The Bean Belt
Myth and history have shaped the inheritance of coffee cultivation in Asia. From Robusta beans smuggled into India by a pilgrim from Yemen to the lucrative export of Indonesian beans by the Dutch East Indian Company during the 16 th century, Asia now supplies a significant percentage of commodity-grade coffee to the market.
Coffee in Ethiopia
Of all the coffee producing countries, Ethiopia is perhaps the most compelling. Its fascination stems not only from the unusual coffee it produces but from the mystery that shrouds so much of it. The explosively floral and fruity flavour of Ethiopian coffee, opens one’s eyes to the diversity of coffee flavour. Most of their coffee come from the wild coffee trees grown mostly in the southwest part of Ethiopia called forest coffees. The bulk production is of garden coffees which grow around a dwelling or homestead.
The flavours of Ethiopian coffees are notably diverse- from citrus, often bergamot, and florals through to candied fruit or even tropical flavours.
Coffee in IndiaThe origins of coffee production in Southern India are entwined with myth. The story goes that a pilgrim named Baba Budan passed through Yemen in 1670s, and while returning smuggled out seven coffee seeds. In 1942, the Coffee Board in India was created by way of the Government act that began the regulation of the industry. Robusta is, in many ways, better suited to India than Arabica. The lower altitudes and climate make Robusta yields higher. Even the best Robusta’s carry the distinctive woody flavours of the species. One of the better-known coffees in India is called Monsoon Malabar, and it is created by an exquisite process called ‘Monsooning’. During the export from India to Europe at the time of the British Raj, coffee was transported in wooden boxes and was therefore subjected to wet weather that came during the monsoon months. The raw coffee absorbed a great deal of moisture, which had a strong effect on the resulting cup of coffee!
Taste Profile:The best coffees from India tend to be heavy, creamy and low in acidity, but rarely particularly complex.
Growing Regions:Tamil Nadu, Pulney, Nilgiri, Shevaroy, Karnataka, Bababudangiri, Chikmagalur, Coorg, Manjarabad, Kerala, Travancore, Wayanad, Andra Pradesh. While India has a very low per capita consumption of India, tea being a cheaper alternative, the population being 1.32 billion, consumption is actually quite sizeable.
Coffee in IndonesiaThe first attempt to grow coffee on the Indonesian archipelago was a failure. In 1696 the Governor of Jakarta was sent a present of a few coffee seedlings by the Dutch Governor of Malabar in India. These plants were lost in a flood in Jakarta, so a second shipment was sent in 1699. These plants flourished
Taste Profile:Semi washed coffees tend to be very heavy bodied, earthy, woody and spicy with very little acidity.
Coffee in Brazil
Brazil has been the world’s largest producer of coffee for more than 150 years. Currently, Brazil grows around one-third of the world’s coffee, although in the past its market share was as high as eighty per cent. Coffee was introduced to Brazil from French Guiana in 1727, while Brazil was still under the Portuguese rule.
Better Brazilian coffees tend to be low in acidity, heavy in body and sweet, often with chocolate and nutty flavours.