A popular legend attributes India's coffee industry to a Muslim pilgrim named Baba Budan, who smuggled seven coffee seeds out of Mecca in 1670. British colonial rulers developed coffee into a commercial crop that remained valuable until 1870 when Coffee Leaf Rust devastaed virtually all the country's plantings. In 1920, arabica was reintroduced and now accounts for about 50% of India's total crop. India is the second biggest producer in Asia and is responsible for 25% of Asian coffee production.

India's coffee grows between 2,900 and 5,900 feet above sea level, usually on terraces in the mountainous regions. Coffees produced in India have more in common with Indonesian coffees than with coffees from Africa or the Arabian Peninsula. Good Indian coffees are grown in the states of Karnatka (formerly Mysore - approximately 80% of Indian coffee is grown here), Kerala, and Tamilnadu (formerly Madras). In good years, these coffees can contain acidity typical of Guatemalan coffee, and the full body of a good Javanese coffee. In addition, these coffees incorporate the unique spicy flavours of nutmeg, clove, cardamon and pepper.

India also produces monsoon coffees, in which green beans have been exposed to the monsoon winds, blowing through open warehouses in India's rainy season. This process reduces acidity and enhances sweetness, making them similar to Indonesian aged coffees.