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Sulawesi

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Sulawesi Wet-Process Toraja

Wet-process coffees from Sumatra or Sulawesi are rare. There are other Indonesia islands (Java, Timor, Flores) and sources farther up the island arc (Papua New Guinea) that do wet-processing. But Sumatra and Sulawesi are known for the Giling Basah (Wet-hulled) process that results in the heavy body, low acid cup profile tasters associate with the reason. This is an example of flavors from processing having a huge bearing on the cup flavors. Previous examples of wet-process Sumatra showed that when you lift that veil of "process flavor", there was little origin character, be it from the cultivar, the altitude, the micro-climate, or anything else, to speak of ... in other words, the coffee was incredibly boring. For those who dislike process flavors this always poses a problem; fruitiness from funky fermentation, or earthiness from the fact that, in Sulawesi and Sumatra, green coffee is dried directly on the ground/patio/tarp, with no protective shell or skin. So the question always in the back of my mind was this: are these inferior coffees that are being "flavored" by process, something we would not accept from any other origin. If we lift that veil of flavoring, would there indeed be a cup "signifying nothing." Well, to stand as clear proof that fear is unfounded, we offer a totally unconventional, fully washed (wet-process) coffee Toraja. Relieve this coffee of the overlaying process flavor, and it soars! Clean, bright, sweet: things that only come with good handling, good altitude, and good cultivar. While it may be a flavor profile one expects from Guatemala, not Sulawesi, it might also prove to those who don't like the earthy funk of Indonesia coffee that they CAN find something extraordinary from this part of the world. I visited there late last year and was so impressed. This coffee is purchased from smallholders with altitudes upward of 1500 meters, and then processed under control of the farm. The farm also provides agronomic education to these farmers to make sure the strict quality measures are met (in particular, the purchase only of fully ripe, red coffee cherry, and exacting milling and sorting standards).

While this an unusual Sulawesi cup, it still has flavors that relate to other coffees of the region. The dry fragrance is floral, potent, dynamic and bright with dried orange peel and rose petal potpourri. Slight traces of fresh pinesap beneath the floral and citrus hearken to the foresty character of Sulawesi. The wet aroma has the same super-fragrant potpourri character, with a slightly more herbal-floral aspect. In the cup, the clean and sweet character is so unique for this origin. The body is moderate, certainly less than the wet-hulled Sulawesi coffees, but suggestions of pine/juniper resinous flavors give an Indonesian twist to a profile that might otherwise be Guatemalan. While bright and dynamic, it has a softer side too, characterized by the floral notes and balance; this dimension reminds me of Kona ... but this is far more complex and sweet than any Kona coffee. Perhaps the "island character" influence links the two, as marine climate patterns seem to be at play with both. The finish balances between the floral and the foresty character I mentioned before. This AA preparation is, like all things from this exporter, quite expertly done. It is very large, rating more as a 19+ screen than an 18.



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

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Sorting coffee cherry in Toraja, from my trip this year.
Country: Sulawesi, Indonesia
Grade: A Grade
Region: Island of Sulawesi, Tana Toraja
Processing: Wet Process
Arrival Date: December 2010 Arrival
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17-18 screen
Varietal: Djember (S-795)
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / Floral and clean foresty flavors and aromas
Roast: City+ is ideal for the cup I describe, lighter than other Sulawesi coffees. This coffee can take darker roasts and develops a good chocolate bittersweet roast flavor.
Compare to: Expect something different here, a bit uncanny. It's not like a Sulawesi you have had before, yet it's roots are firmly planted in Sulawesi origin character. It has traces of Guatemala and Hawaii Kona.
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Sulawesi Wet-Process Tana Toraja Peaberry

Wet-process coffees from Sumatra or Sulawesi are rare. There are other Indonesia islands (Java, Timor, Flores) and sources farther up the island arc (Papua New Guinea) that do wet-processing. But Sumatra and Sulawesi are known for the Giling Basah (Wet-hulled) process that results in the heavy body, low acid cup profile tasters associate with the reason. Giling Basah is an example of flavors from processing having a huge bearing on the cup flavors. Previous examples of wet-process Sumatra showed that when you lift that veil of "process flavor", there was little origin character, be it from the cultivar, the altitude, the micro-climate, or anything else, to speak of ... in other words, the coffee was incredibly boring. For those who dislike process flavors this always poses a problem; how to avoid off flavors from funky fermentation methods, or earthiness from the fact that, in Sulawesi and Sumatra, green coffee is dried directly on the ground with no protective shell or skin. So the question always in the back of my mind was this: are these inferior coffees that are being "flavored" by processing, something we would not accept from any other origin. If we lift that veil of flavoring, would there indeed be a cup "signifying nothing." Well, to stand as clear proof that fear is unfounded, we offer a totally unconventional, fully washed (wet-process) coffee from a long-established operation in Sulawesi. It's a unique flavor, and proves the potential of Sulawesi coffee: Strip off the overlaying process flavor, and it soars! Clean, bright, sweet; things that only come with good handling, good altitude, and good cultivar. While it may be a flavor profile one expects from Guatemala, not Sulawesi, it might also prove to those who don't like the earthy funk of Indonesia coffee that they CAN find something extraordinary from this part of the world.I have visited twice, with the most recent trip a rewarding journey to the small producers in the far north valleys who grow the best coffee. While this an unusual Sulawesi cup, it still has flavors that relate to other coffees of the region. This is the first Peaberry arrival of the new crop.

The dry fragrance is potent, with dynamic sweetness (Muscovado raw sugar) and flowery brightness. In the wet aroma, there are candy-like floral and fruit notes, with a hint of foresty character and pine, a hint of its Indonesian origin. In the cup, the clean and sweet character is so unique for this origin. The body is moderate, certainly less than the wet-hulled Sulawesi coffees, but suggestions of pine/juniper resinous flavors give an Indonesian twist to a profile that might otherwise be Guatemalan. While bright and dynamic, it has a softer side too, characterized by the floral notes and balance. As it cools the coffee rounds out, has more body, and greater intensity, and greater sweetness. The finish balances between the floral, sweet and the foresty character I mentioned before. This peaberry preparation is very good, with a couple mild quakers (from immature fruit) per batch.



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

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Hand sorting of coffee at Toarco's mill, Pedermeran Estate, Toraja.
Country: Sulawesi
Grade: One
Region: Island of Sulawesi, Tana Toraja
Processing: Wet Process
Arrival Date: October 2010 Arrival (GrainPro Bag)
Appearance: .6 d/300gr, 17+ PB screen
Varietal: Djember (S-795), Typica
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / Bright (for an Indonesia), sweet, floral and clean foresty flavors and aromas
Roast: City+ is ideal for the cup I describe, lighter than other Sulawesi coffees. This coffee can take darker roasts and develops a good chocolate bittersweet roast flavor.
Compare to: Expect something different here, a bit uncanny. It's not like a Sulawesi you have had before, yet it's roots are firmly planted in Sulawesi origin character. It has traces of Guatemala and even Kona.
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Sulawesi Toraja WP Decaf

The cup character of the best Toraja rivals the best Sumatran coffees, and that goes for decaf too. The deep-toned flavors and syrupy body sets it apart, and results in a stunning, clearer taste profile (but less sheer power and earthiness) than a Mandheling. Sulawesi makes a great single-origin espresso too. It has such a solid balance and baritone-weighted flavor profile that, roasted to FC+ or a light Vienna and rested for 5 days post-roast, makes for a great Indonesian decaf espresso. This decaf takes a wide range of roasts (but I think it works best a bit darker, FC+ to Vienna). The aromatics have a lot of chocolate (recurrent theme here is bittersweet balance) and rustic notes. I found City+ roast to be a bit herbal in the dry fragrance, but with hints of anise at Full City+ roast. In the wet aroma, pungent spice notes, pepper and licorice abound, with the omnipresent chocolate scents. This follows through in the cup too. One is struck immediately by extremely low acidity (which might give it an impression of "flatness" to some, but of depth to others). Either way, it allows the full breadth of the body to come through, dense, and oily in texture. I can't use the word chocolate enough here, which is always a roast-dependent term, but pertains more to particular coffees such as this. Lighter roasts have a mild and creamy chocolate, becoming more pungent at FC roast level, and Baker's Chocolate-like at Vienna. Licorice, molasses, anise, and some carbony flavors are present in the dark roast range. It has good potential for decaf espresso, or as a base (as well as bass?) part of a low-caf espresso blend. For a low-tonal range cup, this is a great choice, and I feel it retains much of the rustic feel of its non-decaf counterpart.





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Local coffee trader at Buntu market, from my last Sulawesi trip.
Country: Indonesia, Sulawesi
Grade: One
Region: Toraja, Sulawesi (formerly Kalossi)
Processing: Wet-hulled, then WP Decaf
Arrival Date: May 2010 Arrival
Appearance: .8 d/300gr, 17-18 screen
Varietal: Sumatra-based Typica Cultivar
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium Bold intensity / Low acidity, good body, chocolate roast notes, rustic
Roast: Full City+ is ideal for the cup I describe. This coffee needs a heavy roast treatment.
Compare to: A rustic, natural, dry-process Indonesian cup profile in a decaf coffee.
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Sulawesi AA Wet-Process Toraja

Wet-process coffees from Sumatra or Sulawesi are rare. There are other Indonesia islands (Java, Timor, Flores) and sources farther up the island arc (Papua New Guinea) that do wet-processing. But Sumatra and Sulawesi are known for the Giling Basah (Wet-hulled) process that results in the heavy body, low acid cup profile tasters associate with the reason. This is an example of flavors from processing having a huge bearing on the cup flavors. Previous examples of wet-process Sumatra showed that when you lift that veil of "process flavor", there was little origin character, be it from the cultivar, the altitude, the micro-climate, or anything else, to speak of ... in other words, the coffee was incredibly boring. For those who dislike process flavors this always poses a problem; fruitiness from funky fermentation, or earthiness from the fact that, in Sulawesi and Sumatra, green coffee is dried directly on the ground/patio/tarp, with no protective shell or skin. So the question always in the back of my mind was this: are these inferior coffees that are being "flavored" by process, something we would not accept from any other origin. If we lift that veil of flavoring, would there indeed be a cup "signifying nothing." Well, to stand as clear proof that fear is unfounded, we offer a totally unconventional, fully washed (wet-process) coffee Toraja. Relieve this coffee of the overlaying process flavor, and it soars! Clean, bright, sweet; things that only come with good handling, good altitude, and good cultivar. While it may be a flavor profile one expects from Guatemala, not Sulawesi, it might also prove to those who don't like the earthy funk of Indonesia coffee that they CAN find something extraordinary from this part of the world. I visited there late last year and was so impressed. This coffee is purchased from smallholders with altitudes upward of 1500 meters, and then processed under control of the farm. The farm also provides agronomic education to these farmers to make sure the strict quality measures are met (in particular, the purchase only of fully ripe, red coffee cherry, and exacting milling and sorting standards).

While this an unusual Sulawesi cup, it still has flavors that relate to other coffees of the region. The dry fragrance is floral, potent, dynamic and bright with dried orange peel and rose petal potpourri. Slight traces of fresh pinesap beneath the floral and citrus harken to the foresty character of Sulawesi. The wet aroma has the same super-fragrant potpourri character, with a slightly more herbal-floral aspect. In the cup, the clean and sweet character is so unique for this origin. The body is moderate, certainly less than the wet-hulled Sulawesi coffees, but suggestions of pine/juniper resinous flavors give an Indonesian twist to a profile that might otherwise be Guatemalan. While bright and dynamic, it has a softer side too, characterized by the floral notes and balance; this dimension reminds me of Kona ... but this is far more complex and sweet than any Kona coffee. Perhaps the "island character" influence links the two, as marine climate patterns seem to be at play with both. The finish balances between the floral and the foresty character I mentioned before. This AA preparation is, like all things from this exporter, quite expertly done. It is very large, rating more as a 19+ screen than an 18.



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

View Cupping Scores
Sorting coffee cherry in Toraja, from my trip this year.
Country: Sulawesi, Indonesia
Grade: One
Region: Island of Sulawesi, Tana Toraja
Processing: Wet Process
Arrival Date: March 2010 Arrival
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 18+ screen
Varietal: Djember (S-795)
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / Floral and clean foresty flavors and aromas
Roast: City+ is ideal for the cup I describe, lighter than other Sulawesi coffees. This coffee can take darker roasts and develops a good chocolate bittersweet roast flavor.
Compare to: Expect something different here, a bit uncanny. It's not like a Sulawesi you have had before, yet it's roots are firmly planted in Sulawesi origin character. It has traces of Guatemala and Hawaii Kona.
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Sulawesi AA Wet-Process Toarco

Wet-process coffees from Sumatra or Sulawesi are rare. There are other Indonesia islands (Java, Timor, Flores) and sources farther up the island arc (Papua New Guinea) that do wet-processing. But Sumatra and Sulawesi are known for the Giling Basah (Wet-hulled) process that results in the heavy body, low acid cup profile tasters associate with the reason. This is an example of flavors from processing having a huge bearing on the cup flavors. Previous examples of wet-process Sumatra showed that when you lift that veil of "process flavor", there was little origin character, be it from the cultivar, the altitude, the micro-climate, or anything else, to speak of ... in other words, the coffee was incredibly boring. For those who dislike process flavors this always poses a problem; fruitiness from funky fermentation, or earthiness from the fact that, in Sulawesi and Sumatra, green coffee is dried directly on the ground/patio/tarp, with no protective shell or skin. So the question always in the back of my mind was this: are these inferior coffees that are being "flavored" by process, something we would not accept from any other origin. If we lift that veil of flavoring, would there indeed be a cup "signifying nothing." Well, to stand as clear proof that fear is unfounded, we offer a totally unconventional, fully washed (wet-process) coffee from the only long-established Estate in Sulawesi; PT Toarco Jaya. Relieve this coffee of the overlaying process flavor, and it soars! Clean, bright, sweet; things that only come with good handling, good altitude, and good cultivar. While it may be a flavor profile one expects from Guatemala, not Sulawesi, it might also prove to those who don't like the earthy funk of Indonesia coffee that they CAN find something extraordinary from this part of the world. I visited there late last year and was so impressed. Toarco Estate is located in Tana Toraja and ranges from 1000 to 1250 meters, but much of their coffee comes from higher-altitude smallholder farmers they work with, upward of 1500 meters. It measures 530 hectares, but 300 is planted in coffee while the rest is preserved as native forest. The coffee is grown under a shade-tree canopy which they are restoring to nearly original condition at this writing. As I mentioned, Toarco farm also purchases coffee from surrounding smallholder farms, and provides agronomic education to these farmers to make sure the strict quality measures are met (in particular, the purchase only of fully ripe, red coffee cherry, and exacting milling and sorting standards). All the cherry is processed at the Toarco wet mill the same day it comes in from the field, using traditional wet-process methods you would find in Central America or other areas with a washed coffee tradition. While this an unusual Sulawesi cup, it still has flavors that relate to other coffees of the region. The dry fragrance is floral, potent, dynamic and bright with dried orange peel and rose petal potpourri. Slight traces of fresh pine sap beneath the floral and citrus harken to the foresty character of Sulawesi. The wet aroma has the same super-fragrant potpourri character, with a slightly more herbal-floral aspect. In the cup, the clean and sweet character is so unique for this origin. The body is moderate, certainly less than the wet-hulled Sulawesi coffees, but suggestions of pine/juniper resinous flavors give an Indonesian twist to a profile that might otherwise be Guatemalan. While bright and dynamic, it has a a softer side too, characterized by the floral notes and balance; this dimension reminds me of Kona ... but this is far more complex and sweet than any Kona coffee. Perhaps the "island character" influence links the two, as marine climate patterns seem to be at play with both. The finish balances between the the floral and the foresty character I mentioned before. This AA preparation is, like all things from Toarco, expertly done. It is very large, rating more as a 19+ screen than an 18. We will also have a peaberry lot coming later, with the same cup character and ratings.



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

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sulawesi-Shunji Yoneda, right, Toarco VP, and Isao Miyake, Toarco agronomist, from my trip there last year.
Country: Sulawesi, Indonesia
Grade: One
Region: Island of Sulawesi, Tana Toraja
Processing: Wet Process
Arrival Date: March 2009 Arrival
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 18+ screen
Varietal: Djember (S-795)
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / Floral and clean foresty flavors and aromas
Roast: City+ is ideal for the cup I describe, lighter than other Sulawesi coffees. This coffee can take darker roasts and develops a good chocolate bittersweet roast flavor.
Compare to: Expect something different here, a bit uncanny. It's not like a Sulawesi you have had before, yet it's roots are firmly planted in Sulawesi origin character. It has traces of Guatemala and Hawaii Kona.
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Sulawesi Wet-Process Toarco Peaberry Feb 2010

Wet-process coffees from Sumatra or Sulawesi are rare. There are other Indonesia islands (Java, Timor, Flores) and sources farther up the island arc (Papua New Guinea) that do wet-processing. But Sumatra and Sulawesi are known for the Giling Basah (Wet-hulled) process that results in the heavy body, low acid cup profile tasters associate with the reason. This is an example of flavors from processing having a huge bearing on the cup flavors. Previous examples of wet-process Sumatra showed that when you lift that veil of "process flavor", there was little origin character, be it from the cultivar, the altitude, the micro-climate, or anything else, to speak of ... in other words, the coffee was incredibly boring. For those who dislike process flavors this always poses a problem; fruitiness from funky fermentation, or earthiness from the fact that, in Sulawesi and Sumatra, green coffee is dried directly on the ground/patio/tarp, with no protective shell or skin. So the question always in the back of my mind was this: are these inferior coffees that are being "flavored" by process, something we would not accept from any other origin. If we lift that veil of flavoring, would there indeed be a cup "signifying nothing." Well, to stand as clear proof that fear is unfounded, we offer a totally unconventional, fully washed (wet-process) coffee from the only long-established Estate in Sulawesi; PT Toarco Jaya. The operation is a partnership of a Japanese company and roaster. It's a unique flavor, and proves the potential of Sulawesi coffee: Strip off the overlaying process flavor, and it soars! Clean, bright, sweet; things that only come with good handling, good altitude, and good cultivar. While it may be a flavor profile one expects from Guatemala, not Sulawesi, it might also prove to those who don't like the earthy funk of Indonesia coffee that they CAN find something extraordinary from this part of the world. I visited there late last year and was so impressed. Toarco Estate is located in Tana Toraja and ranges from 1000 to 1250 meters, but much of their coffee comes from higher-altitude smallholder farmers they work with, upward of 1500 meters. It measures 530 hectares, but 300 is planted in coffee while the rest is preserved as native forest. The coffee is grown under a shade-tree canopy which they are restoring to nearly original condition at this writing. As I mentioned, Toarco farm also purchases coffee from surrounding smallholder farms, and provides agronomic education to these farmers to make sure the strict quality measures are met (in particular, the purchase only of fully ripe, red coffee cherry, and exacting milling and sorting standards). All the cherry is processed at the Toarco wet mill the same day it comes in from the field, using traditional wet-process methods you would find in Central America or other areas with a washed coffee tradition. While this an unusual Sulawesi cup, it still has flavors that relate to other coffees of the region. This is an earlier Peaberry lot we repackaged into our special bags to offer later. The dry fragrance is potent, with dynamic sweetness (Muscavado raw sugar) and brightness . In the wet aroma, slight traces of pine resin beneath the floral and citrus indicate the foresty character of Sulawesi. In the cup, the clean and sweet character is so unique for this origin. The body is moderate, certainly less than the wet-hulled Sulawesi coffees, but suggestions of pine/juniper resinous flavors give an Indonesian twist to a profile that might otherwise be Guatemalan. While bright and dynamic, it has a softer side too, characterized by the floral notes and balance. As it cools the coffee rounds out, has more body, and greater intensity, and greater sweetness. The finish balances between the the floral, sweet and the foresty character I mentioned before. This peaberry preparation is, like all things from Toarco, expertly done.



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

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Hand sorting of coffee at Toarco's mill, Pedermeran Estate, Toraja.
Country: Sulawesi
Grade: One
Region: Island of Sulawesi, Tana Toraja
Processing: Wet Process
Arrival Date: Late Feb 2010 Arrival (GrainPro Bag)
Appearance: .0 d/300gr, 17+ PB screen
Varietal: Djember (S-795)
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / Bright (for an Indonesia), sweet, floral and clean foresty flavors and aromas
Roast: City+ is ideal for the cup I describe, lighter than other Sulawesi coffees. This coffee can take darker roasts and develops a good chocolate bittersweet roast flavor.
Compare to: Expect something different here, a bit uncanny. It's not like a Sulawesi you have had before, yet it's roots are firmly planted in Sulawesi origin character. It has traces of Guatemala and Hawaii Kona.
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Sulawesi Wet-Process Toarco Flatbean

This is the traditional flatbean preparation of the Toarco coffee, which we have offered as Peaberry as well. Wet-process coffees from Sumatra or Sulawesi are rare. There are other Indonesia islands (Java, Timor, Flores) and sources farther up the island arc (Papua New Guinea) that do wet-processing. But Sumatra and Sulawesi are known for the Giling Basah (Wet-hulled) process that results in the heavy body, low acid cup profile tasters associate with the reason. This is an example of flavors from processing having a huge bearing on the cup flavors. Previous examples of wet-process Sumatra showed that when you lift that veil of "process flavor", there was little origin character, be it from the cultivar, the altitude, the micro-climate, or anything else, to speak of ... in other words, the coffee was incredibly boring. For those who dislike process flavors this always poses a problem; fruitiness from funky fermentation, or earthiness from the fact that, in Sulawesi and Sumatra, green coffee is dried directly on the ground/patio/tarp, with no protective shell or skin. So the question always in the back of my mind was this: are these inferior coffees that are being "flavored" by process, something we would not accept from any other origin. If we lift that veil of flavoring, would there indeed be a cup "signifying nothing." Well, to stand as clear proof that fear is unfounded, we offer a totally unconventional, fully washed (wet-process) coffee from the only long-established Estate in Sulawesi; PT Toarco Jaya. The operation is a partnership of a Japanese company and roaster. It's a unique flavor, and proves the potential of Sulawesi coffee: Strip off the overlaying process flavor, and it soars! Clean, bright, sweet; things that only come with good handling, good altitude, and good cultivar. While it may be a flavor profile one expects from Guatemala, not Sulawesi, it might also prove to those who don't like the earthy funk of Indonesia coffee that they CAN find something extraordinary from this part of the world. I visited there late last year and was so impressed. Toarco Estate is located in Tana Toraja and ranges from 1000 to 1250 meters, but much of their coffee comes from higher-altitude smallholder farmers they work with, upward of 1500 meters. Our lots come from these higher altitude regions. All the cherry is processed at the Toarco wet mill the same day it comes in from the field, using traditional wet-process methods you would find in Central America or other areas with a washed coffee tradition. While this an unusual Sulawesi cup, it still has flavors that relate to other coffees of the region. The dry fragrance is potent, with dynamic sweetness (Muscavado raw sugar) and brightness. In the wet aroma, slight traces of pine resin beneath the floral and citrus indicate the foresty character of Sulawesi. In the cup, the clean and sweet character is so unique for this origin. The body is moderate, certainly less than the wet-hulled Sulawesi coffees, but suggestions of pine/juniper resinous flavors give an Indonesian twist to a profile that might otherwise be Guatemalan. While bright and dynamic, it has a softer side too, characterized by the floral notes and balance. As it cools the coffee rounds out, has more body, and greater intensity, and greater sweetness. The finish balances between the floral, sweet and the foresty character I mentioned before.



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

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At the Toarco plantation nursery, new coffee seedlings for future generations.
Country: Sulawesi
Grade: Grade A and AA
Region: Island of Sulawesi, Tana Toraja
Processing: Wet Process
Arrival Date: Late Feb 2010 Arrival (GrainPro Bag)
Appearance: .0 d/300gr, 17-18+ screen
Varietal: Djember (S-795)
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / Bright (for an Indonesia), sweet, floral and clean foresty flavors and aromas
Roast: City+ is ideal for the cup I describe, lighter than other Sulawesi coffees. This coffee can take darker roasts and develops a good chocolate bittersweet roast flavor.
Compare to: Expect something different here, a bit uncanny. It's not like a Sulawesi you have had before, yet it's roots are firmly planted in Sulawesi origin character. It has traces of Guatemala and Hawaii Kona.
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Sulawesi Goo Goo Muck

What is bad coffee? Have we become so spoiled by great lots that we forget how good our home roasts are? What part of the picture might be eluding you, Mr and Mrs. Home Roaster, from the perspective of a buyer who must cup many awful coffees to find a gem? Well, it's not exactly like that ... let's say that I cup many mediocre and average coffees to find good ones. But occasionally I get a genuine stinker, offered to me as Specialty Coffee, that I am sure some roaster is buying as Specialty Coffee, and it is horrible. So I finally found a new "Thumbs Down" lot to provide a good "educational experience" in this respect. Indonesians range from the triple pick premium lots of Tawar, Iskandar and Blue Batak, loaded with rustic sweetness, to lots that have bittersweet earthy, to musty coffees with just rank bitterness. Technically, many coffees we accept as being "positive" earthy are in fact technically defective. But there is a consensus about "good" rustic flavors and bad over-the-edge rustic, ie: dirty swampy muddy tasting dreck. I would call it a fine line between the two, but a confusing distinction for many. So what I have dredged up, literally, is Swampy Sulawesi, a cup that perfectly embodies nasty algae-like, musty, decomposing swamp rot. Compare it to even the most funky Mandheling we stock (the "classic") or the Tawar or the Batak, or our good Sulawesi Gr. 1 and the difference will be clear, I hope. And to illustrate the point, as you sip it, consider that the seller of this coffee told me there is a roaster on the coast in California who features this as the "best Sulawesi in 20 years", letting you know what you just might get if you walk into their shop and order a cuppa. Oh joy! Seriously. it is hard to taste this coffee and chalk up the flavor to "a matter of taste". It is nasty, but necessary, to understand the difference between available Indonesia lots.





Country: Sulawesi
Grade: 1 !!!
Region: Sulawesi, Torajaland
Processing: Indonesia style Dry Process
Arrival Date: 2006
Appearance: Typical Grade 1 Appearance and Prep.
Varietal: Arabica
Intensity/Prime Attribute:
Roast: This coffee has a very light brown roast color even at FC roast. I would take it to the verge of 2nd crack so you can honestly judge the green coffee quality. At this stage, it will be a lighter brown than you might be used to, and still somewhat patchy in surface color and texture. This is not unusual for a Sulawesi, good or bad.
Compare to: If you like this coffee, don't tell anyone: the fact is, you might be part Klingon.
 
 
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Sulawesi Tana Toraja Ke'pe

Toraja coffees can come from anywhere in the Tana Toraja highlands, and sometimes they even come from outside the area and are blended with true Toraja coffees. In the very north of Toraja are the highest growing areas, like Pulu Pulu, and these coffees are brought by the farmers down to the local markets of Sapan, Minanga, Barrupu and the origin for this lot, Ke'pe, to sell to collectors for the larger mills. So Ke'pe represents one of the upstream points to separate coffees of regional quality before it is mixed to become a general "Toraja" coffee. While regions matter, much of the character of Sulawesi coffees is the result of the post-harvest process, the wet-hull method, called "Giling Basah". The dark, chaff-free appearance of the green is evidence, as well as low acidity, heavy body, and some of the muted, deep fruit notes. But with this lot, it is clear that starting with the higher-grown smallholder farms in the areas adjacent to Ke'pe, from the north of Toraja coffee growing area, means a true Toraja cup character and not a mix with coffees from the southern, lower areas. The dry fragrance isn't overwhelming, but has a lot of rustic sweetness as well as pungent spice in the darker roasts. The wet aroma fleshes out these qualities: dried plum and raisin pudding, peppery spice in the FC+ roast. The darker roast levels are where this coffee really hits it's stride: intense, thick oily body, dark brutish cup flavors, a bit foresty. It's also a clean cup, not musty, without dirty notes that bad Indo's can have, but by no means a wimpy cup either! The coffee remains darkly sweet, with caramelized brown sugar, into 2nd crack, and has no ashy roast flavors (well, not until you really burn it). The aftertaste has a pleasant, warm woody tone, with lingering caramelized sugar sweetness, and traces of fruit: berry, raisin bread, and just a bit of black currant. It's one of the best Indonesian coffees I have cupped at this FC+ roast level, with an intriguing relation between bittering roast notes and lingering sweetness.



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

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Toraja Jaya! Bukan Main! An inspirational plaster statue as you head to Toraja from Makassar.
Country: Sulawesi
Grade: One
Region: Sulawesi Selatan, Tana Toraja, Ke'pe area
Processing: Wet-Hulled (Giling Basah)
Arrival Date: October 2009 Arrival
Appearance: .6 d/300gr, 17-18 screen
Varietal: Djember (S-795)
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium-Bold Intensity / Thick, oily body, spice, rustic sweetness
Roast: Full City to Full City+. Lighter roasts taste a bit baked. FC+ is intense and complex.
Compare to: Wet-hulled Indonesia coffees such as North Sumatras and Aceh coffees. Full body, low acid, intense.
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Sulawesi Wet-Process Toarco Peaberry - April 2009

Wet-process coffees from Sumatra or Sulawesi are rare. There are other Indonesia islands (Java, Timor, Flores) and sources farther up the island arc (Papua New Guinea) that do wet-processing. But Sumatra and Sulawesi are known for the Giling Basah (Wet-hulled) process that results in the heavy body, low acid cup profile tasters associate with the reason. This is an example of flavors from processing having a huge bearing on the cup flavors. Previous examples of wet-process Sumatra showed that when you lift that veil of "process flavor", there was little origin character, be it from the cultivar, the altitude, the micro-climate, or anything else, to speak of ... in other words, the coffee was incredibly boring. For those who dislike process flavors this always poses a problem; fruitiness from funky fermentation, or earthiness from the fact that, in Sulawesi and Sumatra, green coffee is dried directly on the ground/patio/tarp, with no protective shell or skin. So the question always in the back of my mind was this: are these inferior coffees that are being "flavored" by process, something we would not accept from any other origin. If we lift that veil of flavoring, would there indeed be a cup "signifying nothing." Well, to stand as clear proof that fear is unfounded, we offer a totally unconventional, fully washed (wet-process) coffee from the only long-established Estate in Sulawesi; PT Toarco Jaya. The operation is a partnership of a Japanese company and roaster. It's a unique flavor, and proves the potential of Sulawesi coffee: Strip off the overlaying process flavor, and it soars! Clean, bright, sweet; things that only come with good handling, good altitude, and good cultivar. While it may be a flavor profile one expects from Guatemala, not Sulawesi, it might also prove to those who don't like the earthy funk of Indonesia coffee that they CAN find something extraordinary from this part of the world. I visited there late last year and was so impressed. Toarco Estate is located in Tana Toraja and ranges from 1000 to 1250 meters, but much of their coffee comes from higher-altitude smallholder farmers they work with, upward of 1500 meters. It measures 530 hectares, but 300 is planted in coffee while the rest is preserved as native forest. The coffee is grown under a shade-tree canopy which they are restoring to nearly original condition at this writing. As I mentioned, Toarco farm also purchases coffee from surrounding smallholder farms, and provides agronomic education to these farmers to make sure the strict quality measures are met (in particular, the purchase only of fully ripe, red coffee cherry, and exacting milling and sorting standards). All the cherry is processed at the Toarco wet mill the same day it comes in from the field, using traditional wet-process methods you would find in Central America or other areas with a washed coffee tradition. While this an unusual Sulawesi cup, it still has flavors that relate to other coffees of the region. This is an earlier Peaberry lot we repackaged into our special bags to offer later. The dry fragrance is potent, with dynamic sweetness (Muscavado raw sugar) and brightness . In the wet aroma, slight traces of pine resin beneath the floral and citrus indicate the foresty character of Sulawesi. In the cup, the clean and sweet character is so unique for this origin. The body is moderate, certainly less than the wet-hulled Sulawesi coffees, but suggestions of pine/juniper resinous flavors give an Indonesian twist to a profile that might otherwise be Guatemalan. While bright and dynamic, it has a a softer side too, characterized by the floral notes and balance. As it cools the coffee rounds out, has more body, and greater intensity, and greater sweetness. The finish balances between the the floral, sweet and the foresty character I mentioned before. This peaberry preparation is, like all things from Toarco, expertly done.



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

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Shunji Yoneda, right, Toarco VP, and Isao Miyake, Toarco agronomist, from my trip there last year.
Country: Sulawesi
Grade: One
Region: Island of Sulawesi, Tana Toraja
Processing: Wet Process
Arrival Date: April 2009 Arrival (Lined Bag)
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17+ PB screen
Varietal: Djember (S-795)
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / Bright (for an Indonesia), sweet, floral and clean foresty flavors and aromas
Roast: City+ is ideal for the cup I describe, lighter than other Sulawesi coffees. This coffee can take darker roasts and develops a good chocolate bittersweet roast flavor.
Compare to: Expect something different here, a bit uncanny. It's not like a Sulawesi you have had before, yet it's roots are firmly planted in Sulawesi origin character. It has traces of Guatemala and Hawaii Kona.
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Sulawesi Enrekang "Mount Alla"

This is a regional lot from South Sulawesi, from the area called Enrekang, grown on the slopes of Mount Alla. As happens often in Indonesia, the people of the region are also the Enrekang (or Endekan), and live a very traditional agricultural lifestyle. They also happen to have coffee from especially high altitude, and a separate coffee mill serving just this area. So for the first time this is a separate and distinct lot from this one processing station, rather than having it blended with other lower grown coffees. It is also a traditional "semi-washed" Indonesia process lot, meaning that it has the earth tones, rustic chocolate notes, low acidity and dense body that is anticipated in Sulawesi coffees (and has been missing in the clean, bright lots of recent years). I appreciate both styles of Sulawesi, but those who look for something closer to Sumatras will enjoy this Sulawesi Enrekang. The dry fragrance has plenty of earthy chocolate, but also a black pepper note, and a dark caramel sweetness. The cup is dense, chocolaty, low in acidity, and at first it seems a bit mild in the aftertaste. As it cools it "opens up" more, and the body seems opaque and syrupy in texture. It's sweet in that rustic, Indonesia kinda way, butterscotch-like. It's a good deep-toned cup. For the finish I jotted down these terms: Syrupy, Dense, Bittersweet. While having earth/humus aspects, it's also clean (if that can be, without contradiction). On the one hand, there is dirty, earthiness and on the other there is the smell of fresh dark earth, forest floor aromas, as we have said before. If the distinction is difficult to imagine, this cup of coffee can help!





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Traditional Tongkonan houses in Torajaland, from my trip last November.
Country: Sulawesi
Grade: One
Region: Island of Sulawesi, Enrekang district, Mt. Alla subregion
Processing: Wet-Hulled (Giling Basah)
Arrival Date: January 2009 Arrival
Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 17-18 screen
Varietal: Djember (S-795), Ateng
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium-Bold intensity / Chocolate, spice, earth and funky sweetness
Roast: Full City is ideal for the cup I describe. This coffee can take darker roasts and develops a good chocolate bittersweet roast flavor.
Compare to: Moderate acidity, syrupy body, earth and chocolate smells like Indonesia to me!
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Sulawesi Toraja Sapan-Minanga

Toraja coffees can come from anywhere in the Tana Toraja highlands, and sometimes they even come from outside the area and are blended with true Toraja coffees. In the very north of Toraja are the highest growing areas, like Pulu Pulu, and these coffees are brought by the farmers down to the local markets of Sapan and Minanga to sell to collectors for the larger mills. So Sapan and Minanga represent the best collection points for the highest grown Toraja lots, and what we have here is a coffee exclusively from those two local markets. A lot of the cup quality of Sulawesi coffees is the result of the post-harvest process, the wet-hull method, called "Giling Basah". The dark, chaff-free appearance of the green is evidence, as well as low acidity, heavy body, and some of the muted, deep fruit notes. But with this lot, it is clear that starting with higher altitude coffee from these areas in the extreme north of Toraja is a factor in the final cup. In particular, the bean seems to have more density, resulting in sweet roast flavors well into 2nd crack. The dry fragrance isn't overwhelming, but has a lot of rustic sweetness, and pungent spice in the darker roasts. The wet aroma fleshes out these qualities: dried plum and raisin pudding, peppery spice in the FC+ roast. The darker roast levels are where this coffee really hits it's stride: intense, thick oily body, dark brutish cup flavors. It's also a astoundingly clean cup, not musty, without dirty earth notes, but by no means a wimpy cup either! The coffee remains darkly sweet, with caramelized brown sugar, into 2nd crack, and has no ashy roast flavors (well, not until you really burn it). The aftertaste has a pleasant, warm woody tone, with lingering caramelized sugar sweetness, and traces of fruit: berry, raisin bread, black currant. It's one of the best Indonesian coffees I have cupped at this FC+ roast level, with an intriguing relation between bittering roast notes and lingering sweetness.





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Rocky pediment in Sulawesi, Tana Toraja, from my trip in late 2008.
Country: Sulawesi
Grade: One
Region: Island of Sulawesi, Tana Toraja, Sapan & Minanga areas
Processing: Wet-Hulled (Giling Basah)
Arrival Date: December 2008 Arrival
Appearance: .6 d/300gr, 17-18 screen
Varietal: Djember (S-795)
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium-Bold Intensity / Thick, oily body, spice, rustic sweetness
Roast: Full City to Full City+. Lighter roasts taste a bit baked. FC+ is intense and complex.
Compare to: Wet-hulled Indonesia coffees such as North Sumatras and Aceh coffees. Full body, low acid, intense.
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Sulawesi Grade One Toraja

It's a bit like Prince: The coffee formerly known as Celebes Kalossi, but it no longer goes by that name. Don't call it Kalossi, at least not while traveling the island. They will scowl. Kalossi was the colonial Dutch name for Toraja, an incredible mystical, densely-forested region with weird giant bats hanging from trees, and ancestral homes shaped like ships. The cup character of the best Toraja rivals the best Sumatran coffees. The deep-toned flavors and maple-syrupy body sets it apart, and results in a stunning, clearer taste profile (but less sheer power and earthiness) that a Dry-Processed Mandheling. My choice for Moka-Java Blends, with 50% Yemeni and 50% Sulawesi, or 50% Sulawesi and 50% Ethiopian Dry Process (Sidamo or Harar). This coffee is the highest grade of preparation I have seen from a Grade One Sulawesi. It is basically without chaff! So the added perk is that you will have very little chaff come off the coffee during the roast process. Sulawesi makes a great single-origin espresso too. It has such a solid balance and baritone-weighted flavor profile that, roasted to a light Vienna, makes for a great Indonesian espresso. The supply of Sulawesi is tight this year and prices are up. Unfortunately, quality is more scarce too. Early in the Sulawesi crop, I cupped some of the worst samples I have ever had the misfortune of tasting. I thought maybe this year would be a total bust. But along came a new offering from a different source, and I was saved from explaining over and over why we don't have Sulawesi this year. And we are back to where we were a few years ago in terms of cup character. This is a traditional semi-washed lot as defined in Indonesia. It's something between a Brazil-type dry-process and a pulp-natural coffee. It is not dried in the skin, but is dried with all the fruit on the parchment layer of the coffee, giving the same effect as a intact dried coffee cherry process. Often, the small farmer will pulp the coffee, and half-dry it, delivering to the mill to finish the drying. Here we have a low-acid, deep, intense Sulawesi, with just a tad of brightness to balance the flavor. This is a rustic cup, and in a way it needs a FC+ roast to tame it a bit. There are subtle notes of roasted macademia nut, and fruit, but it is pungent, foresty, earthy, bold. At this FC+ roast stage, the coffee has a dark chocolate roast taste with nut hints, and outstanding body. There's a strong tobacco note, which folds nicely into the pungent roast flavors of a Full City + roast. There's a mossy, foresty aspect here, wet earth, humus, a walk in the woods. Sounds corny but it is true! But all in all, this is more of a dry process, classic, Sumatra-type cup than we have had in recent years, and Sulawesi fans everywhere should be pleased about that!





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Country: Indonesia, Sulawesi
Grade: One
Region: Torajaland, Sulawesi Island(formerly Kalossi)
Processing: Semi-Washed
Arrival Date: April 2008 Arrival
Appearance: .8 d/300gr, 17-18 screen
Varietal: Sumatra-based Typica Cultivar
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Bold intensity / Deep body, rustic and foresty cup flavors.
Roast: Full City+ is ideal for the cup I describe. This coffee needs a heavy roast treatment.
Compare to: A rustic, natural, dry-process Indonesian cup profile. Fans of natural dry process coffees love it, fans of the clean cup will find disagreeable wet-earth/mossy hints.
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