It’s not everyday you run across a coffee that makes you rethink everything you thought you knew about a coffee origin. I think it’s fair to say that Sumatra is one of those coffee origins that can be polarizing for many of us; you tend to either love ‘em or hate ‘em.
The typical woodsy/spicy/earthy/peppery cup profile of Sumatra is the culmination of many variables, but mainly cultivar and processing method. Sumatra grows mostly Robusta and Robusta-Arabica hybrids, which often express much more bitterness and earthiness in the cup. However, the largest impact on this origin’s unique flavor profile comes from the way they process their coffee. Typically, coffee is grown by small-holder family farmers, who grow and harvest the fruit. Once harvested the cherries get depulped by hand, sometimes getting rinsed a bit, then laid out on tarps. Collectors, who purchase pulped cherry for processors, collect the wet pulped seeds from the farmer, and deliver them to the dry mill. Here they mill the coffee while the seed is still moist, hulling away the seeds protective parchment layer. Now the exposed moist seed has the ability to absorb environmental flavors, which it often does.
This lot, curated in partnership by Santiang Exports and Anthem Coffee Imports, is a perfect example of how when specific attention to cultivar selection and processing technique is applied, the result can be truly exceptional.
Unlike the typical Sumatra profile, you will find plenty of sweetness and fruit flavors, intertwined with deep spice notes in the Kerinci Honey. The first taste of this coffee reminded me of sipping a velvety red wine, maybe something like Malbec. The cup bursts with ripe acidic fruits such as cherry, red currant, and cranberry. While the finish lingers with warming mulling spice. I’d say this is the perfect winter coffee, and indeed will only be around for the first couple months of 2018, so get a bag while it’s around.
Ian Picco – Director of Coffee