Screen Shot 002

Cauvery Peak Estate

Owing to their northern tropical latitude and the tempering influence of the Arabian Ocean, the Western slopes of Southern India’s Western Ghat Mountains supply near-ideal coffee-growing conditions to the region centered in Karnakata (formerly Mysore) state. These conditions are mineral-rich volcanic soils, mountain altitudes, adequate moisture throughout the growing season, and a temperate climate.

Time is also an indispensable element in producing fine coffees. The coffee tree in nature grows in the shade of taller trees, which slows fruition. The coolness and thinner atmosphere at altitudes above 3,000’ helps to retard ripening. A long growing season allows the coffee cherry to mature slowly, developing richer taste in its pulpy seed. By contrast, in places with less favorable climate or topography more sun-tolerant hybrids are planted for faster growth and higher yields. The trade-off for these production shortcuts is coffee characterized by harsher or insipid taste.

indiaOur coffee of the month is produced from the arabica species in the traditional unhurried manner high in the shaded rainforest. Skillful hand pickers harvest each bean individually at the peak of ripeness. Like all fine coffees from humid climates, the fleshy pulp is washed off the seeds immediately after harvesting to aid drying and to prevent mildew. The huge (screen #19 and larger) beans are atypically flatter and more oval, dark green with a faintly blue cast. Some believe after so many years on the subcontinent it has evolved and adapted into a unique subspecies. This may explain its distinctive flavor.

india_southThe marketing name “Mysore Nuggets” was coined to introduce Americans to a flagship preparation of the premium beans produced in the three coffee growing states of Southern India. Quantities of generic Nuggets are limited and are shipped mainly from January to April. Numerous requests from true devotees however encouraged us to continue the search. After tasting this estate grown example from an expert who deals exclusively in coffees from Southern India, we were eager to offer it as coffee of the month.

As with wine, coffee grown on a single estate attests to the grower’s committment to control all factors in production. Cauvery Peak Estate is reminiscent of the Mysore Nuggets we first roasted and offered in 1993: Large, luscious beans that when roasted and brewed yield a heavy-bodied, deeply colored coffee liquor.

We give this unique coffee a light cinnamon roasting – just enough to develop but not obscure its spicy character. Submerged within the powerful initial impact, the complexity of Cauvery Peak Estate may not be noticeable in the first sip or two. The pepper-like seasoning and personality continues to emerge and develop as you drink. As you do, these savory nuggets burst like goosebumps on the creamy, full-bodied liquor to delight the senses.