This crop of aged Sumatra Aceh coffee is made up of the coffee of small producers collected in the North Lake Toba region. Aged coffees from Indonesia have a long history; in the age of sail-powered marine transportation, everything arrived on US shores as aged coffee. Over time in the ship's hold, the coffee turned color, and became seasoned with a host of flavors, some desirable and some certainly not. It's no surprise that the time it took to get from port to port increased the coffee's value. At this time Indonesian coffee fetched upwards to 27 cents per Lb, whereas Central and South American coffees cost around 3 cents. Now coffee is intentionally aged to transform the flavors - this lot was aged 5 years years after wet hulling in stainless steel vats, not in jute bags. Aged coffee is not just old, past-crop coffee. It is monitored during aging, regularly rotated and cupped for flavor as time goes by. This isn't to say that aged Indonesian coffees are necessarily "better", but they definitely have a cup profile that is truly unique to the other coffees we offer. This lot perfectly emulates this historic processing method, resulting in a truly unique Indonesian coffee that has a surprisingly clean flavor profile, and marked sweetness as well.
The first sip of an aged coffee might come as a shock, until your taste buds adapt themselves to the extreme flavors: intense, deep, savory, woody, syrupy, rustic. Aged coffees are well-suited to darker roast levels, and I must say I do not find the City roast of this coffee very agreeable. It needs the intense and brooding weight of darker roasting to pair the origin flavors of the bean in this case. It also needs to rest! Aged coffees improve greatly after 3-4 days out of the roaster. The ground coffee has an unusual fragrance; barley malt, hickory wood, caramel, rustic chocolate and spice. The wet aroma is foresty, and paired with a deep caramelized sugar scent in our Full City roast. The cup is so intense. You need time to recover from the first sip. Immediately the coffee seems peppery, hot, with some strong leather-like notes, but they fade into dark syrupy sweetness. The sweetness grows as the cup cools, and intermingling with notes of fresh green herb, aromatic woody flavors, black cherry, tanned leather...it's all there, and more. An interesting sidebar is that we often find sweet, clean coffees less appealing (or at the very least harder to judge) after eating something sweet, but not so with this one. Something about the complex crossing of herbal, savory, and earth tones that actually seemed to pair well with a granola bar! This coffee is unique too because many flavors are sapid but difficult to pin down, and many occur on the palate, in the range between bittering and savory, rather than volatile aromas that are sensed in the olfactory. It's an interesting experience, this Aged Sumatra Aceh, and one you might find infinitely pleasing...or maybe not. Try a small amount and find out.