The Sumatra coffee is some of the world’s finest premium gourmet coffees that are grown in Sumatra and called Mandheling, Ankola, and Lintong (named after the regions), these unique coffees are distinguished by their heavy body, earthy flavor profile and low acidity.
Sumatra Mandheling coffee is named after the north Sumatran Mandheling people and is considered one of the world’s top specialty coffees. This special coffee beans grows at altitudes of up to 5,000 feet and as low as 2,500 feet above sea level near Padang in west central Indonesia.
With a body as full as any premium coffee, Sumatra Mandheling is frequently described as syrupy, mild acidity is apparent and the tastes are complex and intense, and a chocolate sweet flavor often holds earthy undertones. Notes of licorice may also be present.
Sumatra coffee captures the wild jungle essence of this tropical Indonesian island. Delicious Sumatran coffee is creamy, sweet with a touch of butterscotch, and spice. Before roasting, the green coffee beans of Sumatran coffee are a beautiful blue green color with the appearance of jade.
Most of the Sumatran Coffee is wet hulled, wet hulling is the most common processing method used in Sumatra. Coffees processed this way are sometimes called natural or dry processed, wet hulling is distinct from natural processing methods used in other parts of the world, such as Ethiopia.
Here are the Steps Farmers Follow for Wet Hulling:
1. Farmers remove the skin of the coffee cherry immediately after picking using proprietary machines.
2. The skinned coffee beans are placed in woven bags and left to ferment overnight
3. The following morning, coffee farmers wash off the mucilage (remaining fruit) by hand
4. The coffee beans, in their parchment, are partially dried in the coffee farmer’s yard
5. The coffee beans are shipped to a warehouse, where the parchment is removed, and the coffee beans continue to dry
6. The coffee beans are shipped to a port city for exportation, and dried a third time at the port city
Wet Hulling Leaves Coffee Moist for Longer
Part of the reason the coffee beans are not dried by coffee farmers is because Sumatra has such a wet climate, which is great for growing the coffee trees but poses processing challenges. In most processing methods, coffee beans are dried until their moisture levels are between 9-11% when they leave the processing facility. Because wet hulling involves three stages of drying, the coffee’s moisture remains well above 11% for a long time – often until it’s finally exported.
Wet Hulling Produces Unique Characteristics
Sumatran coffee’s unique characteristics stem from wet hulling. The modified natural processing method and extended drying time produce coffees with muted flavors and aromas. Instead of being known for their notes, Sumatran coffees are typically characterized by their full bodies and low acidity. The aromas and flavors they do feature tend to be funky, earthy, spicy, wild, mossy, mushroomy.
To enhance the coffee beans unique characteristics, and to counteract the high variance that’s introduced by a multi-stage processing method and using homemade hulling machines, most coffee roasters will roast Sumatran coffee dark. This builds on their body and adds a roast induced richness to the coffee beans.
When you experience Sumatran coffee, some customers say they are hooked for life. You may find the coffee bean that will be your favorite for the rest of your life, so why not try it, you may find it amazing!