Region: South Asia

An overview of South Asian Coffee Regions

South Asia includes India and Southeast Asia including Indonesia, Vietnam, China, Thailand and other emerging coffee producers. For our purposes, India is in a different category than the rest of Southeast Asia.

Southeast Asia, especially Vietnam, is rapidly becoming a large volume producer of coffee, but not much of it approaches specialty grade. (There are a few exceptions, but they are still rare.) For example, southwest China, Yunnan province, has everything for growing good arabica coffee except experience, and that is changing as the Chinese middle class discovers cafe’ culture. These regions seem to be majoring in producing robusta and Indonesian-style Typica hybrids for the espresso shops of the West.

India has been producing high-quality arabica coffee for over 300 years in the Mysore (Chikmagalur) region, but it has been largely eclipsed by the fine teas for which it is famous. Much of the top quality Indian arabica coffee is sold to markets outside the USA. From time to time, NanoRoast may be able to offer some high-quality Indian coffee to our customers. Indian coffee is mild and balanced, but it often has a spicy or peppery note from the nearby plantations of pepper cherries and spices. In general, Indian coffee has big body and a bit of rustic interest that is similar to Indonesians. Some of that affinity comes from the Typica cultivar varieties that are predominant in both regional areas. It’s low acidity and heavy body make it a good candidate for espresso. There is also a “monsooned” version of Indian coffee, where beans are allowed to gain a rather strong, wild and slightly funky flavor profile from being aged in the humid monsoon conditions. It’s not for everyone, but if you want something wild and exotic, try it. Email us for more information: nano.roast@gmail.com.

Most Asian coffees sold today are some variety of Typica or cross with coffea robusta. While Typica is grown in many other places in the world, the traditional processing method, gilleng basah (wet-hulled) produces rustic, complex, sometimes herbal coffee that lends itself to dark-roast espresso. Some common descriptors include:

heavy body

rustic

savory

dark chocolate

low-acid

complex or muddled flavors

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