Karnataka is a state in India, and the name of the group who sourced this coffee for us. They work with a fairly large group of plantation farmers throughout different counties within Karnataka, and this lot represents mostly coffees from the city of Chikmagalur. Chickmagalur sits at the foothills of Mullayanagiri range, probably the most famous coffee region in India. The Karnataka folks used to just buy from one growing group, but have since cast a much wider net, where some of the value is in their ability to increase selection, and putting together from this more premium blends. This is a PB selection, so around 15 screen bean size, and gets a second sort during milling. About 70% of the coffee grown in the region is of the old Kent 975 arabica varietal, and all the coffee is shade grown out of necessity, for reprieve from the oppressive Summer temperatures. In contrast to the A selection we also brought in (also now available), this PB coffee shows a level of complexity we’re not used to in India coffees. It’s actually very interesting to taste them side by side, showing just how different two coffees from the same region and made up of the same varietals can be.
Aromatically, this coffee is not like any other Indian coffee I’ve had. The fragrance and aroma have alluring pungent sweetness, burned sugar and spices, cherry flavored pipe tobacco, and indications of dried fruits. There’s an herbaceous quality too that seems to ‘ghost’ the profile all the way through. (it pretty much feels like India) As brewed coffee the sweetness is a mix of refined sugar and malted barley, the latter adding an Assam tea note to the cup – crisp, clear, and clean. It cools nicely, citrus oil hints popping out along with sweet basil and red bell pepper notes. As espresso, the spiced notes remain in the pallet, and the tobacco notes come to front (excellent with milk). No doubt an interesting cup from an interesting place on the map, I’ve really enjoyed these beans.