A solid example of Aceh coffee, heavy earth toned, rice syrup sweetness, pipe tobacco, bitter cacao, and fresh cut wood. A complex Sumatra, with the low acid/big body you expect from the region. City+ to Vienna.
Sumatra coffees are a grand exception in many ways. We would not accept the earthy tones, the low acidity, or other exotic and rustic flavors from other origins, especially in wet-processed coffees. But in Sumatra coffee, flavors seen as defect from other origins can be positive attributes! The unique flavors are due to the influence of the coffee varieties, the climate, and, last but not at all least, the processing method we call Wet-hull (or Giling Basah to locals). Here's an overview of the processing difference: Traditional Sumatras are from small-holder farms, where they process the coffee by pulping off the skin in a hand-crank machine, then ferment the coffee in buckets of water or small concrete tanks to break down the fruity mucilage layer. This is not so different from wet-processing, but by the time they leave it to ferment may or may not be enough to remove all the fruit, and they don't wait for the coffee to dry. Basically it is traded to collectors, middlemen, while the coffee has high humidity. When sold to the mill, it might be dried a little more, but it is hulled out of the parchment skin wet; hence the term Wet-hulled (check out our article on wet-hulling HERE. The fact that the green coffee is then laid out to dry on patios is quite different than wet-processing, where the coffee is dried in the parchment. And it's also where a lot of Sumatra coffee is ruined, since it can absorb taints from the environment. This is a particular lot we liked for it's sweet earthy character, body, and low acid - what we expect from the region. It's from the Aceh (pronounced ah-cha) area in the North, from 1450-1600 meters.
The dry grounds of this coffee have an intense and earthy sweetness. It's like brown rice syrup and a peet smell, strong wafts of raw cacao nibs and wood/tobacco. The wet grounds have notes of cola nut and pipe tobacco, and a hefty molasses smell. The cup is inky in texture, and City+ to Full City yields a flavors of palm sugar, sweet tobacco and leather, bittersweet baking cocoa, and an aroma of fresh cut fir tree. 'Green' notes come out as the cup cools, herbal and mossy, and add to the complexity. This coffee fares best at a minimum of City+ and up to second snaps, darker roasts building out more chocolate and roast tones. Roast level can be tough to judge as they don't darken up a whole lot, and the surface remains pretty mottled in color. Best to really listen for those first snaps and use 'crack' progression and time as your roast measurements.