What is a Mandheling, anyway? Mandheling has been been loosely applied to any coffee from North Sumatra or Aceh district, but the actual Mandheling district has little coffee remaining but some low-land robusta. Mandheling was a historical name. We can respect that, but we like to keep the romance in check, and prefer some real-world specifics. Indeed, this is a special coffee from a small area called Dagang Sepakat Indah, in Bener Meriah, Aceh district. With the main geographic feature being Lake Takengon, we use that motif. And it has "classic" Sumatra character, that reverberant, deep-toned, mildly earthy, low acid heavy body cup. This is distinct from the Lintong area coffee we offer, which are generally more herbal in flavor. We like Aceh coffees for their balance, and the fact they work very well in espresso. (Lintongs have an herbal note that can be odd in espresso). And this coffee is not a general, pooled lot from wherever in Aceh the local middlemen can get coffee for cheap. It's from a specific farmer group in the highlands of Bener Meriah, and is also a "triple pick" preparation at the mill, hand sorting of this coffee to achieve this beautiful jade-green uniformity. What I have also found consistently here is a great flavor profile; aggressive, yet with a foresty sweetness with positive earthy hints. The fragrance from the dry grounds has semi-sweet chocolate roast tones (FC+) with woody tree bark and darkly caramelized sugar sweetness. Adding water, the tenor-to-bass range of the cup is clear, reiterating what we find in the dry fragrance, with the addition of a deep sandalwood aromatic, brown bread, bran muffin, and molasses. Low acidity means the cup has less dimension and perceived complexity ... but that's what a Sumatra is all about as well; heavy body, chocolate, a coffee profile painted in earth-shades. While the cup showcases pleasing bitterness over sweetness, there is clear presence of both; dark brown sugar, baker's chocolate, dark fig, rustic caramel notes. There is black pepper in the finish, as well as earthy tones, and a bit of truffles. There are also muted ripe fruits; plum-prune, fig. Favors are savory, and much more is sensed on the palate, on the tongue, then in the olfactory, aromatically. Also, a coffee with this flavor profile doesn't chart well on a cupping form, hence the strong use of the Cupper's Correction. While Full City roast levels give the known Sumatra flavor profile, I recommend experimenting with some City=City+ roasts here. A good Sumatra can take a lighter roast, and will show sweetness (quite caramelly in this coffee) whereas a not-so-good coffee will reveal musty notes. I am quite sure you will find this special lot works well throughout the roast range!