Wet-process India arabica coffees are very mild coffees when they are correctly picked and processed. But much of the coffee is grown at relatively low altitudes and poorly processed and prepared. There is a lot of regular commercial grade India arabica. Even when well done, the coffees can be “softish” physically and in flavor. Soft coffees from low altitudes are more difficult to roast (especially in small home roasters I believe). The result can be ashy flavors, and greater risk of scorching or tipping the coffee. That’s why I have been very impressed with this new crop arrival of Pearl Mountain Peaberry. This coffee plantation was planted in 1920 by Shivappaiya Patre, who cultivated the estate and called it Ratnagiri which when translated to English means Pearl Mountain. This estate has now been passed on to the 3rd generation of Estate owners, Rohith and Ashok Patre. The coffee is planted between 1200 and 1500 meters in a zone of the Western Ghat mountains that gets consistently heavy rainfall. The coffee on the farm is interplanted with pepper vines (which are grown on the canopy of large shade trees) and cardamom groves. The Patre family is extremely quality conscious. The coffee is grown under shade trees midst pepper vines and cardamom groves. The carefully picked cherries are sorted prior to pulping, fermented between 42 and 72 hours and hand-washed in water from clear mountain streams. The brightness and relatively clean cup taste really sets this Indian arabica coffee apart from the mirky, unclean flavors we find often in India wet-process coffees, which are generally more commercial-level coffees.
The dry fragrance has a clean hazelnut tone in its roast aspect, a sweet-savory note, and with a hint of sandalwood. The wet aroma shows moderate sweetness, caramelized notes of dark sugar, and an herbal and bittersweet side. This sort of sweet/savory, and bittersweet aspects are at the core of this peaberry coffee. Bittersweet notes of dark cacao and baking cocoa, pungent burned sugar, and opaque body construct a delicious daily drinking coffee when roasted south of City+. Acidity is mild to moderate, but still provides a nice tea-like tannic feel. Cooling cups offer glimpses of nutty tones, hazelnut and chocolate, and a Thai basil accent. This is definitely a “dark roast” friendly coffee, and those looking for heavy chocolate roast tones should give this Pearl Mountain Peaberry a shot (and a literal “shot” through the espresso machine while you’re at it!).