Some of the world’s finest premium gourmet coffees are grown in Sumatra, Indonesia. It has received positive reviews from coffee critics and is renowned worldwide for its rich, satisfying flavor. Although according to some experts, Sumatra coffees are not for everyone. Some might consider the taste to be overwhelming, especially if they are uninitiated coffee drinkers. Even so, the coffee bean is frequently sought after by those who are sensitive to acidic coffee, due to its low acidity. Sumatra coffee also contains less caffeine since it is primarily Arabica species. This means that its level of caffeine is rather standard. As we all know, Arabica coffee has less caffeine than Robusta.
Some historical facts. Sumatra coffee is one of the oldest coffee beans in the world, since Sumatra was one of the first regions where coffee beans were cultivated on a large scale. Coffee plants were first brought to Indonesia by Dutch traders during the Colonial period in the late 1600s. Mass coffee production then started around 1884 near Lake Toba, the largest volcanic lake in the world. The lake surrounds a super volcano, making the soil incredibly fertile and nutrient-rich, perfect for growing coffee. Indonesia is now the fifth-largest coffee producing country in the world, and Sumatra contributes a very significant percentage of the nation’s production, about 74.2% of the total crop.
In general, Sumatra coffee is known for its unique and complex flavor profile, which is often described as earthy and spicy with notes of dark chocolate, and tobacco. It is also known for its low acidity and full body, making it an excellent choice for those who prefer a bolder and richer coffee. Others have considered Sumatra coffee to be creamy, chocolaty, or even mushroomy. This unique flavor profile is influenced by two main factors: the nutrients found in the soil and the climatic conditions of the area in which it is grown. However, the bean processing method also contributes to the overall taste of Sumatra coffee beans. Giling Basah –or wet hulling– is the traditional method used to process Sumatra coffee beans. This method allows the beans to develop a very full and concentrated flavor, with a touch of herbs and spices. This process also allows beans to be shelled at 50% moisture content, which is much higher than the typical 11% to 15% found in other regions. The wet-hulling method makes Sumatra coffee taste more earthy and less acidic. It is widely used in Indonesia due to its wetter climate. The processing time is also shorter than other treatment methods, which significantly reduces processing cost. Wet hulling should not be confused with wet processing, as both are very different methods. “Wet processing” is the traditional washing process used in most coffee-producing countries.
In terms of roast level, many tend to roast Sumatra coffee towards the dark side of the spectrum, to bring out more sweetness and body. However, coffee experts suggest not to limit yourself and judge each batch of beans individually as not all Sumatra beans have the same characteristics. It is also important not to over-roast Sumatra coffee beans as it can destroy the entire flavor profile. Spend some time experimenting on the roast level, until you find which roast is best for your Sumatra coffee beans.