takes time, and the trade winds from Indonesia around the Cape of Good Hope often meant that ships leaving Batavia at a certain time of year got stuck in the doldrums twice on the voyage through to Rotterdam. So, monsooning actually did not happen all year around. The Dutch worked out the difference in taste was directly related to the ammount of time the coffee remained in the hold of the Galleys shipping the stuff. At that stage most coffee was being shipped in wooden barrels, similar to those still used for Jamaican Blue Mountain today. The barrels themselves acted as a microclimate- wood inside wood so to speak. Indeed the advent of faster shipping- especially after the Suez Canal opened in the 19th Century- meant the same affect did not occur- meaning the java/Malabar would be added at origin in warehouses where true monsoon affects- cool evenings, medium humidity etc would help "age" the coffee
 
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caffe biscotto

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Alun, could it be possible that both are true? That the beans originated from Java and were eventually shipped from India to Europe? Here is the website to which the Wikipedia blurb points: http://www.absolutecoffee.co.uk/roasted_coffee.html

I also read that aged beans are frowned upon by coffee purists. Here's what they said in the Wikipedia blurb:
Some coffee purists consider Monsooned Malabar to not be a proper coffee blend, as it has been spoilt.
Even Topher quotes Starsky & Hutch: "Wine is for aging, not coffee." But I think if he's referring to the age of coffee after its been roasted.
This is something new to me, as you know I'm still green when it comes to coffee.

I'm going to purchase five pounds of Indian Mysore tomorrow, hopefully its as good in recipes as the Indian Malabar was with pizza. :D
 
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caffe biscotto

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Although I could drink five pounds within a reasonable period of time, this will be for some recipes/experiments. I want to try it in some unique chocolate moulds too, all top secret stuff, hee hee. :D
 
Yeah old Tophers quote can be confusing. I think Starsky (or Hutch) was probably refering to a terrible cup of coffee they were drinking at a donut shop somewhere in Bay City, rather than the stack of greens at the local roaster they were observing while shooting at bad guys!

Some coffees can be aged- yes the cup will change but it will not make the cup a "bad cup" if the coffee has been aged correctly. But as mentionaed earlier not ALL coffee can be aged succesfully. I think the Wiki "Some coffee purists consider Monsooned Malabar to not be a proper coffee blend, as it has been spoilt" is probably not the most eleqant way of phrasing it... my guess is they wanted to say that the aging changes the cupping quality of the Malabar- so some consumers of that coffee prefer new crop, rather than aged....

...thats my guess anyway
 

crowhue

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What characterises Monsoon Malabar coffee? Ive heard it is left out in tropical weather for a period to soak up the rain but what does that doo to the bean?
 

Terranova

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i also enjoyed drinking the monsooned malabar, the bigger problem is grinding the beans, it made the biggest mess in my kitchen i have ever seen ;-)cheersfrank
 
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