A trip out to Merthi Mountain starts with a four hour train ride, followed by a three hour drive up the windy roads to the top of the Baba Budangiri hills. Getting to the best coffees always means making our way to the top, but now that I have a travel buddy I’m reminded how tiring/interesting/exhilarating it is when you finally get the top and relax in the old colonial bungalows which were built in the late 1800’s.

This is my third time at Merthi Mountain, and I keep coming back as their SL 9 variety grown specifically on this farm continues to lure us here. They only harvest a small amount (about 5-10 tonnes per year, depending on the season), but the unique cup profile that is a mix of a very fine Indian coffee and delicate East African makes it very alluring. It’s exciting to find amazing Indian coffees, as the reputation for specialty coffees coming out of India is not great. But I’m forging on with this quest, knowing with confidence that we are getting the best Indian coffees available in world.

Trusting our taste buds and experience, it feels exciting to be one of the few specialty companies who are committed to exploring this country and offering the best of the best to our customers.

This year, Merthi has taken the time to process our SL 9 using four different methods, all of which show a slightly different cup profile. I’m hoping to get these super fresh coffees, which are still in parchment and awaiting final processing, back home in time for MICE so that we can invite you to taste them for yourselves.

We’ll have the following:

SL 9 RED, WASHED: This cup profile is one of my favourites and it’s the one I originally fell in love with. It’s light (yes, light), delicate, floral, sweet, citric and very clean.

SL 9 RED, Pulped Natural: A similar profile to the above, but with a distinctly creamier body that is sweet and honeyed, rounded and smoother with blackcurrant tones all the way through.

SL 9 RED, Natural: A good natural needs good fruit and this one works very well. Jammy fruits, a clean and consistent cup and a creamy, sweet mouthfeel.

SL 9 PURPLE, Pulped Natural: A new experiment this year, this lot is very small (only two bags) and is called purple as the cherries turn almost eggplant in colour. The residual sugars increase while the cherry remains plump and juicy. I’m very excited about this cup! It’s got all the character of the SL 9 RED, but it is heavier, richer, sweeter and distinct.

As you can tell, I’m excited about this coffee — as we should be! It’s all possible in India and the farmers are very excited and willing to take their coffees to the next level if the interest is there. So I guess that is part of the key in emerging specialty regions; you need to be in there early, making sure you are clear about what you want to achieve and then the farmers are more than willing to oblige. In fact, based on our love of this coffee, they are now replacing some of the BBTC with new SL 9 trees. Without that demand and request, there is less chance of just rocking up and finding your perfect coffee … yet! But who knows, things are always changing ….

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