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This Aceh-Mandheling shows classic characteristics of molasses sweetness and earth-tones, herbaceus and aromatic wood notes. It's a low acid cup too, making a great espresso blend option. City+ to Vienna. Good for Espresso.
City + to Full City+. This Sumatra crop can be roasted on either side of 2nd crack. It works great for darker roasts and blends too. Sumatra appears lighter to the eye than the actual degree of roast, when compared to other coffees visually.
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. 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. We don't have a whole lot of information on this particular coffee, thought it is from the Aceh (pronounced ah-cha) area in the North, from 1450-1600 meters. It's shows much of what we think of as "Sumatra" character - low acidity, molasses sugars, and complex earth tones. You can see from the photo that even as a "Grade 1" preparation there are still several defects, mostly chipped beans and bug holes. This is fairly common for Sumatra, and while it cups fine as-is, this is a good opportunity to test your coffee sorting skills (check out our Sumatra sorting video HERE. It's also fun to roast two batches side-by-side - one sorted, one unsorted - and see how the elimination of defects affects the overall cup character.
The dry grounds of this coffee have malty-sweetness, toast with black-strap molasses, and an earthy cacao-nib presence. The wet coffee has a note of cola nut, and a peaty/earth smell, herbaceous on the break. Brewing middle-range roasts (City+/Full City) shows layered chocolate roast taste coupled with pungent molasses sweetness. A pine-resin note lingers in as the cup cools, melding with a near-campfire/aromatic wood flavor. The finish has a slight dryness and bittersweet quality, reminiscent of Baker_‹_s Chocolate. Herbal highlights that you might expect from Mandheling-Aceh coffee come up, mixed in with a sort of non-descript "fruitiness" as it cools. Acidity is very low too, which makes for a nice blend component or wild earth-toned single origin espresso.