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India Coffee Tour

We return for another coffee “Bean Belt” tour, this time to India. So far, we have visited Central America, the Caribbean, South America, and Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. For an introduction of the series, our post, Travel The World With Coffee, will give you a quick overview.   Coffee and tea growing in India   Our trip to India is our longest yet. It is almost 9,000 miles from our offices north of Atlanta to our first stop in Mysore. The entire trip takes around 24 hours. Fortunately, this virtual trek takes only a few seconds. Everyone comfortably seated and have their favorite cup of coffee? Well, let’s go!  

India

We’ll start this trip with a brief overview of India. Found in southern Asian, the Republic of India is the seventh largest country by area and is second in population size. In the mid-18th century, India was under the rule of the British East India Company. In the mid-19th century, India came under British crown rule. They gained their independence in 1947.   The country is split into 29 states and seven territories. India is bordered by Pakistan, China, Nepal, Bangladesh, the Bay of Bengal, the Laccadive Sea, and the Arabian Sea. The geography of India includes the majestic Himalayan mountain range. Springing from these soaring heights are the two major rivers which run through the country, the Ganges and the Brahmaputra. The Himalayans protect the country from the freezing winds of Central Asia, making it warmer than other locations along the same latitude. Coffee in India is grown in three areas, Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu. Both Mysore and a portion of Malabar fall within Karnataka, in the southeastern portion of the country.  

Mysore

The State of Mysore is now known as the State of Karnataka. It is found in the southeast region of India. It was renamed in 1973 and it encompasses the Mysore region. In 2014, the Anglicized name Mysore was changed to its Hindi name, Mysuru. Interesting fact, the city is named after a mythical demon, Mahishasura, who was said to be able to take the form of human and of buffalo. The myth says he ruled the ancient area where Mysore is now located until he was killed by the Goddess Chamundeshwari. A temple to the goddess is in the Chamundi hills in Mysore.   Mysore was originally a kingdom ruled by the Wodeyar family from the 16th century through the late 18th century when it was taken over by another family. After the four Anglo-Mysore wars, the British took rulership of the region and reinstated the Wodeyars as a puppet monarchy. It remained this way until India’s independence.   The State of Mysore is known for tourism. The nickname of Mysore is “City of Palaces,” and there are many throughout the city. The Mysore Palace is one of the most popular tourist attraction in the area. Other palaces in the city are the Art Gallery in Jaganmohana Palace, Lalitha Mahal which is now a hotel, and a couple of others now also pulling double duty. St. Philomena’s Church is one of the largest churches in India. It is built in the gothic style with stained glass windows and soaring towers. The Chamundeshwari Temple on top of Chamundi Hill is a noted place of worship. Nearby are the Vrindavan Garden with its dancing musical fountains, the island fortress of Daria Daulat, and Somnathpur which is home to the famous Hoysala Temples. In addition to sightseeing, there are many festivals throughout the year. This barely scratches the surface of things to do in Mysore.   Mysore is the southern-most city in Karnataka and is flanked by two rivers, the Kabini to the north and the Kaveri to the south. The average altitude is 2,500 feet and it is nestled at the base of the Chamundi Hills. Mysore is also home to several lakes. The climate in Mysore is tropical savanna with average rainfall of 32 inches. Temperatures average 86F for highs and 67F for lows. The highest recorded temperature was in 1917 when it reached a steamy 103F. There are three distinguishable seasons in Mysore. Summer is from March to June, monsoon season lasts from July to November, and winter from December to February.   Coffee from India is considered the finest shade-grown coffee in the world. In general, coffees from India have a low acidity and a full body with a subtle spiciness. Our India Mysore “Gold Nugget” is no different. It boasts a bold flavor with superb balance between sweet and spice.    

Malabar

The Malabar coast is part of the State of Kerala in southern India and is kissed by the Laccadive Sea. The prominent export from Malabar since 3,000 BC is spices. In the 15th century, the Portuguese were attracted by the spice trade. This opened the door to European colonization. In the 18th century, the area came under control of the Dutch when the Dutch East India Company ousted the Portuguese. Malabar then came under British rule as a result of the Anglo-Mysore wars. It remained under British rule until India gained its independence. In 1956, Kerala was formed by merging the Malabar district with two other districts.   Kerala is another popular destination for tourists. With the coastline and beautiful beaches, the Ghat hills growing their spices, coffees, and teas, and wildlife intermingling with the city dwellers, Malabar is a unique experience. Ayurvedic tourism to the area is also quite prolific as is eco-tourism. Much like Mysore, there are quite a few festivals and fairs you can take part in. Watch out for the elephants! The elephant is the state animal of Kerala and they take part in the 10,000+ festivals that occur in Kerala.   Malabar lies between the ocean and the Western Ghats mountain range. The weather is affected by the equatorial tropic climate. There are three distinct geographical regions – the eastern highlands, the central midlands, and the western lowlands. The mountains rise to an average of 4,900 feet with some peaks reaching up to 8,200 feet. The average high temperature in the region is 87F while the average low temperature is 74. Rainfall averages 115 inches with the monsoon seasons seeing upwards of 20 inches of rain per month and the eastern mountains getting over 190 inches in a year.   Coffee from Malabar is typically “Monsooned” coffee. This is a processing style rather than a varietal or way of growing the beans. Monsooned Malabar was discovered in the 17th century when ships carrying Indian coffee beans traveled months to reach Europe. The beans were stored in the wet and humid cargo holds receiving no fresh air or sunlight. This caused the beans to swell and become yellow in color. This produced a low acidity bean with a sweet, earthy, and fermented flavor. Today, this process is reproduced by exposing the beans to monsoon winds while being stored in open warehouses. It takes 12 to 16 weeks to complete. Our India Malabar “Monsooned Voyage” is an excellent “Monsooned” coffee. Enjoy the mellow flavor, light body, and distinctive tanginess this delicious brew has to offer.  

Wrap Up

We hope you enjoyed our short and sweet tour of India. Now that we’re back, head over to the gift shop for a pound of delectable Indian coffee. Next week, our travels take us to Indonesia. Hope to see you then!
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