Coffee Tasting: Casa Espresso; India Ratnagiri

Sweet and light, this is a good example of the easy drinking joy that can be found in the balance of honey processed coffees.

Sweet mildly acidic aromatics, followed by a light bodied and fruity initial taste. This coffee settles into a smooth, easy drinking cup. A well thought out and worthwhile drink, it’s an education for anyone interested in the advantages of the honey process, or just a lovely long drinking coffee for a quiet afternoon.

In More Depth

Origin: India, Ratnagiri

Varietal: Catuai & Chandragiri

Growing Altitude: 1,250 – 1,450 MASL

Process: Honey

Tasting Notes: Red Grape, Caramel & Milk Chocolate

The Coffee

India grows a surprising amount of coffee, the climate in some of the country’s regions suiting itself to the very particular needs of the coffee plant. It was the Sufi Saint Baba Budan who brought coffee to the country. On his Haj (the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca) in 1650 he discovered the wonderful taste of coffee and liked it so much that he decided to bring some seeds back to India to grow. At the time it was illegal to take viable seeds from Arabia, but our innovative saint did so by smuggling exactly seven seeds hidden in his beard, on his journey out of the port city of Mocha. Why seven seeds? Well seven is a sacred number in Islam and so his crime was considered a religious one, thus avoiding many complications.

Interestingly these first plantings were on the hills of Chandragiri, hills now known as Baba Budan Giri (the Baba Budan Hills). For many years Indian coffees were something of a hidden gem, often overlooked in a market dominated by South and Central American product. The only exception being the near legendary Monsooned Malabar Coffee from the Malabar coast. But it’s delightful to see that now more and more of the varied coffee output of this fascinating land is being adopted by roasters.

This particular coffee offers a masterclass in the impact of process on flavour. Grown near Ratnagiri in the Maharashtra State of India, on the northern tip of the famed Malabar coast. The combination of Catui and Chandragiri plants are harvested and then prepared for export using the honey process. The technique takes advantage of the intense honey like sweetness of the mucilage of the coffee cherry, a layer of the cherry usually fully removed during processing. Instead of being entirely removed, in honey processing some of this mucilage is left while the beans dry, this imparts a very particular sweetness into the final green bean. One which allows roasters to achieve some excellent profiles, with skill and patience.

In tasting the resulting coffee is one of distinct layers. The first taste is light and emphasises an acidic fruit flavour, this could almost be mistaken for a natural processed coffee. Once the drink settles on your palate though, you find a warm and comforting caramel sweetness, this characteristic is very much the hallmark of honey processed coffees. The balance of these two aspects, fruit acidity and honey sweetness is well judged and makes for a great experience. Throughout the drink a soft milk chocolate background flavour keeps up the warm and relaxing sensation. For me this coffee is all about the gentle balance, a coffee to be enjoyed at leisure, something of a hug in a mug.

The Roaster

Casa Espresso are proud to be Bradford’s first small batch coffee roasters. The team is small, and a passion for what they do is the overwhelming sense that I get from them. Nino di Rienzo loves his company and the UK coffee industry in general, always willing to respond to any enquiry and to support others in all aspects of the industry, he really lives coffee. Casa roast with pride and care on a 5kg probat, using classical techniques and instinct to produce quality and varied flavour profiles. Ethics are high on the priority list, with beans sourced through reputable specialty coffee importers and from sustainable and ethical trade focused farms and cooperatives, you can purchase your coffee with confidence that you are getting access to the very best Nino and his team can source.


Casa Espresso’s Website

About Bear Essentials CoffeeIf you have enjoyed this or any of my writing please check out my Homepage to find out more about me and my work. Follow the blog and if you feel you can, drop a donation to support this project. Thanks, – Bear

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