Monsoon Malabar coffee: Can it be replicated?

Esther Gibbs
September 8, 2023
Monsoon Malabar coffee, Monsoon Malabar coffee in a glass jar, white coffee beans, green coffee, raw coffee,

Processing coffee in experimental ways has helped highlight the potential of increased value for producers around the world. Anaerobically fermenting a lower-grade coffee may increase the sweetness and complexity of the cup. In turn, this allows farmers to receive a higher price for their products.

One of the oldest processing methods is Monsoon Malabar, also known as monsooning. The processing technique dates back to when global trade was dominated by imperial concerns, such as the British East India Company. Green coffee grown across the Malabar Coast was often transported from India to Europe on wooden sailboats.

This exposed the green coffee to a lot of salt water and wind. Upon arrival in European ports, the beans had often changed colour and developed a distinctive set of characteristics.

Marcel Binley, the managing director at Bella Barista reveals how the brand has experimented with its own unique take on Monsoon Malabar and recently launched SALT MARSH® Coffee.

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter

Sign up

Behind the scenes at Bella Barista

Bella Barista is a family-owned organic coffee roaster based in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, UK. “We’re also the UK’s leading prosumer online coffee machine retailer,” explains Marcel. “Our core purpose is to create a coffee lover’s paradise by providing the ultimate coffee experience for homes and businesses.”

In addition to selling prosumer coffee skits, Bella Barista roasts coffee on a set of 15kg and 30kg roasters. Sourcing via direct trade, the brand has a range of retail coffee, single origins, and blends for its customers to explore. Beyond this, the brand offers wholesale support for its business customers.

Marcel explains the roastery is 100% organic and Demeter certified. This certification guarantees that the product comes from biodynamic agriculture. “During a visit with one of our longstanding Brazilian producers, we learned about the benefits of organic and biodynamic coffee firsthand. On the flight home, the decision was made and we haven’t looked back.”

This inspired the team to create something exciting to offer its customers. So, Bella Barista began looking at how to use the British landscape to replicate a processing method that is rare within the specialty coffee industry.  

“We’re always looking to innovate and push the agenda on organic coffee,” says Marcel. “We recently created SALT MARSH® coffee: a rare and unique roast inspired by Indian Monsoon Malabar coffee.”

Green coffee, monsoon malabar processing, salt marsh, bella barista, green coffee in jute sacks, Photographer: Harry Corey Wright
Photographer: Harry Corey Wright

Replicating Monsoon Malabar processing

Traditionally, the method was derived by exposing green coffee beans to the monsoon winds of the Malabar Coast in India. Over time, however, innovations in transportation reduced the travel time of green coffee and provided better protection against harsh weather.

As a result, Monsoon Malabar has become a processing method within itself. This also means the coffee characteristics that were once incredibly popular are less readily available. While Monsoon Malabar coffee can be purchased from importers, different methods have been used to recreate the unique flavour profile.  

Marcel explains a common way to replicate the original ‘sailboat’ conditions is to build large, open bars along the coast of Malabar. “The coffee sacks are stored in these barns during the monsoon season, hence the ‘Monsoon Malabar’ label. This was largely the inspiration behind our SALT MARSH® coffee.”

To achieve the optimum taste profile, Marcel explains they sought out a distinct environment to replicate the Malabar process. “We ended up choosing the North Norfolk coast. We found an old boat house set amongst the Salt Marshes. This is where we hung a test batch of our UK-exclusive Camocim Estate organic green coffee beans for around four months.

“The beans subsequently took on the humidity of the environment and SALT MARSH® Coffee was born,” he says.

custom coffee tins, coffee tins, customised coffee tins, recyclable coffee tins, monsoon malabar coffee, monsoon malabar, Salt Marsh Coffee

Packaging that highlights a unique coffee 

When experimenting with the Monsoon Malabar processing method, Bella Barista chose to use Brazilian coffee from its partner, Fazenda Camocim. The farm is Regenerative Organic Certified and run by Henrique Sloper de Araújo, who inherited it from his grandfather in 1996.

Before running the farm, Henrique was president of the Brazil Specialty Coffee Association and came first in 2017 Brazil Cup of Excellence for the Pulped Natural category.

“I’ve spent a lot of one-on-one time with Henrique in Brazil learning all his methods of regenerative farming,” Marcel says. “The results are very apparent in his coffees.” The Brazil natural coffee used has high acidity and great body. Once left out in the Norfolk sea air, the acidity is dramatically reduced to provide a more balanced cup.

“The beans have been hung up in sacks in a boathouse that is within metres of the sea,” Marcel explains. “They are exposed to violent winds that are saturated in moisture and contain high levels of sea salt.” The exposure to the winds causes the beans to swell as they absorb moisture. During this time, the beans also turn from green to off-white.

“The latest batch of Norfolk Salt Marsh aged coffee spanned over two seasons,” he adds. “The beans were exposed to a cold winter and the warmer June months. It’s been one the of best cupped from recent batches!

“It contains stronger hints of popcorn and has the desired effect of reduced acidity that is synonymous with Monsoon Malabar coffee.”

The majority of coffee from Bella Barista is packaged in simple recyclable coffee pouches that feature a printed label. However, the brand has created a completely unique 300g coffee tin to celebrate the launch of this innovative product. The effective yet simple design showcases a colour palette of blues on a white background, inspired by the British sea.

Custom packaging offers specialty coffee roasters a greater level of customisation by utilising all the available space on a bag to communicate brand identity to potential customers. Specialty coffee often comes with a rich backstory, while transparency and traceability are becoming increasingly important in the coffee sector. 

Today’s third-wave coffee customers want to know who grew the coffee, where it was produced, which variety it is, and how it was processed, among many other important details. Custom print packaging allows you to seamlessly integrate information about your coffee onto the bag in a number of ways. 

At MTPak Coffee, we can customise your coffee packaging to suit your brand and budget. Additionally, we offer a variety of sustainable packaging options made from renewable materials such as kraft paper and rice paper. We also offer coffee bags made from multilayer LDPE packaging with an environmentally friendly PLA lining

Article body images supplied by Bella Barista.

For more information on customising sustainable coffee packaging, contact our team.

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter

Sign up

MTPak recommends