This season’s harvest has finally landed and is ready to hit hoppers across Australia. What started off as a bit of a curious trip to ‘near-by’ India, has now turned into our third season of visiting and purchasing from what I believe is one of the best placed speciality coffee farms in country.
In terms of what to expect from Attikan coffees, I realise that all the fancy descriptors (mostly used for industry people) can be confusing to some drinkers and that many of you are just looking for some guidelines. The process of selecting coffees, dissecting flavours and picking up on intricate qualities in coffee does require a certain focus, attention to detail and willingness to learn. Essentially, the more you taste, the more you know when it comes to comparisons, and the broader your range of experience is, the better you get at identifying different tastes and levels of quality. However, if you’re just starting out on your coffee-tasting journey, acidity and body might be a good place to direct your focus and here is why.
Indian coffees are generally at one end of the spectrum; they are heavy in body and low in acidity.
I use the word ‘generally’ because there are always exceptions to the rule, but the vast majority of Indian coffees are in this realm of having a heavy body and low acidity. This is not a chance combination. From experience, we know that naturally lower growing conditions are a part of the reason this combination results in the cup. While there are other defining factors (variety, processing, soil conditions, roasting and brewing etc.) I have yet to taste any high acid-low body coffees grown at low altitude.
‘Body’ refers to the sense of weight on your tongue and it often comes out in descriptors such as heavy, chewy, viscous, oily to medium, creamy, balanced and then, finally, thin, watery, weak and light. ‘Acidity’ refers to perceived acidity on your tongue and also ranges from low to high and is often described as low, smooth, mild to juicy, citric and crisp, all the way to high, snappy, bright and pointed. The broad ranges of perceived body and acidity in the cup can all be very positive (rich, sweetly acidic, light and delicate etc.) and equally negative (thin, sour and sharp.) The point is that neither extreme is better than the other, it’s more a matter of personal preference.
The best way to hone your ‘body and acidity’ skills is to taste two contrasting coffees side by side.
Attikan is a good place to start, as your high body-low acid coffee and something like our Ethiopian Kochere from Yirgacheffe is a good one to use as your low body-high acid coffee. Both of these coffees are processed in the same way. However, the Indian is grown between 1300-1650 masl and the Kochere is grown at 1800-2200 masl.
The beauty of Attikan estate coffee is that it is one of those exceptions to the rule. As far as Indian coffees go, it is grown in the higher altitude range. So while it does have a heavy body, that body is luxurious, sweet and coating like melted milk chocolate. The acidity is mellow, sweet, round and juicy making it a coffee that is a beautiful choice for espresso. It also blends well and is a really easy cup for those wanting something balanced and seamless. If you read about the estate here, you’ll see that it’s very isolated and sits far away from many of the traditional coffee farming areas of Karnataka. It really is a hidden gem that we were very lucky to find and be able to offer exclusively in Australia.
We recently served this coffee at the Melbourne International Coffee Expo in May as a filter coffee. Served blind, many coffee professionals guessed that it was a Central American coffee as they are well known for their sweetly acidic cups. Like I said, Attikan really is a hidden Indian gem.