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Sumatra Mandheling-Aceh Triple-Pick


Sumatra coffees are a grand exception in many ways. I 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 called 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. This is a particular lot I really liked for it's bittersweet character, and subtle fruit highlights. It's from the Aceh (pronounced ah-cha) area in the North, from 1450-1600 meters. This lot has been hand-sorted a third time before export, hence it is called Triple Pick, and I must say the sort looks pretty good. That doesn't mean it's perfect, you should expect some bug holes, broken beans, dark colored beans (not to be confused with full black beans) and the like. But put this up against your average "Mandheling Grade 1", and this coffee shines!

The dry grounds of this coffee have a deep, brooding sweetness, like black strap molasses, and rustic accents of sweet herbal and earthy tones, and roasted cacao. The foresty smell builds in the wet aroma, and really develops in darker roasts. The wet grounds have a note of cola nut, much in the way of caramelized sugars, and a green tarragon note in the darker roasts. The cup has layered chocolate roast taste, and inky body. Cocoa powder and dark chocolate are prime characteristics which are accented by some light fruit hints, and savory to sweet earth notes. The finish has a bittersweet quality, reminiscent of Baker’s Chocolate.  This will make a great, and interesting single-origin espresso, as well as provide the perfect accent coffee for those desiring an Indonesian coffee ingredient for blending.