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June 2012’s pick

Indian Plantation AA Little Flower

Mild, elegant flavours from one of India’s most prestigious plantations. Our Diamond Jubilee choice.

At Kopi our top priority is coffee, not culture. But on the occasion of the Diamond Jubilee, we can’t help but be moved by the history and traditions that define British culture. For us, there was only ever one choice for June 2012: an Indian coffee. Where else but India could we find a rich, mild coffee with a history that so closely matches our own?

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The beautiful Kurinji flower – after which the plantation that cultivates this month’s coffee is named

Our coffee experts’ personal verdicts

Jim, 35 years in the coffee trade
“Looking for a coffee to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee, I looked for a coffee of breeding and elegance. To find this coffee from India, a country that we all know is loved by Her Majesty, is a bonus. It is in my view another ‘jewel in the crown.”

Geoff, 35 years in the coffee trade
“For coffee and curry lovers, don’t expect a Vindaloo! Little Flower is like an authentic Shahi Korma – tantalisingly spicy with a lingering mouth-feel and a slight hit of red chilli – very appropriate, as an approximate translation of Shahi in English is Royal.”

India's unknown export

While India is better known for tea and spices, its shady hills and favourable climate are well suited to coffee production. Yet despite this, less than 5% of the world’s coffee is grown in India. Indian coffees offer a rare treat for connoisseurs searching for new flavours and stories, and Little Flower is a genuinely gourmet selection: its Plantation AA rating is the highest grade of Indian washed Arabica.

The Little Flower estate sits at 4,500 feet above sea level, where coffee cherries grow heavy and sweet under shade trees of mountain oak and spices. The estate is named after the Kurinji flower, which blooms just once every 12 years and covers the hillside in an abundance of tiny purple flowers. South India’s Kurinji flowers last bloomed in 2006.

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‘Little Flower’ comes from the Bababudangiri hills in the southern coffee growing region of India

India and Britain: a shared history of coffee

Britain and India’s coffee connection began in Oxford in 1651 with the opening of the first coffee house. By 1700 there were 3,000 coffee houses in London, and demand had spread to the colonies. The problem of supply was met by the East India Company: just as it had taken British tradition to India, it would bring Indian coffee home to Britain, and across the growing Empire.

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Lloyds coffee house. Where some of the earliest trading happened in the City of London

Tasting notes

There’s no doubt Little Flower is an Indian coffee. The wet aroma is of molasses and toffee with a hint of cinnamon, and there’s a slight tamarind sharpness to the finish. See if you can taste this after a sip. This is a beautiful, sunny morning coffee.

If you’re not sure what is meant by the term ‘wet aroma’, try this little experiment. Spoon the normal coffee measure into an empty cafetiere, then pour in just enough boiled water to create a deep crust of grounds. Grab a spoon and break up the crust, all the while inhaling. That’s the wet aroma. (You can then add the rest of the water and brew normally.)

To really get the wet aroma, try infusing the normal coffee measure in your cafetiere, with just enough boiled water to cover the coffee and to get a deep “crust”. The aroma will be really intense especially when the crust is broken up after a few seconds, with a spoon. Then top up with more of the boiled water to the desired level, stir and leave to brew for 2-3mins before plunging.

Preparation tip: Little Flower is best served as an espresso. It is smooth and rich, and the light, creamy looking crema is pleasing to eye and mouth. If you’re making a latte or cappuccino, go easy on the milk to avoid drowning out these delicate flavours.

At a glance

  • Flavour
    4 out of 5
  • Body
    3 out of 5
  • Depth of Roast
    4 out of 5
  • Acidity
    3 out of 5