The cup has a layers of fruit and sugars at both light and dark roast levels. City+ roasts are sweet and bodied, and with notes of kumquat, cane juice, and the tartness of kiwi. This Mandheling definitely has a tropical side to it, and darker roasts show elements of red fruit punch. They also have a bit of burned caramel, with that rustic, unrefined and almost smokey flavor. City+ to Full City+.
Sumatran coffees can be the most earthy, low-toned, and rustic of the Indonesian coffee-growing world, flavors entirely sensed in the anterior regions of the palate. The flavor of Sumatra coffees result from how the coffee is processed, and to a lesser degree the types of coffee varietals planted. Sumatra coffees were once dry-processed, where the cherry is picked from the tree, laid out to dry, and then hulled to green bean in one step. This never worked well because the climate is so wet during the harvest in Sumatra, and rather unpredictable too. So now most Sumatra coffees are wet-hulled (called Giling Basah). Processing starts on the small-holder farms, where they pick the coffee and pulp off the fruit skin in a hand-crank machine. Then most farmers ferment the coffee in small containers to break down the fruity mucilage layer, others simply leave the bags of cherry intact overnight and pulp in the morning. Then they dry the coffee for a few hours on tarps or concrete, and sell it in the local market to coffee collectors. The collectors might dry the coffee a little more, but it is still exceptionally wet when they hull it (hence the term wet-hulled. This wet-hulling is not done anywhere else in the coffee world. The collector then puts the wet, soft green bean (called Kopi Labu, or pumpkin coffee) out on the tarps or concrete to dry. That's another unique aspect of Sumatra processing; nowhere else is the green bean exposed directly to the elements to dry. But in this wet climate, hulling off the outer parchment layer so soon makes the coffee dry much faster, and allows the collector to get it dried down to 14% moisture and sell the coffee to an exporter much sooner than other processing methods. The dried coffee, called Asalan, is prepared on gravity tables and hand sorted again by the better exporters to meet the standards of Grade 1. It takes some work to find a good Mandheling-type coffee, one that doesn't "cross the line" from pleasant earthy tones into the realm of dirty flavors (or worse of all, musty or moldy notes). Our Sumatra Grade 1 Mandheling coffee is from the Lintong Nihota are of North Sumatra. Mandheling is used as a trade name for these coffees but is not a region; It is a different Sumatran ethnic group that historically produced Arabica coffees.
This Mandheling coffee has an earthiness to the sugary aspects, that lie somewhere between grain-like brown rice syrup, and the malty side of unrefined sugars. The dry grounds have a strong scent of ripe berries, raw cane juice and fresh tarragon. Earthy aspects are stronger in lighter roasts, and Full City shows more along the lines of toasted sugars and smokey chocolate. This coffee really sweetens up with the addition of hot water, and takes on much more straight forward notes of brown sugar and butter, along with fresh fig. It's a very sweet crust, and breaking it releases a pungent waft of papaya along with rice pudding in the steam. The cup has a layers of fruit and sugars at both light and dark roast levels. City+ roasts are sweet and bodied, and with notes of kumquat, cane juice, and the tartness of kiwi. This Mandheling definitely has a tropical side to it, and darker roasts show elements of red fruit punch. They also have a bit of burned caramel, with that rustic, unrefined and almost smokey flavor. The finish has a slight dryness and bittersweet quality, reminiscent of Baker's Chocolate - but mostly as mouthfeel, and not flavor. This will make an interesting, rustic-tinged single-origin espresso.