Farm: Bibi Plantation
Varietal: Red Catucaí (known locally as HDT)
Altitude: 600 to 800 metres above sea level
Owner: Faiz Moosakutty & Family
Town / City: Sunticoppa
Region: Karnataka State
Monsoon Malabar AA (Asia Elephant) - India
Asia Elephant Monsooned Malabar AA, from the Bibi Plantation, is a premium quality Arabica monsooned in the traditional way on the coast in Kerala and Karnataka States. We have been purchasing this coffee from grower Faiz Moosakutty and his family since 1997.
Five hours drive towards the coast from Bangalore lies the small town of Suntikoppa (population of 20,000), among the Coorg Hills of southern India. This is the heart of the coffee growing area in the state of Karnataka and all around lie small- to medium-sized farms. Located at 600-800 metres above sea level in these fertile hills is Faiz Moosakutty’s Bibi Plantation.
The 250 acre plantation has been in the Moosakutty family since 1960 and is named after Faiz’s mother. Faiz took over in 1990 and has since embarked on replanting the entire estate, aiming to create a model coffee farm. This process is now 100% complete and the Bibi Plantation produces some of the region’s finest coffee. Faiz lives on the farm with his wife, Sonia, and two children – Rihan and Tara.
Mercanta’s relationship with Faiz goes back to around the year 2000. Following the liberalisation of India’s coffee industry in the mid-90s, Faiz happened to come across Mercanta’s website while seeking out private sector buyers for his coffee and got in touch with Stephen (Mercanta’s co-founder). The Bibi Plantation has been supplying us ever since and Mercanta is now the sole exporter of Faiz’s coffee. Over the years, Faiz has become not only an important business partner, but also a friend; members of the Mercanta team have visited the plantation several times, and Faiz has spent considerable time with us at our headquarters in London.
As those at Mercanta who have visited the plantation can vouch, Faiz does not cut corners and runs his farm in an environmentally and socially responsible way. The coffee is grown in the shade of indigenous silver oaks, jungle figs and rosewood trees, which provide habitat for a vast array of bird and insect life, and the occasional elephant from the nearby forest! While the estate is not officially certified organic, no chemical weed-killers are used; instead weeds are removed
‘Monsooning’ is a process unique to India, with a lengthy history and producing a distinctive, potent cup. It dates back to coffee farming under British colonial rule, when during the several months that it took to ship green coffee from India to Europe, the humidity and sea winds caused the beans to swell and age. As transport improved and the beans suffered less from the elements en route, European coffee-drinkers noticed that the coffee was losing the character and distinctive, bold flavour they were used to.
So, a new process was devised to replicate the conditions that produced this singular coffee.
To create a ‘monsooned’ crop, natural sun-dried green coffee is stored in open-sided warehouses on the coast, which allow moist tropical air from the monsoon winds to blow through the storage area. Over a 2 to 3 month period, the beans absorb moisture, lose a degree of their natural acidity and swell to around double their original size, becoming brittle and pale. The process starts when the monsoon season begins in June/July and is usually completed by the end of October. The result is an earthy, pungent, low acidity cup, which is often used to add body and weight to fine espresso blends.