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Specialty coffees are high quality coffee, produced in special geographic microclimates that give it its unique flavour profile. This coffee is different from normal coffee in terms of cup and visual quality. Speciality coffee has its own distinct taste, imbibing the flavours from its environment.

Underlying this idea is the fundamental premise that specialty coffee beans would always be well prepared, freshly roasted, and properly brewed. This is the craft of the specialty coffee industry that has been evolving slowly.

Specialty coffee begins at the origin of coffee by planting a particular variety into a specific growing region of the world, and includes the care given to the plant through harvest and preparation for export. There are regions that have proved their ability to grow great coffee owing to their attributes like altitude, latitude and soil among others.

The Green Coffee Classification Chart clearly defines specialty coffee in the green bean phase as a coffee that has no defects and has a distinctive character in the cup. The grade just below specialty is labelled as 'premium'.

The premium grade has no primary defects, but does not necessarily evidence a distinctive character. It has to be notably distinct to be graded into a 'specialty coffee'.

Specialty coffee, in the end, is defined in the cup. It takes many steps to deliver that cup into the customers' hands. Each of those steps can uphold the classification of specialty, provided that the quality has been maintained all through the preceding steps. Given the efforts taken to produce specialty coffee, and given how pleasurable such a cup can be, the definition for it should be jealously guarded, protecting its meaning and credibility, so that the word specialty is used only when it is worth it.

Tata Coffee’s Specialty offerings:

Excellent washed Arabicas and Robustas are the hallmark of Tata Coffee. The entire process from growing, picking, fermenting, pulping, washing and milling is handled by Tata Coffee. It has the best infrastructure in terms of irrigation tanks, McKinnon pulpers, fermentation tanks, etc.

Coffees are entirely shade grown and sun dried. At the estate level, multiple rounds of picking are carried out to ensure that only fully ripe cherries are picked. Meticulous care is taken during the pulping and fermentation process. The number of hours of soaking required varies from estate to estate basedon altitude and temperature at the estate which has been prescribed by our R&D lab after research.

Picking is carried out from towards the end of November to February for Arabicas and from January to March for Robustas.

Tata's dry mill, Kushalnagar Works, has a capacity of 20,000 mt per annum and is equipped with state-of-the-art machinery which includes Elexso colour sorters, Pinhalense gravity separators, container bulk loading machinery, etc. Coffee is stored and milled separately for each estate, thus maintaining the estate identity of the coffee and ensuring traceability to the estate.

Utz Kapeh: meaning good coffee in Mayan language is becoming popular among socially conscious consumers. Tata Coffee farms are 100 per cent Utz Kapeh certified.

SA 8000: Tata Coffee is the only plantation company in the world which has a social accountability certification. This certification reinforces Tata’s focus on workers conditions, welfare and rights.

RA certified: The Rainforest Alliance is a non-governmental organization (NGO) working to conserve biodiversity and ensure sustainable livelihoods by transforming land-use practices, business practices and consumer behavior.

The Rainforest Alliance harnesses market forces as part of its strategy to arrest the major drivers of deforestation and environmental destruction: timber extraction, agricultural expansion, cattle ranching and tourism. The organization trains farmers, foresters and tourism operators in sustainable practices that conserve land and waterways, improve livelihoods, and protect workers and communities; it also helps them access the financing necessary to implement sustainability changes. Farms and forestry enterprises are audited against rigorous standards maintained by the Sustainable Agriculture Network and the Forest Stewardship Council — international NGOs the Rainforest Alliance helped to found. Those farms and forestry enterprises that pass both annual and surprise audits are certified by the organization and earn the right to use the Rainforest Alliance Certified seal. Tourism businesses that adopt established best management practices can use the Rainforest Alliance Verified mark. The seal helps consumers support responsible farmers, foresters and tourism businesses by identifying products sourcing ingredients from these farms and services that have implemented best practices.


Coffee Quality

Tata coffee has an independent Quality Lab which is accredited by the Coffee Board of India. Each estate's coffee is cupped and rated according to the cup profile at the Quality Lab and the results communicated to the estate manager for future guidance.

Tata Coffee's farms have been consistently bagging awards at the Flavour of India Fine Cup Awards held annually and it recently bagged the Gold for Best Robusta in the world at the Grand Crus de CafÚ, Paris in 2004. Six of the 10 best Indian coffees selected by the renowned US based speciality coffee taster and writer, Kenneth Davids, were coffees from Tata farms. Kenneth Davids, a coffee taster based in Berkeley, California created a portfolio of India's 10 best coffees in 2004. He goes on to say, "The first time I encountered Indian coffees in any depth was as a judge at the first 'Flavour of India Fine Cup Awards' in Bangalore. I made several discoveries on that visit: the quality and often surprising distinctiveness of the competing coffees, the rich variety of Indian coffee types, and the impressive ecology of Indian coffee farms, with their gigantic native shade trees and lush interplantings of pepper, fruit and spices. I hope that my descriptions and assessment of these 10 coffees and their easy availability will encourage an understanding of the unique contribution Indian coffees can make to the varied and cosmopolitan world of North American speciality coffee."

Of the 10 coffees adjudged, six coffees belong to Tata estates. To be more specific, four out of five Arabica estates were from Tata estates and two of out five Robusta estates were Tata estates.

The six estates have been listed and described below along with the uniqueness of the other estates.

Monsooned Malabar, Mysore Nugget Extra Bold and Robusta Kaapi Royale are three prominent specialty Indian coffees grown and processed.

Tata's award winning farms Farms

Jumboor Splendour
The coffees of this farm have been consistently winning awards at the Flavour of India Fine Cup awards year after year and is picked up by speciality coffee roasters. Planted in the 1870's on the eastern face of two parallel ranges, Jumboor's Arabicas received the highest rating in Ken Davids portfolio and has been described by him as having intense aroma, mild acidity, full body with ginger and orange in the aroma, floral and fruit tones in the cup including distinct dry berry (a k a black currant) note with a long, rich finish.

Mylemoney Cannon’s Mark
It is one of the oldest large scale coffee estate of Southern India. Established in 1830 by Mr. Thomas Cannon, these coffees were sold as early as 1860 in the London market for a premium as 'Cannon's Coffee, Mylemoney Brand'. Situated at 3400 - 3800 ft (1036 - 1158 metres) on gently sloping mountain soils in the birthplace of coffee in India - Chikmagalur, it produces some of the finest shade grown Arabicas.

Rated the second highest by Ken Davids, he has described its coffees as: Low-toned aroma, round acidity, full body. Hints of sandalwood, orange and chocolate in the aroma. Balanced and understated in the cup, but not simple; rather, rich, sweet and gently fruity.

Valparai Gold
Valparai's Arabicas are sought after by speciality brew masters world over since 1897 for its very sweet aroma, crisply balanced acidity and full body. Cleanly and roundly fruity, even juicy, in the cup with a hint of sweetness.

Located in the heart of the Anamalais region of Tamil Nadu state in Southern India, Valparai is home to a wide variety of wild animals and birds. 'Anamalais' means 'Elephant hills'. As the name suggests, one might bump into an elephant unexpectedly around the corner.

Balmany Devaracadoo Estate
Located in India's most celebrated Robusta growing region - Coorg, at an elevation of 3000 ft, this is a 100 per cent organic estate which was rated the second highest amongst Robusta estates by Ken Davids. All biodegradable and agricultural wastes found on this estate are composted and transformed into vermin-compost and applied to the soil as rich organic fertilizer. The estate has been certified organic by Skal & IMO for NOP and EU norms respectively. Ken David's description: complex, sweetly pungent aroma, full body, touch of acidity. In the aroma, nuts, vanilla, flowers, and a hint of freshly tanned leather. In the cup, richly bittersweet, though more sweet than bitter,

Ubban Estate
The Ubban Estate is located at an elevation of 2600-3100 ft. Ubban grows both Arabica and Robusta varieties of coffee in a 100 per cent shade covered environment abounding in tropical hardwoods.

The beans are demucilaged, fermented and sun-dried. Judged best Arabica from Manjarabad district in the Flavour of Fine Cup Award 2004, Kenneth Davids has described it with adjectives, round, slightly pungent aroma, softly balanced acidity and full body. There are hints of cedar, raisins, dark chocolate and caramel in the aroma. In the cup, it is very rich with dark raisin-toned chocolate flavour. The clean, rich short finish has a slight bitterness in the long-run

Bhagya Estate
Bhagya Estate is located at an elevation of 3100 ft in the Manjarabad region. Arabica and Robusta are both grown here and this estate has been recognised for producing the best Arabica coffees from this region in the India International Coffee Festival 2002.

The beans are demucilaged, fermented and sun-dried. Bhagya Estate has been given the Certificate of Merit winner, Flavour of India Fine Cup Award 2004.

Kenneth Davids rates this as a very sweet aromatic full-bodied coffee with crisply balanced acidity. The caramel aroma has hints of apricot and milk chocolate and is cleanly and roundly fruity, even juicy, in the cup.

Monsooned Malabar Coffee
Monsooned coffee is unique to India. The monsooning of coffee was discovered by accident in the 1950's when coffee beans shipped from the ports of Malabar coast, travelled to Europe during the wet monsoon months and were found to have swollen in size due to absorption of moisture in the air. This produced a coffee with distinctive lingering mellow flavour, which has since become extremely popular. The preparation of monsooned coffee is an elaborate process carried out at the Malabar and Konkan coast of the country and the entire operation of monsooning takes about 10 to 12 weeks.

At Tata Coffee Ltd., the process starts by selecting the best whole crop Arabica/Robusta 'A' grade. These coffees are evenly spread in well-ventilated godowns at our coastal unit in Mangalore bordering the Arabian Sea. The process of monsooning is carried out from the months of June to September of the year, when the South West monsoon is very intense on the West Coast. The coffees are spread on the floor and raked regularly to mix the top and bottom layers uniformly and it takes about 8 to 10 days to absorb the required moisture. During this process, the coffee beans swell in size to about one and a half times the normal size with the colour changing to pale white and golden or light brown. These coffees are then polished in a huller, after which it gets a distinct shining appearance. The coffees are again graded to remove any defective or un-monsooned beans and the resulting finest main grades of monsooned coffees are exported viz., Monsooned Malabar AA, Monsooned Basanally and Monsooned Robusta AA.


Description Sieve Size Tolerance
Monsooned Malabar AA 7.25 mm 90 per cent size by 2 per cent triage by weight
Monsooned Basanally 6.50 mm 75 per cent size by 3 per cent triage by weight
Monsooned Robusta AA 7.10 mm 90 per cent size by 3 per cent triage by weight

At the end of the process, the monsooned coffees will have moisture of around 13 per cent. The coffees are then fumigated and packed in 50 kg per bag for delivery.


Green Bean Exports
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