India is a rarer coffee origin dominated by small growers in the hills of South India. Unusually, most Indian coffee is grown in the shade of other crops like tobacco, mango, pepper and other spice crops. This means that the soil is more nutrient dense and gives a rich and spicy flavour profile.
The story goes that Indian saint Baba Budan returned from a pilgrimage to Mecca smuggling seven raw Arabica beans from Yemen, at a time when its export was strictly controlled, by hiding them in his beard and planting them on the hills of the Chikkamagaluru district.
While this story shows how valuable coffee is to India, its production of Arabica has been massively affected by coffee rust and sales quotas, so we’re only now seeing it emerge on the specialty coffee scene. The divisive ‘Monsoon’ process where the beans are exposed to monsoon weather conditions on the southern tip of India, also sometimes appears in specialty circles.