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Made In The Shade


Indian Coffee: Made In The Shade
by Barth Anderson

They grow coffee in India?
Ever since my first sip of Indian coffee I have been deeply fond of its incredibly smooth, comforting character and refined sense of balance. After years of working with these beautiful coffees and the people who grow them, I have come to discover the rich and complicated past that has shaped Indian coffee. One of the most surprising things I have learned in the process is that Indian coffees have a history that predates all but the first movement of coffee out of Ethiopia to Yemen.

Thanks to the seed smuggling efforts of the mystic sage Baba Budan who traveled to Arabia in the late 16th Century, India is the third oldest coffee producing origin since coffee’s heirloom roots in Ethiopia moved up through Yemen and eastward. Coffee has been actively cultivated there ever since. Yet I continue to ask myself why are so many people in North America still unfamiliar with Indian coffee?


Beneath the tree canopy at Kalledevarapura Estate, Chikmagalur

Modern day mystics
What I do know is that my introduction to Indian coffee is due to the explorations and innovations of one individual in particular who opened up this door to me in 1996 when I called him on the phone at his California home. I saw an ad in what was at the time just about the only periodical within the coffee trade. It was, and still is, The Tea & Coffee Trade Journal. The small ad at the bottom of the page said something to the effect of “Josuma Coffee — Importers of Specialty Coffee from India”. By the mid 1990’s I had already spent more than a dozen years exploring coffees from around the globe, yet I had never even heard of coffee from India. I just had to make the phone call.

I came to learn that in the early 1990’s, then Nuclear Physicist, Dr. Joseph John, first  connected with Indian coffee growers who were interested in improving the quality of their coffee. As his reputation for working with coffee producers grew, the Indian government eventually reached out to Dr. John to ask if he would help establish India as a world class specialty coffee producer.

Dr. John accepted the request and, in turn, became so captivated with Indian coffee that he left the field of nuclear physics. Together with his keen and charismatic wife, Urmila, they founded the Josuma Coffee Company in San Francisco, CA and began importing coffee from India to the United States in 1992. The samples he sent to me after we spoke on the phone that day marked the beginning of my deep fondness for Indian coffee.


Dr. Joseph John and Mrs. Urmila John

The curious case of coffee cultivation in India
With its long lived history of cultivation on the heels of the Middle Ages, Indian coffee endured a period of tight governmental control from the 1940’s through the early 1990’s. During this time, coffee farmers were fully subsidized by the Indian government for their farming efforts regarding the production of coffee. These subsidies included the development of infrastructure, roads, provision of coffee seedlings, access to processing equipment, fertilizer and more.

While under cultivation, the coffee was the responsibility and property of each farmer. There was a catch, however. The moment the coffee cherry was plucked from the tree, it became the property of the Indian government. Upfront governmental subsidization belied an unsustainable economic cycle which offered no financial return for a coffee farmer’s harvest.

The governmental focus on coffee became based entirely upon increasing coffee volume for export. Coffee from each farm was pooled together and homogenized so that shipping containers could be filled. Coffee quality took a back seat to quantity. In turn, producers had absolutely no incentive to produce quality coffee as they were offered no remuneration in return.

Picking coffee at Kerehuckloo Estate, Chikmagalur

Coffee polyculture
Amidst this profitless cycle, how could coffee farmers make a living farming coffee if their harvest was not actually theirs? Somehow through a combination of intellect and sheer effort, an approach emerged for Indian coffee farmers despite the regulation. It became clear to farmers that crops cultivated alongside coffee could benefit from many of the same subsidies provided for coffee growing. If another product could be harvested along side the coffee, a farmer could have a crop to sell. This simultaneous cultivation of crops in close proximity to one another is the foundation of what agronomists call polyculture. Indian farmers call it sensible. This kind of farming has become the norm throughout India’s coffee lands.

While this diversified approach to growing crops provided a compelling incentive, numerous other challenges of polyculture farming emerged. Not only did farmers have to learn how to cultivate a variety of plants in and around their coffee trees, they also had to provide each plant with their own particular requirements for growth. In addition, they had to figure out how to stagger harvests to accommodate for the labor intensive nature of harvest time.

Learning how to schedule the timing of various harvest cycles is particularly tricky. But when successfully executed, multiple harvests throughout the year help to ensure year round income. This is rare in coffee cultivating cultures. It is more often the case that each years’ coffee harvest must support a farmer for the entire year.

Devon Estate, Mertiparvata (Coffea arabica, Piper sp. vines, Silver Oak, Solanum sp.)

Each of these challenges proved worthy of the struggle for innovation, largely because the harvest of the companion crops belonged to the farmers. Despite governmental ownership of the coffee itself, the most complex, shade grown, polyculture farming system in the world was born.

Managing the shade
Coffee trees grown close to the equator and at high altitudes need too be protected from the sun to survive. Shade is required by a coffee tree to flower and produce fruit. Growing at different altitudes and along different geographic exposures initiated a selective scheme for planting canopy trees for different uses as well as with varying rates of maturity. Fast growing trees like Silver Oak provide a more rapid cycle for the production of wood pulp. Slow growing trees like Teak produce structurally sound wood for the building industry.

Sandalwood trees produce the highly valued, and now incredibly ecologically vulnerable aromatic wood used for ornamental objects and incense. Rubber trees which prefer lower altitude are tapped for their latex. Water loving Areca trees grow well through riverine areas and produce Areca nuts valued for their psychoactive effect. Each of these tree canopies provides a shaded understory within which to cultivate an enormous variety of other crops.

In addition to shade, canopy trees provide a structure on which to grow other kinds of crops. Peppercorn vines are one of the most successful and their cultivation throughout the Indian understory has become another highly valued Indian product.

Open air market, Balehonnur

This understory has also proven to be ideal habitat for growing nutmeg, cinnamon, tea, cardamom, and a bountiful supply of fruits, herbs, seeds, spices, drupes, grains, pepos and countless vegetables and root stocks. Indian farmers cultivate them all. The moment you step into an Indian marketplace, an exotic world of vegetables, fruits and spices reveals itself. While many of these products have grown in India for millennia, it has been through the ingenuity of the Indian coffee farmers that a seemingly unsurmountable challenge posed by a controlling government was turned into a true success. And since the release of governmental control of coffee, coffee too has become a valuable product for each farmer at long last. Coffee quality has been incentivized in no small part due to the efforts and directives of Dr. Joseph John.

Polyculture breeds a healthy ecosystem
This broad diversity of plants is hugely supportive of the avian communities, mammals, marsupials, reptiles and insects that dwell in the strata within and below the canopy. As a living canopy rains down upon the terrestrial ecosystem, the greatest benefits of this system become concentrated in the life of the soil.

Farm owner, Prem Kurian admiring the vibrant soil at Badnekhan Estate, Mertiparvata

The microbes, insects and mycorrhizae that dwell in the dirt break down all of this energy and return the nutrients back to the plants that have fed them. The activity in this soil is so vibrant it smells of life itself. In turn, the overall health of the nutrient cycle in an Indian coffee farm is ensured by the farmer’s commitment to the complex methodology of polyculture.

Modern day climate change and resiliency through polyculture
The requirements of Indian coffee farmers to innovate to unlock the intricacies of their farms’ microclimates have been of critical importance to their success. Historically the challenges farmers faced fell largely upon their capacity to coordinate, manage and harvest each crop. Today as we face new environmental challenges which appear to be the norm in the 21st century, the conversation among Indian coffee farmers is more often centered around the very measurable effects of global climate change and how climate change affects the nature of arable lands. The steady increase of mean global temperature and the extremes around that mean have already had a profound impact on where coffee can and can’t grow. Moving crops higher and higher to avoid increasing temperatures has its own limitations; the ancient mountains in Indian coffee territory top out at just over 4000’. On many farms, they are already growing at their highest altitudes.

The intensity of recent global storm events presents yet another set of challenges from furious wind storms and flooding to periods of incessant heat and no rain. The frequency and ferocity of these storm events exceed those in all recorded history. The fact that these events are highly unpredictable and continue to be on the move only compounds the situation.

Despite the perpetual struggles that every individual involved in agriculture must face, Indian coffee farmers have protected themselves by engineering ecological resiliency into their farming methods. For a century and a half, their global commerce based farming systems have become more and more based upon biodiversity, soil health, and the synergistic relationships between a multitude of organisms living together in a managed natural environment. It is these biologically diverse farming systems that provide the most resilient environments in the face of climate change.

Oddly enough, after all of the effort spent managing nature, Indian farms have come to emulate what was once a native jungle ecosystem. The difference is that this jungle has been designed by the farmers themselves.

I now understand that what I experienced in my first sip of Indian coffee is deeply rooted in an intricate web of relationships between farmers, the living earth and the complex cultural history of India. Ingredients that have come together in an ever changing world to make an incredibly beautiful cup of coffee.


Made In The Shade2018-01-08T12:13:28-04:00

BCRC goes to Harvard


BCRC’s Barth Anderson will speak at this Harvard University event on October 13th. Register early before it fills up!

Coffee & Chocolate: Climate Change, Sustainability, and Gender Equity

BCRC goes to Harvard2018-01-08T11:53:56-04:00

11 Best Coffee Cities (And Can’t-Miss Coffee Shops) In America


With coffee consumption at an all-time high in the United States, we’ve rounded up 11 of the best coffee cities in the country worth visiting.

America’s Best Coffee Cities

From the historic streets of downtown Boston to the coastal neighborhoods of Santa Cruz, we’ve highlighted 11 of the best coffee cities well-known for their caffeinated brews. Each of these places boasts gourmet coffee shops on almost every corner, making it an impossible task to mention all of them. But we’ve featured our favorite in each city so you can sip more and search less! Whether you’re looking for coffee by the cup or beans by the bag, we think you’ll like these cities a whole latte.

After you decide which destination to visit, opt for a vacation rental from FlipKey to save money during your trip (we know how quickly those specialty coffees can add up!). Enjoy the benefits of extra space and full kitchens—many rentals even have coffeemakers, so you won’t have to leave the house without a cup of coffee to start your day. From modern city apartments to spacious vacation homes, FlipKey offers a variety of rentals to fit every budget and travel style.

Austin, Texas | Caffé Medici

While you’d think that Austin’s roasting temperatures might curb visitors’ appetite for java, Austin’s coffee scene is booming. And, as new coffee shops are popping up all over town, one continues to stand out: Caffé Medici. Austin’s original specialty coffee shop, Caffé Medici has been perfecting the art of pouring a cup of joe for more than 10 years. From well-balanced, classic coffee to sweet and fruity espresso with a chocolaty finish, the menu here has something to please all palates.

See all Austin rentals on FlipKey!

Boston, Massachusetts | Barrington Coffee Roasting Company

With long, cold winters and a massive student population, Boston is a city that insists on high levels of coffee consumption. While there are plenty of places throughout the city to fuel up for the day, Barrington Coffee Roasting Company offers some of the best in Boston. It was founded in 1993 out of two friends’ mutual love for everything coffee. Today, the self-described “power-coffee duo” prepares some of the finest coffees from around the world at their Roastery in Lee, MA. The coffee is then delivered fresh to customers and served at their two cafes in downtown Boston.

See all Boston rentals on FlipKey!

Minneapolis, Minnesota | Spyhouse Coffee


Known for a different kind of brew, too, Minneapolis is happy to share its local coffees all across the country. Case in point: Spyhouse Coffee Roasting Co., which supplies its Orion blend to Caffé Medici on our list. With four cafes throughout Minneapolis, Spyhouse Coffee is a hub for students, professionals, and people of all walks of life. This independent coffeehouse serves an exceptional cup of coffee while educating customers about the sourcing, roasting, and brewing processes, from origin to consumption. Looking for something unique? Try the Spygirl, a latte with lavender and honey.

See all Minneapolis rentals on FlipKey!

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania | Joe Coffee


Philadelphia gets coffee fanatics’ stamp of approval—even Ben Franklin’s, a known coffee enthusiast and one of the city’s founding fathers. For some of the city’s finest brews, check out Joe Coffee, a family-owned shop with locations in Philadelphia and New York. The shop has both single-origin and blended offerings on the menu, which they roast in-house. Whether you take your cup on the go or lounge at the cafe, a flawless brew from Joe Coffee will perk you right up.

See all Philadelphia rentals on FlipKey!

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania | Commonplace Coffee Roasters

Looking to try the local java in Pittsburgh? Then head to Commonplace Coffee Roasters in Pittsburgh. Since its founding in 2003, multiple locations have opened throughout Steel City, all of which offer a “hug in a mug” with their flavorful brews. Get a boost of energy from a cappuccino or indulge your sweet tooth with a chocolaty mocha. You can’t go wrong, no matter what you order!

See all Pittsburgh rentals on FlipKey!

Portland, Maine | Coffee By Design


A foodie city in its own right, Portland is also a hub for coffee drinkers with Coffee By Design adding buzz to this coastal destination’s downtown. This combined micro-roastery and coffee bar brews a selection of coffees from exotic grinds, single-origin coffees, and rich roasts. With the smell of freshly brewed coffee wafting in the air, you won’t be able to walk by without stopping in for some liquid joy in a cup.

See all Portland rentals on FlipKey!

Providence, Rhode Island | Bolt Coffee Company


With sweet “coffee milk” the state drink of Rhode Island, it’s no surprise that Providence makes the cut as one of the best coffee cities in the U.S. Get a quality cup of coffee—hot oriced—at Bolt Coffee Company in the heart of Providence’s historic district. This local purveyor of artisanal coffee expertly pours a precise and intense cup of coffee with each order. From unique carbonated coffees to double shots of espresso, the baristas here take great pride in their product and service, and it shows!

See all Providence rentals on FlipKey!

Santa Cruz, California | Verve Coffee Roasters


Santa Cruz made our list of the best coffee cities in America because of one-of-a-kind roasters like Verve. Whether you’re starting your day, searching for an afternoon pick-me-up, or need a caffeine fix before tackling the surf, this hot spot has something for everyone. While the shop’s roots remain in Santa Cruz, Verve can be found in cities across the world from Los Angeles to Tokyo. Can’t make it to one of those cities, but want to wake up to Verve coffee aromas every morning? Subscribe and have freshly roasted coffee delivered to your door!

See all Santa Cruz rentals on FlipKey!

Seattle, Washington | Convoy Coffee


What’s a list of the best coffee cities in America without Seattle? Home of the original Starbucks, there are also a multitude of lesser-known local coffee shops throughout the city. One such favorite is Convoy Coffee. For the perfect start to your morning, stop in for an espresso and a Salmonberry Goods pastry. Heading to Seattle for a weekend getaway? You won’t want to miss the weekend Ballard and University District Farmers Markets, where Convoy Coffee sets up a shop with bicycle carts. With its ever-growing rotation of single origin coffees, we recommend visiting often to try them all!

See all Seattle rentals on FlipKey!

Topeka, Kansas | PT’s Coffee Roasting Co.


Home of PT’s Coffee Roasting Co.—the standard-bearer for small-batch specialty coffee—Topeka holds its own among the best coffee cities in the country. This local coffee shop’s mission is simple: roast and brew an amazing cup of coffee from the freshest of ingredients. It specializes in serving Direct Trade coffee and espresso, but its diverse menu features options that will satisfy all tastes. From an afternoon meeting over lattes to an evening study break for coffee with Baileys, PT’s Coffee Roasting Co. is a must-visit in Topeka.

See all Topeka rentals on FlipKey!

Washington, DC | Peregrine Espresso


Washington, DC’s coffee culture continues to expand year after year. The city has more than 1,000 coffee shops and cafes—meaning a jolt of caffeine is never out of reach. One such spot with rave reviews is Peregrine Espresso, a neighborhood cafe that prides itself on offering quality coffee with friendly service. Whether you’re in the mood for a sweet mocha with a dollop of whipped cream or a bold, flash-brewed iced coffee, you can bet Peregrine Espresso has it on the menu. Want to learn about what’s in your cup? The owners—Ryan and Jill Jensen—also love sharing their coffee knowledge with customers through monthly classes about coffee brewing and espresso.

See all Washington, DC rentals on FlipKey!

11 Best Coffee Cities (And Can’t-Miss Coffee Shops) In America2019-01-11T11:03:58-04:00

From seed to cart: fifth-generation entrepreneur puts Karnataka coffee on the world map


Published on YOURSTORY.COM September 2017

With coffee gaining widespread acceptance across India, Classic Group is experimenting to create offerings that appeal to the Indian palate.

Legend has it that centuries ago, a Sufi Saint – Baba Budan – planted seven coffee beans in the hills of Chikmagalur, introducing coffee to India.

Now called Baba Budan Giri Hills, the birthplace of Indian coffee is where 150-year-old Classic Group grows its coffee brand. Apart from coffee, the group also has dealings in real estate, hospitality, retail and distribution. But they want the world to wake up and smell the coffee!

For about 25 years now, the Classic Group has been exporting coffee beans around the world to micro roasteries, bigger roasteries and cafes,  roasting them according to their clients’ needs. Over the last few months, the group’s horizons have widened.

India may still be a nation of tea lovers, but the popularity enjoyed by Gloria Jean’s and Starbucks shows that at least the younger generation is warming up to the bitter sweetness of coffee. In a tête-à-tête with YourStory, Tapaswini Purnesh, 30, a fifth-generation entrepreneur from the Classic family, speaks about how she combines culinary knowledge and understanding of flavour patterns with her expertise in brewing techniques to craft coffee that appeals to the Indian palate.

A mechanical engineer and diploma holder from Le Cordon Bleu, Paris, the most prestigious culinary school in the world, Tapaswini is now Director of Marketing and Promotions at Classic Coffees.

Changing consumer behaviour

Europeans end every meal with coffee, but in India, coffee is yet to gain that scale of popularity. In South India, coffee still refers to filter coffee. Chains like Café Coffee Day have succeeded in popularising Western tastes like Cappuccino and Espresso. Yet, there was no deep knowledge on pure coffee; chicory coffee was the norm and most youngsters didn’t drink a lot of coffee.

Around 2010, Tapaswini had started a café next to Orion Mall, in Bengaluru, as a micro roastery.

“We were roasting coffee and selling it fresh. But it was too early for the concept. The coffee culture was yet to grow here,” she recollects.

Things, she says, have changed in the last eight years.

“Now a lot more micro roasteries are opening up. Youngsters who travel abroad for work or study are familiar with pour-over coffee and nitro coffee. Coffee is super cool and hip. We are targeting that audience,” she tells YourStory. She adds that although Classic Coffee’s target is the 30-45 age group, people who are 60 years old and above are also open to experiments in coffee these days.

Creating excitement around coffee

India is the sixth largest producer and fifth largest exporter of coffee in the world. In fact, according to IBEF data, about 70 percent of coffee produced in the country is exported. Varieties like Bru’s different African flavours and Nestle’s instant cappuccino mixes have reached the masses in India over the last few years.On the branded side, as opposed to the traditional one, Cafe Coffee Day and Starbucks have made a mark too. But Classic Coffees aims to get people to drink more coffee every day, and “in a more exciting fashion”.

About eight years ago, India’s most famous coffee connoisseur Sunalini Menon did two coffee blends for Classic Coffees. It started off as a pet project as Tapaswini wanted Indian coffee lovers to enjoy coffee of export quality. Her next strategy was to come up with coffee for different times of the day. In May 2017, Classic Coffees launched four new blends with pure Arabica beans. Interestingly, they were named after the times of the day they were meant to be consumed – Blaze in the morning, Matinee for afternoons, Sundowner in the evening, and Afterhours after dinner. Each 250gm packet was priced at Rs 300.

But do Indians drink coffee late night? Tapaswini says this is where she found a surprising change in consumer behaviour.

“AfterHours is not decaf, it is not mixed with any flavours. While the others are extremely smooth and fruity, this is more like a dessert. It has maximum movement as people are intrigued by the concept,” she says, adding that north Indians warmed up to them more easily as they don’t have any preconceived notions of coffee.

Science behind the coffee

The Classic Coffees comes from an ancestral estate in Sakleshpur, where they also grow Robusta. In Baba Budan Giri, the altitude and weather conditions are just right for Arabica.

The wisdom behind each kind of coffee is deep. For instance, instant coffee comprises broken bean (all neighbourhood roasters use it), but Classic offers only filter coffee.

Tapaswini believes that the same coffee brewed in different equipment will have different flavours.

She says, “We have Indian filter, French press, aero press etc. For the four blends, we recommend the best equipment for each on the cover itself. We also mention the flavour, and whether it is best had with milk or not.”

Tapaswini conducts coffee-tasting sessions with accompaniments such as lemon tarts, cheese, apple slices and other goodies to ensure coffee drinkers derive complete enjoyment of the flavour.

Taking the name overseas

Synergy coffee is exported – but not in packaged form – to the US, Europe, Korea, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand among other countries.

Tapaswini travels a lot for festivals of international bodies like Specialty Coffee Association, and attends events by coffee associations in the US and Europe. Micro roasteries and equipment manufacturers from across the world participate in these events.

“We are not just a brand like you see in stores. We are one of the few who do seed-to-cart. We grow it from sapling, pick and pack. Except the roasting bit, which we outsource, we do everything including processing after plucking. We do small batches for sellers if they want it customised, say fermented in milk. But it will all be sold under our name,” Tapaswini says.

Classic Coffees also has international blends such as Kenyan and Ethiopian through partners in those countries.

Currently, Classic Coffees is sold on online platforms such as BigBasket, and offline stores, including Westside Gourmet, Namdhari, and Nature’s Basket, and at airports in Delhi and Bengaluru. The company gets monthly orders of about one tonne now, and is targeting 8-10 tonnes by March 2018.

Classic Coffees has more surprises coming up for coffee lovers – a combination of alcohol and coffee is one of them. And the coffee and tea market, estimated to be worth Rs 41,800 crore, has plenty of space for more flavours and more players.

In fact, while FMCG brands and coffee market leaders like Nescafe have shown no keenness to promote premium coffee in the country, quite a few startups have exploited the opportunity – Bonhomia, which sells capsules for coffee machines, and Blue Tokai, which has branded itself through premium restaurants and cafes.

Another prominent player, Flying Squirrel, which aims to transform coffee into an artisinal food item, offers seven variants, but does not sell offline as they want to deliver coffee beans that are freshly roasted after an order is placed. Indian Bean and Seven Beans are also competing in the same space.

It looks like coffee lovers have found their cup of paradise on earth, thanks to a new generation of entrepreneurs who think outside the box.

From seed to cart: fifth-generation entrepreneur puts Karnataka coffee on the world map2019-02-27T15:09:40-04:00

The Coffee Lover’s Diet!


We are proud to be featured throughout Dr. Bob Arnot’s latest ground breaking book The Coffee Lover’s Diet. His thesis is that carefully cultivated, high grown, light roast coffees have the most dramatic impact on human metabolic and cerebral function. Our coffees score among the highest tested in his extensive research.

The Coffee Lover’s Diet!2017-06-19T14:19:16-04:00

Aricha Receives 94 Points!


We received a 94 point score for this coffee in April of 2017 from Coffee Review!

Blind Assessment:

Deeply and richly sweet, spice-toned. Violet, baker’s chocolate, star anise, butterscotch, fresh-cut cedar in aroma and cup. Balanced, fruit-toned acidity; syrupy-smooth mouthfeel. The resonant finish extends all the flavor notes of the cup in the short, and consolidates to baker’s chocolate with suggestions of cedar and star anise in the long.


Produced at Kebel Aricha Mill by Surafel Birhanu, who works with more than 700 family farms. Yirgacheffe is a coffee region in southern Ethiopia that produces distinctive coffees from traditional varieties of Arabica long grown in the region. This is a “natural” or dry-processed version, meaning the beans were dried inside the fruit, encouraging a flavor profile that is less predictable and deeper than the more familiar wet-processed floral- and citrus-toned Yirgacheffe profile. Like virtually all southern Ethiopia coffees, this coffee is produced by villagers on small, garden plots interplanted with food and other subsistence crops.Barrington Coffee is an artisan roaster dedicated to elite coffees, fresh delivery and roasting that foregrounds the coffee and not the roast. Visit or call 800-528-0998 for more information.

The Bottom Line: A very cleanly expressed dried-in-the-fruit Yirgacheffe cup, richly spice-toned with deeply sweet floral notes.

Aricha Receives 94 Points!2017-04-04T14:38:25-04:00

Ntrambo Receives 93 Points!


We received a 93 point score for this coffee in November of 2016 from Coffee Review!

Blind Assessment:

Delicate, sweetly savory. Spicy, freesia-like flowers, baker’s chocolate, pink grapefruit zest, sandalwood in aroma and small cup. Crisply sweet-tart acidity; plush, velvety mouthfeel. The finish consolidates to an intriguing combination of pink grapefruit zest and rich, aromatic sandalwood.


Produced by Jean-Clement Birabereye entirely from trees of the Bourbon variety of Arabica. Processed by the wet or “washed” method, in which skin and fruit flesh are removed from the beans or seeds before they are dried. Burundi is a small, landlocked country in the Great Lakes region of Central Africa. Most coffee is grown in the mountains of the north, bordering Rwanda. Benefiting from ideal growing conditions and large plantings of local strains of the heirloom Bourbon variety of Arabica, Burundi coffee has an excellent reputation, though it is better known in Europe than in the United States. Barrington Coffee is an artisan roaster dedicated to elite coffees, fresh delivery and roasting that foregrounds the coffee and not the roast. Visit or call 800-528-0998 for more information.

The Bottom Line: An enticingly unusual coffee in general, but a classic in the Burundi sense: crisp, simultaneously sweet and savory-tart, as well as high-toned.

Ntrambo Receives 93 Points!2017-04-04T14:35:29-04:00

Gathugu Receives 95 Points!



We received a 95 point score for this coffee in November of 2016 from Coffee Review!

Blind Assessment:

Intensely sweet and savory, exotic. Passionfruit, frankincense, grapefruit zest, rose, roasted cacao nib in aroma and cup. Bright, lyrical acidity; plush, syrupy mouthfeel. The rich, long, cocoa-toned finish is flavor-saturated, all the notes from the cup persisting, passionfruit and grapefruit zest in particular.


Produced by the Mugaga Farmers’ Cooperative Society from trees of the SL-28 and SL-34 varieties of Arabica. Despite challenges ranging from unclear government coffee policy and urban encroachment on prime coffee lands to chronically unstable weather, the famed Kenya coffee auction system and its participating cooperatives continue to produce some of the world’s most elegant and distinctive coffee. Barrington Coffee is an artisan roaster dedicated to elite coffees, fresh delivery and roasting that foregrounds the coffee and not the roast. Visit or call 800-528-0998 for more information.

The Bottom Line: A compelling classic Kenya coffee, perfectly suspended between sweet and savory, sweetly tart yet deeply rich.

Gathugu Receives 95 Points!2016-11-07T14:42:36-04:00

Gisuma Receives 93 Points!



We received a 93 point score for this coffee in August of 2016 from Coffee Review!

Blind Assessment:

Deeply sweet, with spice undertones. Vanilla, cocoa powder, rosemary flower, gardenia, ripe pear in aroma and cup. Juicy, rich acidity; delicate, silky mouthfeel. The crisp, gently drying finish is cocoa-toned and redolent of vanilla.


Produced entirely from trees of the heirloom Bourbon variety of Arabica by the Gisuma Cooperative, situated close to Lake Kivu and the Rusizi River. This is a wet-processed or “washed” coffee, meaning the fruit skin and pulp were removed from the beans immediately after harvesting and before drying. Rwanda’s impressive potential as fine coffee producer has come to fruition over the past decade owing to the industry of its growers, generous support from international aid agencies and the commitment of North American specialty coffee roasters. Barrington Coffee is an artisan roaster dedicated to elite coffees, fresh delivery and roasting that foregrounds the coffee and not the roast. Visit or call 800-528-0998 for more information.

The Bottom Line: A crisp, sweet Rwanda cup with appealing spicy-floral intrigue.

Gisuma Receives 93 Points!2016-10-25T13:04:45-04:00

Cachajinas Receives 94 Points!



We received a 94 point score for this coffee in June of 2016 from Coffee Review!

Blind Assessment:

Deeply sweet, intricately rich. Jasmine, date, pistachio, blood orange zest, coconut in aroma and cup. Delicate, sweetly tart acidity; liltingly satiny mouthfeel. The resonant, long finish is saturated with deep, continued notes of date, pistachio and coconut.


Produced by Juan Simón Velásquez from the Caturra and Bourbon varieties of Arabica. This is a wet-processed or “washed” coffee, meaning the fruit skin and pulp were removed from the beans immediately after harvesting and before drying. Barrington Coffee is an artisan roaster dedicated to elite coffees, fresh delivery and roasting that foregrounds the coffee and not the roast. Visit or call 800-528-0998 for more information.

The Bottom Line: A fine Guatemala cup: elegant, exotic, delicately but confidently composed.

See the full review on Coffee Review.

Cachajinas Receives 94 Points!2016-10-25T13:04:45-04:00

Vista al Bosque Receives 92 Points!



We received a 92 point score for this coffee in March of 2016 from Coffee Review!

Blind Assessment:

Deeply and richly sweet. Honeysuckle, baker’s chocolate, papaya, roasted cacao nib, caramel in aroma and cup. Fruit-toned, balanced acidity; lightly syrupy mouthfeel. Richly drying, flavor-saturated finish: honeysuckle in the short, chocolate tones in the long.


Produced by Wilmar Castillo from trees of the Bourbon, Caturra and Catimor varieties of Arabica. Barrington Coffee is an artisan roaster dedicated to elite coffees, fresh delivery and roasting that foregrounds the coffee and not the roast. Visit or call 800-528-0998 for more information.

The Bottom Line: A flavor-saturated, floral- and chocolate-toned Guatemala cup.

See the full review on Coffee Review.

Vista al Bosque Receives 92 Points!2016-10-25T13:04:45-04:00

Hambela Receives 96 Points!



We received a 96 point score for this coffee in March of 2016 from Coffee Review!

Blind Assessment:

Delicately sweet and intricately composed. Black currant, dried jasmine, frankincense, cocoa butter, candied ginseng in aroma and cup. Buoyant, juicy acidity; luxuriously silky mouthfeel. Black currant and cocoa butter in the rich, elegant short finish, candied ginseng in the sweet, resonant long.


Southern Ethiopia produces distinctive coffees from traditional varieties of Arabica long grown in the region. This lot was processed by the wet or washed method (fruit skin and pulp are removed before drying). Southern Ethiopia coffees processed with this method typically express great aromatic complexity and intensity, with a particular emphasis on floral notes. Barrington Coffee is an artisan roaster dedicated to elite coffees, fresh delivery and roasting that foregrounds the coffee and not the roast. Visit or call 800-528-0998 for more information.

The Bottom Line: An exceptional value in an elegant, powerfully expressive washed Ethiopia cup.

See the full review on Coffee Review.

Hambela Receives 96 Points!2016-10-25T13:04:46-04:00

Monsooned Malabar


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Monsooned Malabar coffee is a Geographical Identification Certified Product (GI Certified) that is unique to the South-West shore of India called the Malabar Coast. Monsooning is a processing method in which green coffee is exposed to the high humidity conditions present during the monsoon season. Throughout this process, the coffee undergoes complex changes and new aromas and flavors are unveiled. The highest grade is Monsooned Malabar – AA Super Grade produced at Aspinwall Coffee in Mangalore. This refined degree of processing is the brainchild of once nuclear physicist, now green coffee importer Dr. Joseph John of Josuma Coffee.  Aspinwall has been processing green coffee since 1867. The AA Super Grade was first realized through Dr. John’s direction in 2000 and was given its formal name in 2001. The resultant cup is supremely smooth with qualities of sandalwood, dark chocolate and nut. Monsooned Malabar boasts the lowest acidity of any coffee.

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Inside the gates of Aspinwall Coffee, the monsooning process begins by sorting and selecting AA grade coffee cherry which is spread out on concrete patios and sun dried. The coffee is then hulled, sorted and stored until the onset of the monsoon season. When the monsoon hits from June through September, the beans are spread out beneath tile roofed, open walled structures where they are raked at regular intervals. When exposed to the high atmospheric humidity, the beans absorb the moisture and expand. In this vintage photograph of the drying yard at Aspinwall, you can see coffee being raked out to sun dry prior to monsooning.

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The monsooning process was first developed in the mid 20th century as a way to emulate the organoleptic effects of transporting coffee in the hold of a wooden ship. This “natural” monsooning process which was once commonplace, was effectively eradicated when steel hulled cargo ships became ubiquitous in the early 1900’s.

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After hulling, the beans are mechanically sorted by a high tech Spectrum Color Analyzer. Once the monsooning process is complete, they are subjected yet again to mechanical sorting. During this second stage of sorting forty to fifty percent of the monsooned beans are rejected. After the mechanical sorting is complete the beans are hand sorted numerous times, or “garbeled” as it is called, to achieve the AA Super Grade.

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The beans are vigilantly raked and turned over many days. During this phase the beans are absorbing monsoon moisture. They are then bagged and stacked in windrows at which point the beans swell. The spreading, sorting and re-bagging is repeated up to three times until the coffee beans acquire a golden hue and a moisture content of 14.5%.

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Here the final product is being bagged for export. The entire process comprises many months of careful attention. Monsooning is the most time and labor intensive coffee processing method in the world.

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K.D. Thimmaiah, Aspinwall General Manager, simultaneously looks to the past and the future. On the garbeling board for this day, December 17, 2015, is our lot of Josuma Monsooned Malabar AA Super.

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Melind (left) and Urmila John, represent Josuma Coffee Company (Menlo Park, CA). Urmila’s husband, Dr. Joseph John, introduced us to Indian coffee in the mid 90’s. Tushara U. (center) is Aspinwall’s Assistant Manager of Quality Assurance.

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Tushara is responsible for evaluating coffee quality before, during and after the monsooning process. She keeps the Aspinwall coffee lab in perfect order, representative of her refined sense of good taste.

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The result? Perfectly monsooned coffee from the Malabar Coast of India. Its flavor is as unique as is its elaborate process to creation. We hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

Monsooned Malabar2016-10-25T13:04:46-04:00

Flavor Navigator


We’re excited to share with you the latest addition to our website—our Barrington Coffee Flavor Navigator.

Now when you go to learn about a coffee, in addition to its written description you will see a unique graphic diagram that describes its aromatic and taste characteristics. We hope that this will provide an easy to use visual guide that will enrich the way we communicate with you about our offerings.

Here we have two Flavor Navigators, one for our Barrington Gold and our Kochere(Ethiopia):

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Through side by side comparison we can understand how coffees share similarities and how they differ.

The Gold is chocolaty, spicy and nutty. The Kochere is floral, fruity and herbaceous. The Flavor Navigator suggests that these coffees are in direct contrast with one another. We understand that they offer radically different experiences in the cup and that they appeal to very different tastes.

In this example we compare our (413) with our Kalledeverapura (India)

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Notice how these coffees appear very similar, with each expressing qualities of nut, chocolate and caramel. While these two coffees still offer their own distinct experiences, they share a lot in terms of overall characteristics. We would suggest that they appeal to similar palates.

Whether you are looking to try something similar to what you already know you like, or you are curious to mix things up with a little change, we hope our Flavor Navigator will help to guide you along your way!

Flavor Navigator2016-10-25T13:04:46-04:00

We’re Compostable!


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After literally decades of searching, we are super excited to introduce our new 100% compostable retail bags.

These bags have a soft organic feel and they offer a fully hermetic seal for the freshest coffee possible. The block bottom allows the bags to stand up proudly on a counter or shelf. This innovative material is constructed out of Biotre® Film, created by Pacific Bag and is certified to OK Compost’s Home Composting Standard and to ASTM International standards for commercial compostability. 

When we founded Barrington Coffee in 1993, we have always sought to identify the most exciting coffees on the planet, grown by farmers who use environmentally sustainable methods for cultivation. At long last we are able to bring our coffee sourcing philosophy in line with our packaging.

We’re Compostable!2016-10-25T13:04:46-04:00

Juliette Receives 93 Points!



We received a 93 point score for this coffee in November of 2015 from Coffee Review!

Blind Assessment:

Delicate, floral, intricate. Rose, Brazil nut, sweetly pungent frankincense and liquorice bark in aroma and cup. Soft, richly composed acidity; velvety, plump mouthfeel. Crisply drying, nutty, long finish.


Produced from trees of the rare Ethiopia-derived botanical variety Gesha (also spelled Geisha). With its elegantly elongated beans and distinctive floral and crisp, often chocolaty cup, the Gesha variety continues to distinguish itself as one of the world’s most unique coffees. Processed by the pulped natural or “honey” method, in which the skin is removed from the coffee fruit immediately after picking, but the seeds or beans are dried with all or part of the sweet pulp, or fruit flesh, still adhering to them. This particular Gesha is produced on the Ninety Plus Gesha Estates. Barrington Coffee is an artisan roaster dedicated to elite coffees, fresh delivery and roasting that foregrounds the coffee and not the roast. Visit or call 800-528-0998 for more information.

Who Should Drink It: Those who are intrigued by a delicately intense floral and nutty cup with fine structure and intricate aromatics.

See the full review on Coffee Review.

Juliette Receives 93 Points!2016-10-25T13:04:46-04:00

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