This week, in the final installment of this series, we look at the more miscellaneous processes: Monsoon Malabar and Giling Basah (wet-hulled) — both encountered in Southern Asia (India and Indonesia).
Monsoon Malabar Process. The monsoon "process" happened first by accident a few hundred years ago on clipper ships that carried green coffee from India to Europe during monsoon season. The voyage exposed the green coffee beans to extreme moisture and winds. Now, the process is recreated to mirror that journey, with the cherries being laid at the port of Malabar, India for three to four months during monsoon season, exposing the green beans to the same extreme winds, moisture and rain.
The Result. Immediately you will notice that the term "green coffee" doesn't really apply to monsooned beans. Instead, monsoon process beans are very pale and almost yellow (see photo above), and the beans are more brittle and much larger than most green coffee. (If you've wondered why our India Monsoon Malabar comes in 4lb bags instead of 5, this is why).
Due to high amounts of moisture that these beans absorb at the port, the coffee produces a cup with very low acidity and an almost neutral pH. What's left is a very mild, yet wildly aromatic coffee that makes for a really great espresso or espresso blend component. You may recall that espresso brewing creates very concentrated coffee, so coffees with lower acidity tend to be very conducive for espresso.
Giling Basah / Wet Hulled. Giling Basah (meaning "wet hulling") is a technique used by Indonesian coffee farmers. Things start similar to the washed process, where the fruit is pulped at harvest and left to ferment in containers/tanks overnight as the fruit mucilage breaks down before being washed off after a day.
Instead of drying the beans for several weeks until they reach 10-12% moisture content, the Giling Basah process is "dried" for no more than a few days to 25-50% moisture content, then the parchment is milled off (wet hulling). This process produces massive time savings and has a positive financial impact on the farmers, but in no way diminishes the quality of the beans or suggests we should dismiss them as a result.
The Result. This processing method gives these Indonesian coffees (most commonly from Sumatra) their signature deep, blue-green — almost emerald — color. Typically, these coffees have lower acidity and rich body, with the best of them exhibiting clean mouthfeel with complex fruit notes and depth. Our wet hulled Sumatra Tano Batak has vibrant notes of pineapple, which soften into richer tones of scented tobacco and earthiness — clean and syrupy.
Legacy. As we've noted before, most processing methods have a deep history in the regions they are most popular, and that history usually includes cultural, economic, and environmental factors. Those factors inform a rich heritage that imparts very real flavor and story into the brews we enjoy.