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Sumatra

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Sumatra Lintong Dolok Sanggul -READY

Dolok Sanggul is a city within the coffee growing area we refer to as Lintong. Lintong Nihota is the town that has become synonymous with the entire southern part of Lake Toba area most of the coffee from the southern shores are sold as such. Lake Toba defines the landscape of the area, the largest volcanic crater lake in the world, and the result of the largest volcanic event on earth in the last 25 million years! It is huge, and the coffees from the north and eastern shores are quite different from the Lintong coffees. Dolok Sanggul is a local marketplace for coffees from the area; once a week the farmers gather to sell their parchment coffee to trusted vendors, who "collect" it on behalf of specific mills, or as freelancers. The mill we work with has certain farmers from higher altitude areas, and who produce a very clean, high-quality parchment coffee. That's part of the reason this has great cup character ... the other is special milling and sorting practices. We offer the top grade, specially- prepared Lintong coffees in honor of the Toba Batak people. Blue Batak is a special preparation, without the usual split beans, broken pieces and crud found in standard Sumatras. It is density sorted and triple-hand-sorted. And since my latest obsession is inspecting coffee under ultraviolet light while grading them, this lot still shows the normal wet-hulled issues, but is infinitely better than most Grade 1 "Mandhelings" and the like.

The dry fragrance has chocolate and caramel biscuit tones, but with a slight herbal and graham cracker graininess in the light roast. Lintongs have a reputation for herbal or herbacious notes; I would say Dolok Sanggul classifies as a Lintong in this respect, but is less herbal than most Lintong coffees. Surprising fruits come forward in the wet aroma, even a momentary whiff of dried plum and fig, as well as dark chocolate cake. The cup has a great rustic sweetness, tree bark, cinnamon stick, black tea, and strong mulling spice in the finish. Light roasts have a malty roast taste, thyme herb, fading to chocolate with plum/prune fruit. Full City roast level is more sagey, with dark malt syrup, and a thick slab of fruity chocolate flavor. The cup is more aggressive than the other Lintong lots we have this year, even though they come from areas that are very close to each other. As mentioned, it is also has less of the herbal notes in the cup flavor than other Lintong coffees, which I think makes it a better choice for use in espresso. In fact, the shots I have made from Dolok Sanggul have been really fantastic, like no other Sumatra I can think of ... but only when rested 5 days or more after roasting. It needs rest! Another roast note: many roasters over-roast Sumatras looking for surface color similar to other origins. They don't color the same as other origins, so you might end up darker than your target quite easily. Lighter Sumatra roasts can actually be more intense!



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

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Ateng coffee cherry, near Dolok Sanggul, Toba area, Sumatra
Country: Indonesia, Sumatra
Grade: One
Region: Dolok Sanggul, Lintong Area, N. Sumatra
Processing: Wet-hulled (Giling Basah)
Arrival Date: August 2011 Arrival GrainPro Bag
Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen
Varietal: Ateng, Djember, TimTim
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium-Bold intensity / Rustic sweetness, chocolate roast taste, slight slight herbal notes, fruit and spice
Roast: City+ to FC+ to Vienna. I preferred Full City to Full City+ in my tests. But many roasters over-roast Sumatras looking for surface color similar to other origins. Lighter Sumatra roasts can actually be more intense!
Compare to: Different than most Lintong coffees: Balanced chocolate notes with long rustic sweetness in the finish.
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Sumatra Onan Ganjang Cultivar

Onan Ganjang is a town and sub-district in the Lintong area, on the southern shores of the huge volcanic cratar lake, Laut Toba. Coffees from this area have a specific cup profile that is different from Aceh coffees, from the far north. The coffees here are of mixed heritage; a few Bergendal Typicas exist mixed in with the predominate Ateng catimor types. This lot represents a third type, Onan Ganjang, named for the locality where it was widely planted (also sp. Onang Ganjang), but referring to a specific cultivar. To be clear, it's not a Typica type, and it could be a local mutation crossed between Hibrido de Timor and Ateng. But the tree itself is distinctive, healthy, disease-resistant, and produces well. In the cup, the difference is subtle but clear as well; classic flavors, less herbal than other Lintong lots, balanced. This is another Blue Batak slection, which refers to the highest quality parchment coffee and best milling and sorting techniques. Lintong coffees are farmed by the Batak peoples that are the indigenous tribe that works the coffee in this area. We offer the top grade, specially- prepared Lintong coffees as Blue Batak in honor of the Toba Batak people. Blue Batak is a near-zero defect prepartion, without the usual split beans, broken pieces and crud found in standard Sumatras. It is carefully density sorted and triple-hand-sorted.

The dry fragrance is potent and has hints of a strong honey-caramel sweetness, floral-herbal notes, banana, and tropical fruits, especially at lighter roast levels. It shifts to chocolate-caramel at FC roast, but is still one of the sweetest-smelling Sumatras of recent memory. In the wet aroma dark caramel, chocolate, molasses and savory miso broth; there is no doubt this is a Sumatra! But it is clean too, not musty ... no dirty earth scents. The cup is very syrupy, with cherry cola and sarsaparilla notes, fading into cocoa bitterness with a clean earthy twist. The light roast has honey graham cracker sweetness, malt sugars, butterscotch, and an interesting herbal finish. It has heathery flowers in the lighter roast, but as a Full City roast I think it's a better flavor profile over all, with roast flavors balanced between cola-caramel and chocolate, and darkly outlined fruits (plum, and some orange). The mouthfeel is syrupy and substantial. There's also an essence of aromatic wood, slightly smokey cedar, in the finish with sweet tobacco and clove spices. It's a classic, aggressive, deep Sumatra flavor profile!



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

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The leaves of the distinct Onan Ganjang tree, North Sumatra.
Country: Sumatra
Grade: One
Region: Lintong Area, N. Sumatra
Processing: Wet-hulled (Giling Basah)
Arrival Date: August 2011 Arrival GrainPro Bag
Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen
Varietal: 100% Onan Ganjang
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Bold intensity / Slightly herbal, rustic sweetness.
Roast: City+ to FC+ to Vienna. FC was my favorite
Compare to: It has a great rustic sweetness, complex spice and earth-toned flavors. A classic Lintong, less herbal than others.
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Sumatra Dry-Hulled Aceh Bukit

This coffee represents an intervention in the parchment coffee buying process in Takengon, where wet parchment from the farms is bought by mills, dried to 25% moisture or so, and then "wet-hulled" to create the typical dark green Sumatra coffee. Because wet-hulled (called Giling Basah) coffee is laid out to dry after the parchment layer is peeled off, it is exposed to all kinds of possible taints. Under the best conditions, the green coffee is laid on raised beds or clean concrete patios. But in smaller mills and home-processing, it is laid on driveways, on dirty tarps, or directly on hard dirt plots. Nowhere else in the world is unprotected green coffee dried like this. The Bukit project starts with the same small-holder coffee, purchased selectively from this specific Aceh subdistrict, then dried in parchment all the way to 11% moisture. (Bukit means "hill" in Indonesian). This process is the same way you would dry a coffee in Guatemala, in Colombia, or in Kenya. Then it is hulled at the dry mill as any other coffee would be. We could call this semi-washed perhaps, but we can't be sure if the coffee was fermented by the farmer, or brought with a percentage of fruit still on the parchment, a "honey coffee" as we call it in Brazil or Central America. "Dry-Hulled" really describes the primary difference between this and other Sumatra coffees. And it's a difference you will find right away in the cup.

This coffee is distinct from other Indonesias, like a hybrid between a Sumatra and a Central America coffee. It has the brighter, lively character of other origins, the aromatics, but still retains a degree of its wild Sumatra roots too. Like other Sumatra coffees, it is also best at darker roast levels, Full City and beyond. The dry fragrance at Full City has vivid chocolate biscotti notes, as well as hints of fruit. The slightly winey fruit notes really assert themselves in the wet aroma, melon-like and even a bit of durian. The cup has a fruited bittersweet balance, with chocolate biscuit roast taste, and plum in the finish. The body is less weighty than a wet-hull Sumatra, but still quite dense. Sweet spices come out as the cup cools off a bit, cinnamon, fresh ginger, a bit of clove and coriander. As the cup cools more, has more body, rustic hot chocolate, spices, nut: it reminds me of Mexican hot chocolate. It's not a super sweet coffee, more aggressively bittersweet rather. This coffee works really nice as Single Origin Espresso at a light Vienna roast level, roasted into 2nd crack.



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

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Aceh, so easy to mis-read as "Ache"
Country: Sumatra
Grade: 1
Region: Bukit, Takengon, Aceh, North Sumatra
Processing: Dry-hulled
Arrival Date: August 2011 Arrival, GrainPro
Appearance: 1.2 d/300gr, 16-17 Screen
Varietal: Jember, Typica, Ateng, TimTim
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild-Medium intensity / Chocolate biscuit, complex spices, fruit, brightness (relative to Sumatras)
Compare to: A cleaner cup profile than typical Sumatra coffees, brighter relative to other Indonesia coffees, but still very Sumatra-like in character. Similar to our wet-process Sulawesi coffee.
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Sumatra FTO Mandheling SWP Decaf

Sumatra coffees can be very interesting when decaffeinated, because the non-decaf lots have so little acidity and so much body that it pairs well with the water process decaf method. They cup more "true to the original" than other origins sent for decaffeination. Here we have a Fair trade and Organic certified lot of Mandheling type coffee with strong Sumatra flavor profile. Remember, Mandheling is a trade name for Sumatra coffees, not a particular region. But this coffee originates in the Lake Tawar-Takengon area of Gayo area, Aceh district. It is from Koperasi Gayo Linge Organic Coffee Cooperative, with over 1,000 smallhomder farmers from villages in Bener Meriah Regency. I cupped quite a few Fair Trade, Organic and FTO lots to pick out this one, which is I feel survived the decaffeination process intact. The results of my roasts from C+ to FC+ are impressive; not so much when the cup is hot (perhaps it loses a step on the non-decaf Sumatra in this respect), but as it cools. It has great espresso use to create low-caf or decaf blends with body and depth. I like it as a straight decaf espresso too when roasted about 20 seconds into 2nd crack. It is very much a Sumatra cup profile but a bit cleaner and less earthy than its non-decaf Mandheling counterpart. 48 hours of rest after roasting is recommended!

The cup has low acidity, but bold foresty and earthy Sumatra flavors. The dry fragrance and wet aroma have an abundance of this earth-toned character, but there is a rustic sweetness too, as well as herbal hints. The cup has a caramelly-earthy sweetness, and thick, dense body. As it cools, a rustic sweetness emerges that reminds one of sorghum syrup, if you have ever tasted that (like a malt syrup with an earthy aspect). There is also a molasses note at Full City roast level. Again, resting after roasting is very important to the cup quality here: 48 hours minimum.





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Red coffee cherry in Sumatra, from my last trip there.
Country: Sumatra
Grade: 1
Region: Bener Meriah, Aceh, North Sumatra
Processing: Semi-washed, then water process decaf
Arrival Date: June 2011 Arrival
Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen
Varietal: Typica (Sumatra), Catimor
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / Rustic sweetness, low acid, body
Roast: Full City to Full City+.
Compare to: Low acidity, heavy body, good rustic sweetness.
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Sumatra Grade 1 Mandheling

Sumatran coffees can be the most earthy, low-toned, and rustic of the Indonesian coffee-growing world, flavors entirely sensed in the anterior regions of the palate. The flavor of Sumatra coffees like this is due to the influence of the varietal grown there, the climate, how the coffee is processed and dried. 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 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 while the coffee has high humidity. When sold to the mill, it might be dried a little more, but basically it is hulled out of the parchment skin while it is still wet; hence the term wet-hulled (called Giling Basah). 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. It takes some work to find a good Mandheling type coffee, one that doesn't "cross the line" from pleasant earthy tones into the realm of dirty flavors (or worse of all, musty or moldy notes). Our Grade 1 Sumatran Mandheling coffee is from the region of Lake Takengon. (Mandheling is used as a trade name for these coffees but is not a region ...it is a Sumatran ethnic group.) You can't buy Sumatras based entirely on the appearance of the green coffee: certain odd looking beans can contribute to the pleasantly aggressive cup profile, and certain over-prepared lots can be flat and without proper Sumatra character. You might want to pick out the lightest under-roasted beans after roasting, but don't over-cull the coffee or you can remove some of the positive qualities from the cup, and it will end up tasting flat and boring.

This is a deep, brooding, bass-note coffee, with an undertone of mildly earthy dark chocolate. The dry fragrance has a chocolate bittersweet taste, and just a trace of foresty earth and floral herbs. The wet aroma has a bit of peppery pungency, molasses, and Ricola-like dark herbal notes. The cup has layered chocolate roast taste, moderate brightness, and thick body. This lot is very nice because it has a hint of fruit too: mango/peach. The finish has a slight dryness and bittersweet quality, reminiscent of Bakerís Chocolate. There's a clove spice note that emerges as the cup cools. I am recommending darker roasts here, which highlight body and chocolate; Full City+ a few snaps into 2nd crack was my favorite. Fruited notes are best at City+, and are obscured when going darker, so a lighter roast is also an option for a different flavor profile.





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Longberry Sumatra coffee right after wet-hulled (before drying). Aceh
Country: Sumatra
Grade: 1
Region: North Sumatra - Aceh
Processing: Wet-hulled (Giling Basah)
Arrival Date: May 2011 Arrival
Appearance: 1.8 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen
Varietal: Bergendahl, Djember, Ateng, Catimor, Java
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium to Bold / Body, chocolate, low acidity
Roast: Full City+. This years Sumatra crop can be roasted on either side of 2nd crack. It works great for darker roasts and blends too. Sumatra appears lighter to the eye than the actual degree of roast, when compared to other coffees visually. People tend to prefer more roast on this coffee.
Compare to: Powerful Indonesians, low acidity, earthy, deep flavors
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Sumatra Grade 1 Mandheling

Sumatran coffees can be the most earthy, low-toned, and rustic of the Indonesian coffee-growing world, flavors entirely sensed in the anterior regions of the palate. The flavor of Sumatra coffees like this is due to the influence of the varietal grown there, the climate, how the coffee is processed and dried. 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 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 while the coffee has high humidity. When sold to the mill, it might be dried a little more, but basically it is hulled out of the parchment skin while it is still wet; hence the term wet-hulled (called Giling Basah). 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. It takes some work to find a good Mandheling type coffee, one that doesn't "cross the line" from pleasant earty tones into the realm of dirty flavors (or worse of all, musty or moldy notes). Our Grade 1 Sumatran Mandheling coffee from the region of Lake Takengon. (Mandheling is used as a trade name for these coffees but is not a region ...it is a Sumatra ethnic group.) You can't buy Sumatras based entirely on the appearance of the green coffee: certain odd looking beans can contribute to the pleasantly aggressive cup profile, and certain over-prepared lots can be flat and without proper Sumatra character. You might want to pick out the lightest under-roasted beans after roasting, but don't over-cull the coffee or you can remove some of the positive qualities from the cup, and it will end up tasting flat and boring.

This is a deep, brooding, bass-note coffee, with and undertone of mildly earthy dark chocolate. The dry fragrance has a chocolate bittersweet taste, and just a trace of foresty earth and floral herbs. The wet aroma has a bit of peppery pungency, molasses, and Ricola-like dark herbal notes. The cup has layered chocolate roast taste, moderate brightness, thick body. This lot is very nice because it has a hint of fruit too, mango/peach. The finish has a slight dryness and bittersweet quality, reminiscent of Bakers Chocolate. There's a clove spice note that emerges as the cup cools. I am recommending darker roasts here which highlight body and chocolate; Full City+ a few snaps into 2nd crack was my favorite. Fruited notes are best at City+, and are obscured when going darker, so a lighter roast is also an option for a different flavor profile.





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An old, rangey Djember tree in Sumatra.
Country: Sumatra
Grade: 1
Region: North Sumatra - Aceh
Processing: Wet-hulled (Giling Basah)
Arrival Date: March 2011 Arrival
Appearance: 1.8 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen
Varietal: Bergendahl, Djember, Ateng, Catimor, Java
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium to Bold / Body, chocolate, low acidity
Roast: Full City+. This years Sumatra crop can be roasted on either side of 2nd crack. It works great for darker roasts and blends too. Sumatra appears lighter to the eye than the actual degree of roast, when compared to other coffees visually. People tend to prefer more roast on this coffee.
Compare to: Powerful Indonesians, low acidity, earthy, deep flavors
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Sumatra Lintong Nihota KVW Decaf

KVW is the German decaffeinator using the MC process under the strictest guidelines (much more so that US-processed decafs). This is a unique decaf lot because it starts with specific Sumatra Lintong, that already has some interesting defined character of its own. And as a decaf coffee, this Lintong maintains these unique roast flavors, just as in non-decafs the Blue Batak or the Lake Toba have rustic sweetness that is so different from classic Mandheling coffees. I thought this coffee really had pronounced "origin character." The dry fragrance is caramelly, almost like butterscotch, with a interesting chocolate biscotti quality. The wet aroma has a deep-toned sweetness, mollasses and caramel candy notes. The cup is (again) very caramelly, with medium body (I anticipate something thicker, but it does have a certain dense texture to it). The acidity is low, and there's a certain earthy and woody quality, the later reminding me of sandalwood. As it cools the sweetness turns to a medium malt syrup, and just a touch of sweet hay smell. In the lighter roasts, the finish has a lingering toasted grain note, while darker roasts develop some milk chocolate.





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Ateng cultivar coffee shrub in Lintong area
Country: Sumatra
Grade: One
Region: Lintong, Lake Toba Area, North Sumatra
Processing: Wet-Hulled (Giling Basah)
Arrival Date: January 2010Arrival
Appearance: .6 d/300gr, 16-18 Screen
Varietal: Ateng, Djember, TimTim
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / Caramel sweetness with rustic notes
Roast: Full City to Full City+.
Compare to: A silky, heavy body cup with extremely low acidity. Blend with a Ethiopia Decaf 50-50 to make a balanced Moka Java type blend.
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Sumatra Grade 1 Mandheling Feb 2010

Sumatran coffees can be the most earthy, low-toned, and rustic of the Indonesian coffee-growing world. Low-acid, deep, complex; it is entirely sensed in the anterior regions of the palate. Our Grade 1 Sumatran Mandheling coffee from the region of Lake Takengon (Mandheling is not really a region ...it is a Sumatran ethnic group) has a heavy body (dry-processing aids this) and a complex earthy flavor. It has a pleasing, tangy bittersweet and aggressive musty twist in the flavor which makes it so popular among fans of the darker roast. Sumatras are earthy to varying degrees. It's Sumatra, it's great, and when it is a really good lot (and not past crop!) it always is: what more can be said. This coffee is basically dry processed, so I would not cull out odd-looking beans before roasting ...you will be surprised how well things work out in the end. You can't buy Sumatras based on the appearance of the green coffee: certain odd looking beans contribute to the pleasantly aggressive cup profile, and certain over-prepared lots can be flat and without proper Sumatra character. You might want to pick out light under-roasted beans after roasting, but I choose not to do that either. Finding good lots of Mandheling is difficult, especially now that the demand is high. Still, it is ubiquitous. Anyone can stock a Sumatra -just call any broker and buy a bag. But getting a really good lot takes a lot of cupping and a good sense of timing. The best Sumatras usually aren't the first arrivals of the new season, nor the last, but exactly where the crop quality will peak is hard to say. Actually the crop starts arriving in November or so but earliest lots were not good- and in fact it appears now that the exporters are blending old crop and new crop lots in the early shipments -an unsavory practice. We wait for the "peak of the crop" to arrive for the best cup quality, and this arrival was exactly that (a bit later than peak, actually). This coffee graded very well, had a low defect count (which can be very high with Sumatra coffees), and a classic cup profile.

This is a deep, brooding, bass-note coffee, with and undertone of mildly earthy dark chocolate. The dry fragrance has a chocolate custard sweetness, and just a trace of foresty earth and floral herbs. The wet aroma has a bit of peppery pungency, a butterscotch and molasses sweetness, and Ricola-like dark herbal notes. The cup has rich and layered chocolate roast taste, moderate brightness, thick body. This lot is very nice because it has moderate fruited sweetness too, mango and baked peaches. The finish has a slight dryness and bittersweet quality, reminiscent of Bakers Chocolate. There's a clove spice note that emerges as the cup cools; very nice! I am recommending darker roasts here which highlight body and chocolate; Full City+ a few snaps into 2nd crack was my favorite. Fruited notes are best at City+, and are obscured when going darker, so a lighter roast is also an option for a different flavor profile.





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An old, rangey Djember tree in Sumatra.
Country: Sumatra
Grade: 1
Region: North Sumatra - Aceh
Processing: Wet Hulled
Arrival Date: February 2010 Arrival
Appearance: 1.8 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen
Varietal: Bergendahl, Djember, Ateng, Catimor, Java
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium to Bold / Body, chocolate, low acidity
Roast: Full City+. This years Sumatra crop can be roasted on either side of 2nd crack. It works great for darker roasts and blends too. Sumatra appears lighter to the eye than the actual degree of roast, when compared to other coffees visually. People tend to prefer more roast on this coffee.
Compare to: Powerful Indonesians, low acidity, earthy, deep flavors
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Sumatra Blue Batak Tarbarita Peaberry

This is a peaberry preparation of the Blue Batak Lintong-area coffee. Lintong coffees are from Sumatra, the island that is politically and geographically part of Indonesia. Lintong Nihota is the town that has become synonymous with the entire southern part of Lake Toba area. Lake Toba defines the landscape of the area, the largest volcanic crater lake in the world, and the result of the largest volcanic event on earth in the last 25 million years! It is huge, and the coffees from the north and eastern shores are quite different from the Lintong coffees. Lintong coffees are farmed by the Batak peoples that are the indigenous tribe that works the coffee in this area. We offer the top grade, specially- prepared Lintong coffees as Blue Batak in honor of the Toba Batak people.

I find Sumatras like this more complex in the lighter roasts than in the usual darker roasts they receive. The main reason is that many commercial roasters use color and surface texture as indicators of roast level. The peaberry has a different roast dynamic, and seems to be a more dense bean that the flats. (Sumatra is known as a fairly "soft" bean, overall). The Tarbarita has a complex aroma, with rustic sweetness, chocolate, honey-hickory, and savory herbal notes. There's sweet sarsaparilla and root beer scents in the wet aroma, caramel and butterscotch, darker malty scents, and pungent spice. My lightest roast was a bit too light (City, just through first crack and stopped) and it has a tomato stem smell - so make sure you allow the roast to progress a bit beyond City (unless you love tomato in your coffee)! At City+ the sweetness reminds me of chicory root, molasses and sorghum syrup, laced with clove and cinnamon. It's definitely a notch sweeter than other Lintong coffees. The body is lighter that the non-peaberry Blue Batak lot, but still quite syrupy and substantial. And the cup a bit brighter and more lively than most Sumatras I cup here. There's a dark malty note, as well as caramelized sugars and butterscotch with a rustic overlay. The long finish has a nice cinnamon-laced tea note that I find very pleasing, and hints of aromatic wood, cedar and cinnamon bark, come through.



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

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A ''peaberry tree'' that a Lintong farmer showed me. Indeed, most cherries were peaberry!
Country: Sumatra
Grade: One
Region: Lintong Nihota, Lake Toba Area, N. Sumatra
Processing: Wet-hulled
Arrival Date: July 2010 Arrival
Appearance: .6 d/300gr, 16+ PB screen
Varietal: Djember, Ateng, TimTim
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / Complex aromas, rustic sweetness, spice and tea.
Roast: Full City roast is recommended here.
Compare to: Complex, sweet, rustic, spicy Indonesia flavor profile, brighter than other Sumatra coffees.
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Sumatra Classic Mandheling

Classic Mandheling, the name seems less suited to any coffee from Sumatra these days. Why? 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 near Takengon, the city on the shores of Lake Tawar in the Gayo area of Aceh. And it has "classic" Sumatra character, that reverberant, deep-toned, mildly earthy, low acid heavy body cup. This sub region has unique plant material too; our classic comes from trees that predominately have large cherries, resulting in 18-19 screen green coffee. This coffee is grown by smallholder farmers and when I visited there it was clear that the trees were unique in form and the very large cherries. Whether this is a TimTim, Ateng or Djember cultivar is unknown at this point, but I walked the farms with Andy Irham and his father, local Takengon coffee millers who source this lot for us, and they believe this is a local mutation of old seed stock from the early days of coffee in the Gayo area. What I have found consistently is a great flavor profile; aggressive, yet with a foresty sweetness too, hints of earth, but not dirty or musty.

The fragrance from the dry grounds has semi-sweet chocolate roast tones (FC+) with woody tree bark hints, earth, 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 and black cherry. There is black pepper in the finish, as well as earthy tones, mossy, 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. There is a limited amount of this coffee this season, and the appearance in green is not good. It is a very large bean coffee when roasted, and green much of it has splits and is flattened! But it roasts beautifully and the cup is all there ... so that is what counts.





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Typical uneven ripening of coffee cherry, from one of the smallholder plots that grows coffee for the Classic lot.
Country: Sumatra
Grade: One
Region: Takengon Gayo area, Aceh
Processing: Wet Hulled
Arrival Date: October 2010 Arrival
Appearance: .6 d/300gr, 18-19+
Varietal: Ateng, Djember, TimTim
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium to Bold / Heavy Body, foresty notes, low acidity
Roast: Full City+. Sumatra can be roasted on either side of 2nd crack. It works great for darker roasts and blends too. Sumatra appears lighter to the eye than the actual degree of roast, when compared to other coffees visually. People tend to prefer more roast on this coffee, but I enjoy it at a City+ stage (properly rested for 24 hours) where the surface is dry looking and a bit variegated (unsmooth and patchy color).
Compare to: "Mandheling" coffees of the best caliber, but truly this special large bean coffee from an old tree form is a notch above. At darker roasts this coffee is preferred for espresso uses over the Lintong lots we offer.
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Sumatra Classic Mandheling

Classic Mandheling, the name seems less suited to any coffee from Sumatra these days. Why? 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 near Takengon, the city on the shores of Lake Tawar in the Gayo area of Aceh. And it has "classic" Sumatra character, that reverberant, deep-toned, mildly earthy, low acid heavy body cup. This sub region has unique plant material too; our classic comes from trees that predominately have large cherries, resulting in 18-19 screen green coffee. This coffee is grown by smallholder farmers and when I visited there it was clear that the trees were unique in form and the very large cherries. Whether this is a TimTim, Ateng or Djember cultivar is unknown at this point, but I walked the farms with Andy Irham and his father, local Takengon coffee millers who source this lot for us, and they believe this is a local mutation of old seed stock from the early days of coffee in the Gayo area. What I have found consistently is a great flavor profile; aggressive, yet with a foresty sweetness too, hints of earth, but not dirty or musty.

The fragrance from the dry grounds has semi-sweet chocolate roast tones (FC+) with woody tree bark hints, earth, 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. 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. There is a limited amount of this coffee this season, and the appearance in green is not good. It is a very large bean coffee when roasted, and green much of it has splits and is flattened! But it roasts beautifully and the cup is all there ... so that is what counts.





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Typical uneven ripening of coffee cherry, from one of the smallholder plots that grows coffee for the Classic lot.
Country: Sumatra
Grade: 1
Region: Takengon Gayo area, Aceh
Processing: Wet Hulled
Arrival Date: Late February 2010 Arrival
Appearance: .6 d/300gr, 18-19+
Varietal: Ateng, Djember, TimTim
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium to Bold / Heavy Body, foresty notes, low acidity
Roast: Full City+. Sumatra can be roasted on either side of 2nd crack. It works great for darker roasts and blends too. Sumatra appears lighter to the eye than the actual degree of roast, when compared to other coffees visually. People tend to prefer more roast on this coffee, but I enjoy it at a City+ stage (properly rested for 24 hours) where the surface is dry looking and a bit variegated (unsmooth and patchy color).
Compare to: "Mandheling" coffees of the best caliber, but truly this special large bean coffee from an old tree form is a notch above. At darker roasts this coffee is preferred for espresso uses over the Lintong lots we offer.
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Aged Sumatra Lintong Peaberry '07 Crop

Aged coffees are exotic, and might be a bit of an acquired taste. The first sip of an aged coffee might come as a shock, until your taste buds adapt themselves to the extreme flavors: intense, deep, savory, woody, syrupy, rustic! Aged coffees from Indonesia have a long history; in the age of sail-powered marine transportation, everything arrived on US shores as aged coffee! Over time in the ship's hold, the coffee turned color, and became seasoned with a host of flavors, some desirable and some certainly not. Now coffee is specially aged to transform the flavors, in fact this lot was aged 3 years in Singapore in stainless steel vats, not in jute bags. For this and many other reasons, aged coffee is not just old, past-crop coffee. It is monitored during aging, regularly rotated and cupped for flavor as time goes by. This is a special aged lot, a peaberry preparation of the Blue Batak Lintong-area coffee that we stock at Sweet Maria's. Lintong coffees are farmed by the Batak peoples that are the indigenous tribe that works the coffee in this area. We offer the top grade, specially- prepared Lintong coffees as Blue Batak in honor of the Toba Batak people. Aged coffees are well-suited to darker roast levels, and I must say I do not find the City roast of this coffee very agreeable. It needs the intense and brooding weight of darker roasting to pair the origin flavors of the bean in this case. It also needs to rest! Aged coffees improve greatly after 3-4 days out of the roaster. The ground coffee has an unusual fragrance; barley malt, hickory wood, caramel, rustic chocolate and spice. The wet aroma is, er, "challenging" on aged coffees. It has an foresty note that borders on swampy, but in the dark roast a deep caramelized sugar scent comes through with rum raisin pudding. The cup is so intense ... you need time to recover from the first sip. Immediately the coffee seems peppery, hot, with some strong charry notes, but they fade into dark syrupy sweetness. Savory-sweet balance comes through, food flavors not found in coffee, dark liquor syrupy notes, herb and mint, clove, aromatic woody tastes, strawberry sauce, spiced rum ... it's all there, and more. The aftertaste is where this coffee is so complex, and I can literally sit for 5 or ten minutes after the coffee is off my palate, and sense different complex arrangements of flavor. This coffee is unique too because many flavors are sapid but difficult to pin down, and many occur on the palate, in the range between bittering and savory, rather than volitile aromas that are sensed in the olfactory. It's an interesting experience, this Aged Tarbarita Peaberry, and one you might find infinitely pleasing ... or maybe not. Try a small amount and find out.



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

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Coffee cherry on the tree, from my last trip to Lintong.
Country: Sumatra
Grade: One
Region: Lintong Nihota, Lake Toba Area, N. Sumatra
Processing: Wet-hulled
Arrival Date: Late January 2010 Arrival
Appearance: 1.2 d/300gr, 16+ PB screen
Varietal: Djember, Ateng, TimTim
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Bold intensity / Intense foresty, woody, savory, charry notes, very complex in aftertaste.
Roast: Full City to Full City+ is recommended. It can change rapidly between these roast levels. Light roasts (City) are hard to bear initially but reap rewards in the cup. No need to go French on this coffee. Allow to rest 2-4 days, ideally.
Compare to: This is a very special lot of Aged coffee, unlike others in recent memory, more complex, and in the end with a unique sweetness rare in aged lots. This receives a high cupper's correction because the total number doesn't communicate the unique experience of this coffee.
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Sumatra Blue Batak Tarbarita Peaberry (June 2010)

This is a peaberry preparation of the Blue Batak Lintong-area coffee. Lintong coffees are from Sumatra, the island that is politically and geographically part of Indonesia. Lintong Nihota is the town that has become synonymous with the entire southern part of Lake Toba area. Lake Toba defines the landscape of the area, the largest volcanic crater lake in the world, and the result of the largest volcanic event on earth in the last 25 million years! It is huge, and the coffees from the north and eastern shores are quite different from the Lintong coffees. Lintong coffees are farmed by the Batak peoples that are the indigenous tribe that works the coffee in this area. We offer the top grade, specially- prepared Lintong coffees as Blue Batak in honor of the Toba Batak people.

I find Sumatras like this more complex in the lighter roasts than in the usual darker roasts they receive. The main reason is that many commercial roasters use color and surface texture as indicators of roast level. The peaberry has a different roast dynamic, and seems to be a more dense bean that the flats. (Sumatra is known as a fairly "soft" bean, overall). The Tarbarita has a complex aroma, with rustic sweetness, chocolate, honey-hickory, and savory herbal notes. There's sweet sarsaparilla and root beer scents in the wet aroma, caramel and butterscotch, darker malty scents, and pungent spice. My lightest roast was a bit too light (City, just through first crack and stopped) and it has a tomato stem smell - so make sure you allow the roast to progress a bit beyond City (unless you love tomato in your coffee)! At City+ the sweetness reminds me of chicory root and molasses, laced with clove and cinnamon. It's definitely a notch sweeter than other Lintong coffees. The body is lighter that the non-peaberry Blue Batak lot, but still quite syrupy and substantial. And the cup a bit brighter and more lively than most Sumatras I cup here. There's a dark malty note, as well as caramelized sugars and butterscotch with a rustic overlay. The long finish has a nice cinnamon-laced tea note that I find very pleasing, and hints of aromatic wood, cedar and cinnamon bark, come through.



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

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A ''peaberry tree'' that a Lintong farmer showed me. Indeed, most cherries were peaberry!
Country: Sumatra
Grade: One
Region: Lintong Nihota, Lake Toba Area, N. Sumatra
Processing: Wet-hulled
Arrival Date: June 2010 Arrival
Appearance: .6 d/300gr, 16+ PB screen
Varietal: Djember, Ateng, TimTim
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / Complex aromas, rustic sweetness, spice and tea.
Roast: City+ to FC+ to Vienna. See my notes about the intensity.
Compare to: Complex, sweet, rustic, spicy Indonesia flavor profile, brighter than other Sumatra coffees.
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Sumatra Lintong Dolok Sanggul

Dolok Sanggul is a city within the coffee growing area we refer to as Lintong. Lintong Nihota is the town that has become synonymous with the entire southern part of Lake Toba area most of the coffee from the southern shores are sold as such. Lake Toba defines the landscape of the area, the largest volcanic crater lake in the world, and the result of the largest volcanic event on earth in the last 25 million years! It is huge, and the coffees from the north and eastern shores are quite different from the Lintong coffees. Dolok Sanggul is a local marketplace for coffees from the area; once a week the farmers gather to sell their parchment coffee to trusted vendors, who "collect" it on behalf of specific mills, or as freelancers. The mill we work with has certain farmers from higher altitude areas, and who produce a very clean, high-quality parchment coffee. That's part of the reason this has great cup character ... the other is special milling and sorting practices. We offer the top grade, specially- prepared Lintong coffees as Blue Batak in honor of the Toba Batak people. Blue Batak is a special preparation, without the usual split beans, broken pieces and crud found in standard Sumatras. It is carefully density sorted and triple-hand-sorted. And since my latest obsession is inspecting coffee under ultraviolet light while grading them, this lot still shows the normal wet-hulled issues, but is infinitely better than so-called Grade 1 Mandhelings and the like. The dry fragrance has chocolate and caramel biscuit tones, but with a slight herbal and graham cracker graininess in the light roast. Lintongs have a reputation for herbal or herbacious notes; I would say Dolok Sanggul classifies as a Lintong in this respect, but is less herbal than most Lintong coffees. Surprising fruits come forward in the wet aroma, even a momentary whiff of citrus, dried plum and dried fig. It's got great rustic sweetness, aromatic tree bark, cinnamon stick, black tea, and mulling spice in the finish. Light roasts have a malty roast taste, thyme herb, fading to chocolate with plum/prune fruit. FC roast level is more sagey, with dark malt syrup, and a thick slab of fruity chocolate flavor. The body is a bit heavier and more syrupy than the Onan Ganjang sister lot, even though they come from areas that are very close to each other. As mentioned, it is also has less of the herbal notes in the cup flavor than other Lintong coffees, which I think makes it a better choice for use in espresso. In fact, the shots I have made from Dolok Sanggul have been really fantastic, like no other Sumatra I can think of ... but only when rested 5 days or more after roasting. It needs rest! Another roast note: IMO many roasters over-roast Sumatras looking for surface color similar to other origins. They don't color the same as other origins, so you might end up darker than your target quite easily. Lighter Sumatra roasts can actually be more intense!



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

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Coffee flower near Dolok Sanggul, from my last trip there.
Country: Sumatra
Grade: One
Region: Dolok Sanggul, Lintong Area, N. Sumatra
Processing: Wet-hulled
Arrival Date: May 2010 Arrival
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen
Varietal: Ateng, Djember, TimTim
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium-Bold intensity / Rustic sweetness, chocolate roast taste, slight herbal notes, fruit and spice
Roast: City+ to FC+ to Vienna. I preferred Full City to Full City+ in my tests. But many roasters over-roast Sumatras looking for surface color similar to other origins. Lighter Sumatra roasts can actually be more intense!
Compare to: Different than most Lintong coffees: Balanced chocolate notes with long rustic sweetness in the finish.
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Sumatra Takengon Classic Mandheling July 2010

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!





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Additional hand-sorting of green coffee after processing, Aceh district.
Country: Sumatra
Grade: 1
Region: Dagang Sepakat Indah, Bener Meriah
Processing: Wet Hulled
Arrival Date: July 2010 Arrival
Appearance: .6 d/300gr, 18-19
Varietal: Ateng, Djember, TimTim
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium to Bold / Heavy Body, foresty notes, low acidity, rustic sweetnes
Roast: Full City+. Sumatra can be roasted on either side of 2nd crack. It works great for darker roasts and blends too. Sumatra appears lighter to the eye than the actual degree of roast, when compared to other coffees visually. People tend to prefer more roast on this coffee, but I enjoy it at a City+ stage (properly rested for 24 hours) where the surface is dry looking and a bit variegated (unsmooth and patchy color).
Compare to: "Mandheling" coffees of the best caliber, but truly this special large bean coffee from an old tree form is a notch above. At darker roasts this coffee is preferred for espresso uses over the Lintong lots we offer.
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Sumatra Lintong Blue Batak

Lintong coffees are from Sumatra, the island that is politically and geographically part of Indonesia. Lintong Nihota is the town that has become synonymous with the entire southern part of Lake Toba area. Lake Toba defines the landscape of the area, the largest volcanic crater lake in the world, and the result of the largest volcanic event on earth in the last 25 million years! It is huge, and the coffees from the north and eastern shores are quite different from the Lintong coffees. Lintong coffees are farmed by the Batak peoples that are the indigenous tribe that works the coffee in this area. We offer the top grade, specially- prepared Lintong coffees as Blue Batak in honor of the Toba Batak people. Blue Batak is a near-zero defect preparation, without the usual split beans, broken pieces and crud found in standard Sumatras. It is carefully density sorted and triple-hand-sorted. A roast note: It might go against common sense, but I find Sumatras like this more complex in the lighter roasts than in the usual darker roasts they receive. The main reason is that many commercial roasters use color and surface texture as indicators of roast level. They roast coffee until the bean looks attractive. With a Sumatra like this, you will mostly likely hit 2nd crack at the point where the surface texture and variegated bean color evens out, and (I think) you may have gone too far at that point. Ignore appearance, try a lighter roast. The aromatics are pungent and the cup is complex at City+ roast, with herbal tones, and caramel cookie/butterscotch sweetness paired with malty grain notes. There are hints of mild tobacco and spice (clove, pepper). The sweetness reminds me of chicory root and molasses, a rustic sweet flavor. There is latent fruit hiding behind chocolate in the finish, papaya-mango. And there is tons of thick, chocolate roast flavor as well. The body is huge, oily, waxy. Of course, I roasted this to FC, FC+ and Vienna and it's a great cup across the board, turning more to bass-note flavors and a "noir" cup profile at FC+. But it was my lightest roast, C+, that was the most complex. Give it a try.



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

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Coffee flower in Lintong at a farm in the Blue Batak project.
Country: Sumatra
Grade: One
Region: Lintong Nihota, Lake Toba Area, N. Sumatra
Processing: Wet-hulled
Arrival Date: April 2010 Arrival
Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen
Varietal: Djember, Ateng, TimTim
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Bold intensity / Complex, dense, and rustic flavors
Roast: City+ to FC+ to Vienna. See my notes about the intensity.
Compare to: Complex, sweet, rustic and intense.
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Sumatra Sidikalang WP Decaf

Sidikalang is a city and district immediately to the west of Lake Toba, the massive crater lake in North Sumatra. While it is near Lintong, Dolok Sanggul and other growing areas we source lots from, Sidikalang coffees have a different flavor profile, more like a classic Mandheling. Part of this is due to micro-climates and influences from the Lake, part is due to the cultivar. Sidikalang is in the Dairi district, and the altitude for coffee ranges from 1200 meters to 1500 meters in altitude. The area has it's own special long bean type, a form of Typica. Sidikalang is found less and less frequently in Sumatra and other parts of Indonesia. Much of the Typica was lost in the late 1880s, when Coffee Leaf Rust swept through Indonesia. However, both the Bergendal and Sidikalang varieties of Typica can still be found, especially at higher altitudes and in remote areas. The area around Sidikalang is still partly planted in it's eponymous cultivar, as well as the newer Ateng type. I can't say exactly how much is this old Typica type but a good portion certainly is. Anyway, we bought this for the nice cup character and sent it for custom decaffeination. I am really, really happy with the post-decaf results, and it just shows that if you start with better quality green coffee, the decaf results are markedly better. The dry fragrance has a spicy sweet quality, milky caramel, and some woody tones. Like many decafs the dry fragrance, where caramel sauce sweet scents dominate. It reminds me of Cajeta, a really delicious Mexican caramel sauce. There is also a mango and papaya fruited tone to the aroma, which also comes out in the cup flavors. The cup is a culmination of the aromatics; that same Cajeta sweetness, scented wood, mulling spice mix, ans slight fruit (papaya-mango) in the light roast. As it cools there's a banana bread flavor that comes out in the City + roast level. But it is the FC to FC+ that has that classic Mandheling cup; low acid, milk chocolate, body. And while the cup balances out towards body, and has low acidity, there is still a moderate brightness though the long finish. It's not your typical Toba area coffee, which can be herbal to an excessive degree. It has a slight banana peel dryness in the finish, and enough rustic funk to remind you it is a true Sumatra cup. In fact, the FC roast I did is better than 95% of the non-decaf Sumatras Grade One lots I have cupped this year!





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Rad comic books I found at the open market in Sidikalang.
Country: Indonesia (Sumatra)
Grade: One
Region: Sidikalang, Diari District, Sumatra
Processing: Wet Hulled, then Water Process Decaf
Arrival Date: Late March 2010 Arrival
Appearance: .6 d/300gr, 17 - 18+ screen
Varietal: Sidikalang, Ateng
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium Intensity / Low acid, caramel sweetness, milk chocolate, slight fruit
Roast: Full City to Full City+ is ideal for the more typical chocolate-inflected roast tone, but lighter roasts had more caramel and fruit.
Compare to: A striking resemblance to the non-decaf lot we sent down for custom decaffeination; perhaps the main shifts are in the aroma but cup flavor is quite consistent.
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Sumatra Onan Ganjang Cultivar

Onan Ganjang is a town and sub-district in the Lintong area, on the southern shores of the huge volcanic cratar lake, Laut Toba. Coffees from this area have a specific cup profile that is different from Aceh coffees, from the far north. The coffees here are of mixed heritage; a few Bergendal Typicas exist mixed in with the predominate Ateng catimor types. This lot represents a third type, Onan Ganjang, named for the locality where it was widely planted (also sp. Onang Ganjang), but referring to a specific cultivar. To be clear, it's not a Typica type, and it could be a local mutation crossed between Hibrido de Timor and Ateng. But the tree itself is distinctive, healthy, disease-resistant, and produces well. In the cup, the difference is subtle but clear as well; classic flavors, less herbal than other Lintong lots, balanced. This is another Blue Batak slection, which refers to the highest quality parchment coffee and best milling and sorting techniques. Lintong coffees are farmed by the Batak peoples that are the indigenous tribe that works the coffee in this area. We offer the top grade, specially- prepared Lintong coffees as Blue Batak in honor of the Toba Batak people. Blue Batak is a near-zero defect prepartion, without the usual split beans, broken pieces and crud found in standard Sumatras. It is carefully density sorted and triple-hand-sorted. The dry fragrance is potent and has hints of floral herbs, banana, tropical fruits and rustic sweetness at lighter roast levels. It shifts to caramel at FC roast, and semi-sweet chocolate with pungent highlights at FC+/Vienna roast. In the wet aroma dark caramel, chocolate, molasses and wet earth emerge; there is no doubt this is a Sumatra! But it is clean too, not musty, no dirty earth scents. The light roast has honey graham cracker sweetness, malt sugars, butterscotch, and an interesting herbal finish. It has heathery flowers in the lighter roast, but as a Full City roast I think it's a better flavor profile over all, with roast flavors balanced between malty caramel and chocolate, the darkly outlined fruits (plum, and some orange). The mouthfeel is thick and creamy. There's also an essence of aromatic wood, slightly smokey cedar, in the finish with sweet tobacco and clove spices. It's a classic, aggressive, deep Sumatra flavor profile!



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

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The leaves of the distinct Onan Ganjang tree, North Sumatra.
Country: Sumatra
Grade: One
Region: Lintong Area, N. Sumatra
Processing: Wet-hulled
Arrival Date: April 2010 Arrival
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen
Varietal: 100% Onan Ganjang
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Bold intensity / Slightly herbal, rustic sweetness.
Roast: City+ to FC+ to Vienna. FC was my favorite
Compare to: It has a great butterscotch sweetness, complex earth-toned flavors.
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Sumatra Takengon Classic Feb 2010

Formerly offered as Classic Mandheling, the name seems less suited to any coffee from Sumatra these days. Why? 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 near Takengon, the city on the shores of Lake Tawar in the Gayo area of Aceh. And it has "classic" Sumatra character, that reverberant, deep-toned, mildly earthy, low acid heavy body cup. This sub region has unique plant material too; our classic comes from trees that predominately have large cherries, resulting in 18-19 screen green coffee. This coffee is grown by smallholder farmers and when I visited there it was clear that the trees were unique in form and the very large cherries. Whether this is a TimTim, Ateng or Djember cultivar is unknown at this point, but I walked the farms with Andy Irham and his father, local Takengon coffee millers who source this lot for us, and they believe this is a local mutation of old seedstock from the early days of coffee in the Gayo area. What I have found consistently is a great flavor profile; aggressive, yet with a foresty sweetness too, hints of earth, but not dirty or musty. The fragrance from the dry grounds has semi-sweet chocolate roast tones (FC+) with woody tree bark hints, earth, 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. 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. There is a VERY limited amount of this coffee this season, and the appearance in green is not good. It is a very large bean coffee when roasted, and green much of it has splits and is flattened! But it roasts beautifully and the cup is all there ... so that is what counts.





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Typical uneven ripening of coffee cherry, from one of the smallholder plots that grows coffee for the Classic lot.
Country: Sumatra
Grade: 1
Region: Takengon Gayo area, Aceh
Processing: Wet Hulled
Arrival Date: Late February 2010 Arrival
Appearance: .6 d/300gr, 18-19
Varietal: Ateng, Djember, TimTim
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium to Bold / Heavy Body, foresty notes, low acidity
Roast: Full City+. Sumatra can be roasted on either side of 2nd crack. It works great for darker roasts and blends too. Sumatra appears lighter to the eye than the actual degree of roast, when compared to other coffees visually. People tend to prefer more roast on this coffee, but I enjoy it at a City+ stage (properly rested for 24 hours) where the surface is dry looking and a bit variegated (unsmooth and patchy color).
Compare to: "Mandheling" coffees of the best caliber, but truly this special large bean coffee from an old tree form is a notch above. At darker roasts this coffee is preferred for espresso uses over the Lintong lots we offer.
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Sumatra Lintong Nihota KVW Deca

KVW is the German decaffeinator using the MC process under the strictest guidelines (much more so that US-processed decafs). This is a unique decaf lot because it starts with specific Sumatra Lintong, that already has some interesting defined character of its own. And as a decaf coffee, this Lintong maintains these unique roast flavors, just as in non-decafs the Blue Batak or the Lake Toba have rustic sweetness that is so different from classic Mandheling coffees. I thought this coffee really had pronounced "origin character." The dry fragrance is caramelly, almost like butterscotch, with a interesting chocolate biscotti quality. The wet aroma has a deep-toned sweetness, mollasses and caramel candy notes. The cup is (again) very caramelly, with medium body (I anticipate something thicker, but it does have a certain dense texture to it). The acidity is low, and there's a certain earthy and woody quality, the later reminding me of sandalwood. As it cools the sweetness turns to a medium malt syrup, and just a touch of sweet hay smell. In the lighter roasts, the finish has a lingering toasted grain note, while darker roasts develop some milk chocolate.





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Ateng cultivar coffee shrub in Lintong area
Country: Sumatra
Grade: One
Region: Lintong, Lake Toba Area, North Sumatra
Processing: Wet-Hulled (Giling Basah)
Arrival Date: January 2010Arrival
Appearance: .6 d/300gr, 16-18 Screen
Varietal: Ateng, Djember, TimTim
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / Caramel sweetness with rustic notes
Roast: Full City to Full City+.
Compare to: A silky, heavy body cup with extremely low acidity. Blend with a Ethiopia Decaf 50-50 to make a balanced Moka Java type blend.
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Sumatra Blue Batak Tarbarita Peaberry (Jan 2010)

This is a peaberry preparation of the Blue Batak Lintong-area coffee. Lintong coffees are from Sumatra, the island that is politically and geographically part of Indonesia. Lintong Nihota is the town that has become synonymous with the entire southern part of Lake Toba area. Lake Toba defines the landscape of the area, the largest volcanic crater lake in the world, and the result of the largest volcanic event on earth in the last 25 million years! It is huge, and the coffees from the north and eastern shores are quite different from the Lintong coffees. Lintong coffees are farmed by the Batak peoples that are the indigenous tribe that works the coffee in this area. We offer the top grade, specially- prepared Lintong coffees as Blue Batak in honor of the Toba Batak people. I find Sumatras like this more complex in the lighter roasts than in the usual darker roasts they receive. The main reason is that many commercial roasters use color and surface texture as indicators of roast level. The peaberry has a different roast dynamic, and seems to be a more dense bean that the flats. (Sumatra is known as a fairly "soft" bean, overall). The Tarbarita has a complex aroma, with rustic sweetness, chocolate, honey-hickory, and savory herbal notes. There's sweet sarsaparilla and root beer scents in the wet aroma, caramel and butterscotch, darker malty scents, and pungent spice. My lightest roast was a bit too light (City, just through first crack and stopped) and it has a tomato stem smell - so make sure you allow the roast to progress a bit beyond City (unless you love tomato in your coffee)! At City+ the sweetness reminds me of chicory root and molasses, laced with clove and cinnamon. The body is lighter that the non-peaberry Blue Batak lot, but still quite syrupy and substantial. And the cup a bit brighter and more lively than most Sumatras I cup here. There's a dark malty note, as well as caramelized sugars and butterscotch with a rustic overlay. The long finish has a nice cinnamon-laced tea note that I find very pleasing, and hints of aromatic wood, cedar and cinnamon bark, come through.



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

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A ''peaberry tree'' that a Lintong farmer showed me. Indeed, most cherries were peaberry!
Country: Sumatra
Grade: One
Region: Lintong Nihota, Lake Toba Area, N. Sumatra
Processing: Wet-hulled
Arrival Date: Late January 2010 Arrival
Appearance: .6 d/300gr, 16+ PB screen
Varietal: Djember, Ateng, TimTim
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / Complex aromas, rustic sweetness, spice and tea.
Roast: City+ to FC+ to Vienna. See my notes about the intensity.
Compare to: Complex, sweet, rustic, spicy Indonesia flavor profile, brighter than other Sumatra coffees.
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Sumatra Takengon Classic Nov 2009

Formerly offered as Classic Mandheling, the name seems less suited to any coffee from Sumatra these days. Why? 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 near Takengon, the city on the shores of Lake Tawar in the Gayo area of Aceh. And it has "classic" Sumatra character, that reverberant, deep-toned, mildly earthy, low acid heavy body cup. This sub region has unique plant material too; our classic comes from trees that predominately have large cherries, resulting in 18-19 screen green coffee. This coffee is grown by smallholder farmers and when I visited there it was clear that the trees were unique in form and the very large cherries. Whether this is a TimTim, Ateng or Djember cultivar is unknown at this point, but I walked the farms with Andy Irham and his father, local Takengon coffee millers who source this lot for us, and they believe this is a local mutation of old seedstock from the early days of coffee in the Gayo area. What I have found consistently is a great flavor profile; aggressive, yet with a foresty sweetness too, hints of earth, but not dirty or musty. The fragrance from the dry grounds has semi-sweet chocolate roast tones (FC+) with woody tree bark hints 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. There is a touch of black pepper in the finish, as well as earthy tones, and a bit of truffles. There are also muted ripe fruits; plum-prune, fig. Of course, a coffee with this flavor profile doesn't chart well on a cupping form, hence the strong use of the Cupper's Correction.





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One of the small-holder plots where our Takengon Classic is grown, near Takengon.
Country: Sumatra
Grade: 1
Region: Takengon Gayo area, Aceh
Processing: Semi-washed (but called "dry")
Arrival Date: November 2009 Arrival
Appearance: .6 d/300gr, 18-19
Varietal: Ateng, Djember, TimTim
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium to Bold / Heavy Body, foresty notes, low acidity
Roast: Full City+. Sumatra can be roasted on either side of 2nd crack. It works great for darker roasts and blends too. Sumatra appears lighter to the eye than the actual degree of roast, when compared to other coffees visually. People tend to prefer more roast on this coffee, but I enjoy it at a City+ stage (properly rested for 24 hours) where the surface is dry looking and a bit variegated (unsmooth and patchy color).
Compare to: "Mandheling" coffees of the best caliber, but truly this special large bean coffee from an old tree form is a notch above. At darker roasts this coffee is preferred for espresso uses over the Lintong lots we offer.
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Sumatra Lintong Blue Batak

Lintong coffees are from Sumatra, the island that is politically and geographically part of Indonesia. Lintong Nihota is the town that has become synonymous with the entire southern part of Lake Toba area. Lake Toba defines the landscape of the area, the largest volcanic crater lake in the world, and the result of the largest volcanic event on earth in the last 25 million years! It is huge, and the coffees from the north and eastern shores are quite different from the Lintong coffees. Lintong coffees are farmed by the Batak peoples that are the indigenous tribe that works the coffee in this area. We offer the top grade, specially- prepared Lintong coffees as Blue Batak in honor of the Toba Batak people. Blue Batak is a near-zero defect prepartion, without the usual split beans, broken pieces and crud found in standard Sumatras. It is carefully density sorted and triple-hand-sorted. A roast note: It might go against common sense, but I find Sumatras like this more complex in the lighter roasts than in the usual darker roasts they receive. The main reason is that many commercial roasters use color and surface texture as indicators of roast level. They roast coffee until the bean looks attractive. With a Sumatra like this, you will mostly likely hit 2nd crack at the point where the surface texture and variegated bean color evens out, and (I think) you may have gone too far at that point. Ignore appearance, try a lighter roast. The aromatics are pungent and the cup is complex at City+ roast, with herbal tones, and caramel/butterscotch sweetness paired with malty grain notes. There are hints of tobacco and spice (clove, pepper). The sweetness reminds me of chicory root and molasses. There is latent fruit hiding behind chocolate in the finish. And there is tons of thick, chocolate roast flavor as well. The body is huge, oily, waxy. Of course, I roasted this to FC, FC+ and Vienna and it's a great cup across the board, turning more to bass-note flavors and a "noir" cup profile at FC+. But it was my lightest roast, C+, that was the most complex. Give it a try.





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Tom, Eko and Eduardo discuss the Blue Batak in Lintong area, alte 2008
Country: Sumatra
Grade: One
Region: Lintong Nihota, Lake Toba Area, N. Sumatra
Processing: Giling Basah (wet-hulled)
Arrival Date: Late July 2009 Arrival
Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen
Varietal: Djember, Ateng, TimTim
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Bold intensity / Complex, dense, and rustic flavors
Roast: City+ to FC+ to Vienna. See my notes about the intensity.
Compare to: Complex, sweet, rustic and intense.
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Sumatra FTO Aceh Arinagata

KSU Arinagata is a fair trade cooperative in Aceh. We like Aceh coffees, those grown by Gayo peoples in the area of Lake Tawar, because they have the classic balance of earthiness, pungency, body and rustic sweetness that signifies "Mandheling" type coffee. If it's a bit confusing, you have reason to think so. Mandheling (the Dutch spelling of Mandailing) is a region and a people from West Sumatra, but they grow little to no arabica coffee! Yet their name was borrowed to signify a specific flavor type, at a time when most coffee from Indonesia was exported as "Java" coffee. Coffees grown in the state of North Sumatra, centered around Lake Toba, are often called Lintong coffees, and have a more herbal character. Some coffees from North Sumatra are also sold as Mandheling, such has those from Sidikalang, from the northern side of Lake Toba, or simply ones that cup without the typical Lintong flavor profile. Aceh is actually the state that is to the north of North Sumatra! And for me these coffees have a flavor less distinct than Lintongs, but epitomize the cup character people might expect from the name "Mandheling". In any case, since Mandheling really signifies nothing, we have decided not to overuse it. Only our regional Classic Mandheling (which is also an Aceh coffee!) uses the name. KSU Arinagata coop has over 800 members, small-holder farmers, who produce 100% organic coffee. It is a traditional wet-hulled coffee, meaning the farms each pulp the fresh-picked coffee cherries and semi-dry in small batches on the farm. Then they are delivered to the coop mill for further drying, wet-hulling, and final drying. At lighter roast levels, the dry fragrance from this cup has a rustic caramelly sweetness, laced with sorghum syrup. Darker roasts have a pungent bittersweet quality, molasses and chocolate notes. The wet aromatics add a more rustic element, an earthy scent (in the positive sense, not dirty). The cup is impressive for the balance of sweet and (especially at FC+ roast) potent dark spicy notes; cinnamon, allspice, clove, mulling spices. The acidity is very low, as expected, and the body very dense and thick. There's no mustiness that I find so often in bad Sumatra lots, but foresty dark-earth notes, wet humus-like flavors, linger in the aftertaste of the darker roast levels.





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Farmer members of KSU Arinagata cooperative
Country: Sumatra
Grade: 1
Region: Takengon, Gayo, Aceh
Processing: Wet-hull Indonesia Process
Arrival Date: late December 2009 Arrival
Appearance: .6 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen+
Varietal: Ateng, Djember, TimTim
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Bold intensity / Low acidity, heavy body, rustic sweetness, spice
Roast: City+ to Full City+ to Vienna. This roasts evenly (for a Sumatra) and takes a wide range of roasts. The light roasts are sweet, but I like the bittersweet FC-FC+ roast. Cracks will occur at relatively light bean surface color.
Compare to: Classic Aceh flavor profile, with rustic sweetness.
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Sumatra Onan Ganjang Cultivar

Onan Ganjang is a town and sub-district in the Lintong area, on the southern shores of the huge volcanic cratar lake, Laut Toba. Coffees from this area have a specific cup profile that is different from Aceh coffees, from the far north. The coffees here are of mixed heritage; a few Bergendal Typicas exist mixed in with the predominate Ateng catimor types. This lot represents a third type, Onan Ganjang, named for the locality where it was widely planted, but referring to a specific cultivar. To be clear, it's not a Typica type, and it could be a local mutation crossed between Hibrido de Timor and Ateng. But the tree itself is distinctive, healthy, disease-resistant, and produces well. In the cup, the difference is subtle but clear as well; classic flavors, less herbal than other Lintong lots, balanced. This is another Blue Batak slection, which refers to the highest quality parchment coffee and best milling and sorting techniques. Lintong coffees are farmed by the Batak peoples that are the indigenous tribe that works the coffee in this area. We offer the top grade, specially- prepared Lintong coffees as Blue Batak in honor of the Toba Batak people. Blue Batak is a near-zero defect prepartion, without the usual split beans, broken pieces and crud found in standard Sumatras. It is carefully density sorted and triple-hand-sorted. The dry fragrance is potent and has hints of goldenseal, dusky fruits and rustic sweetness. In the wet aroma syrupy dark caramel, chocolate, molasses and wet earth emerge; there is no doubt this is a Sumatra! But it is clean too, not musty, not dirty earth. The light roast has honey graham cracker sweetness, malt sugars, butterscotch, and an interesting herbal accent. It has heathery flowers in the lighter roast, but as a Full City roast I think it's a better flavor profile in all, with roast flavors balanced between malty caramel and chocolate, the darkly outlined fruits (plum, and some blood orange). There's also an essence of aromatic wood, slightly smokey cedar, in the finish. It's a classic, brutish, aggressive, deep Sumatra flavor profile!



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

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The leaves of the distinct Onan Ganjang tree, North Sumatra.
Country: Sumatra
Grade: One
Region: Lintong Area, N. Sumatra
Processing:
Arrival Date: July 2009 Arrival
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen
Varietal: 100% Onan Ganjang
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Bold intensity / Earthy, slightly herbal,
Roast: City+ to FC+ to Vienna. FC was my favorite
Compare to: It has a great butterscotch sweetness, complex earth-toned flavors.
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Sumatra Lintong Dolok Sanggul

Dolok Sanggul is a city within the coffee growing area we refer to as Lintong. Lintong Nihota is the town that has become synonymous with the entire southern part of Lake Toba area most of the coffee from the southern shores are sold as such. Lake Toba defines the landscape of the area, the largest volcanic crater lake in the world, and the result of the largest volcanic event on earth in the last 25 million years! It is huge, and the coffees from the north and eastern shores are quite different from the Lintong coffees. Dolok Sanggul is a local marketplace for coffees from the area; once a week the farmers gather to sell their parchment coffee to trusted vendors, who "collect" it on behalf of specific mills, or as freelancers. The mill we work with has certain farmers from higher altiitude areas, and who produce a very clean, high-quality parchment coffee. That's part of the reason this has great cup character ... the other is special milling and sorting practices. We offer the top grade, specially- prepared Lintong coffees as Blue Batak in honor of the Toba Batak people. Blue Batak is a near-zero defect preparation, without the usual split beans, broken pieces and crud found in standard Sumatras. It is carefully density sorted and triple-hand-sorted. The dry fragrance has chocolate and caramel biscuit tones, but with a slight earthy and graham cracker graininess. Surprising fruits come forward in the wet aroma, even a momentary whiff of citrus, pineapple, dried plum, fig. It's got great rustic sweetness, aromatic tree bark, cinnamon stick, black tea, and mulling spice in the finish. The body is a bit lighter than the Onan Ganjang micro-lot we have as a sister lot, even though they come from areas that are very close to each other. It also has less of the herbal notes found in other Lintong coffees, which I think makes it a better choice for use in espresso. In fact, the shots I have made from Dolok Sanggul have been really fantastic, like no other Sumatra I can think of ... but only when rested 5 days or more after roasting. It needs rest!



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

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Coffee flower near Dolok Sanggul, from my last trip there.
Country: Sumatra
Grade: One
Region: Dolok Sanggul, Lintong Area, N. Sumatra
Processing: Giling Basah (wet-hulled)
Arrival Date: July 2009 Arrival
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen
Varietal: Ateng, Djember, TimTim
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium-Bold intensity / Rustic sweentess, fruit and spice
Roast: City+ to FC+ to Vienna. I preferred Full City to Full City+ in my tests.
Compare to: Slightly brighter and lighter bodied than other Lintongs, with long rustic sweetness in the finish.
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Sumatra Organic Lampahan -Bonkawan Coop

†"Bonkawan" is a cooperative located in Lampahan just outside of Takengon, Aceh district. This is a certified organic lot from Northern Sumatra, from Aceh. Aceh has been a region of conflict but a solid peace treaty has been made between separatists and the government, great news for the farmers of coffee who are trapped in the middle, and always end up losing the most! (Aceh always looks like a misspelling of Ache to me!) This is the traditional wet-hulled process Sumatra process, which is different from dry-process or pulp natural. In true Natural Dry-Process, the whole unpulped (unpeeled) coffee cherry is laid on a patio to dry in the sun, then the skin, mucilage, parchment layer and silverskin are torn from the green seed in one step. To remove immature seeds, all the coffee is carefully sorted with eye and hand. In a Sumatra wet-hull process, called "giling basah" locally, the coffee is pulped out of the skin on the farm, but the mucilage, parchment and silverskin (chaff) remain on the green seed. It is then dried halfway, and transferred to a central mill where it is dried down to about 30% moisture. Then the dried mucilage and parchment layer are removed by the wet-huller machine, and the raw green bean goes out on the patios to dry to the normal 12% moisture. With either method, the coffee seed stays in contact with the fruity mucilage layer longer and this imparts natural flavors to the coffee. Now on to the cup character: The cup is Sumatra all the way without being musty, moldy, or dirty ... unacceptable flavors in any coffee, even Sumatras! The dry fragrance is classic Sumatra all the way: dark fruits and spice. The wet aroma has the sweetness of dried dark fruits; raisin, plum. The cup has shadowy-dark fruited tones, dried mission fig, Monukka raisin and prune, laced with pepper. The acidity is very low, the body is very high; it's neotypical Sumatra! I get a neat black walnut flavor, cinnamon and clove. There's a definite rustic sweetness from start to finish. With low acidity and opaque body, this gives the cup an unusual overall character, what is somewhat colorfully called "brooding" in the wine world.





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In Aceh, the typical ripening with green unripes and red ripe cherries on the same branch.
Country: Sumatra
Grade: 1
Region: Lampahan, North Aceh
Processing: Wet-hull Indonesia Process
Arrival Date: July 2009 Arrival
Appearance: .8 d/300gr, 17 Screen+
Varietal: Ateng, Djember, TimTim
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Bold intensity / Low acidity, heavy body, sweet dried fruits, spice
Roast: City+ to Full City+ to Vienna. This roasts evenly (for a Sumatra) and takes a wide range of roasts. The light roasts can be quite potent! Cracks will occur at relatively light bean surface color.
Compare to: Classic Aceh flavor profile, balanced, brooding coffee!
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Sumatra Sidikalang

Sidikalang is a city and district immediately to the west of Lake Toba, the massive crater lake in North Sumatra. While it is near Lintong, Dolok Sanggul and other growing areas we source lots from, Sidikalang coffees have a different flavor profile, more like a classic Mandheling. Part of this is due to micro-climates and influences from the Lake, part is due to the cultivar. The area has it's own special long bean type, a form of Typica. Sidikalang is found less and less frequently in Sumatra and other parts of Indonesia. Much of the Typica was lost in the late 1880s, when Coffee Leaf Rust swept through Indonesia. However, both the Bergendal and Sidikalang varieties of Typica can still be found, especially at higher altitudes and in remote areas. The area around Sidikalang is still partly planted in it's eponymous cultivar. I can't say exactly how much is this old Typica type but a good portion certainly is. Anyway, we bought this for the nice cup character ... the dry fragrance has a spicy sweet quality, aromatic woody tones, foresty. The wet aroma has caramel and cream sweetness with vanilla hints. It reminds me of Cajeta, a really delicious Mexican caramel sauce. There is also a mango and papaya fruited tone to the aroma, which also comes out in the cup flavors. The cup is a culmination of the aromatics; scented wood and forest floor flavors, mulling spice mix, melon and papaya fruit notes. There's a banana bread flavor that comes our in the City + roast level as the cup cools; wonderful! While the cup balances out towards body, and has low acidity, there is still a moderate brightness though the long finish. It's not your typical Toba area coffee, which can be herbal to an excessive degree. It has a slight banana peel dryness in the finish, and enough rustic funk to remind you it is a true Sumatra cup.





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Ripe coffee cherry near Lake Toba, from my last trip to Sumatra
Country: Sumatra
Grade: One
Region: Sidikalang, West Lake Toba, North Sumatra
Processing: Giling Basah (wet-hulled)
Arrival Date: December 2008 Arrival
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen
Varietal: Sidikalang cultivar
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium-Bold intensity / Rustic sweetness, fruit and spice
Roast: City+ to FC+ to Vienna. I preferred Full City to Full City+ in my tests, but enjoyed the banana bread note at C+ roast.
Compare to: Similar to Lintongs in sweetness, but without that herbal character found in other North Sumatra coffees.
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Sumatra Mandheling WP Decaf

This is another coffee that originated with a really nice Sumatra lot brought into the U.S., and then was sent to water-process decaffeinator in Mexico. The difference here is important to note. In the past many decaf lots of Sumatra were bought by the plant itself, then sold to coffee brokers, without regard for the original quality of the green coffee. The result was very flat coffee with little "origin character". Here we have a Mandheling type coffee with strongly Sumatra flavor profile (Remember, Mandheling is a trade name for Sumatra coffees, not a particular region. But this coffee originates in the Lake Tawar-Takengon area of Aceh district). I cupped quite a few Fair Trade, Organic and FTO lots to pick out this one, which is a standard Grade One Mandheling that survived the decaffeination process intact. The results of my roasts from C+ to FC+ are impressive; not so much when the cup is hot (perhaps it loses a step on the non-decaf Sumatra in this respect), but as it cools. It has great espresso use to create low-caf or decaf blends with body and depth. I like it as a straight decaf espresso too when roasted about 20 seconds into 2nd crack. It is very much a Sumatra cup profile but a bit cleaner and less earthy than its non-decaf Mandheling counterpart. There are foresty tones in the aromatics and the cup, dense body, low acidity, and a rustic sweetness that reminds one of sorghum syrup, if you have ever tasted that (like a malt syrup with an earthy aspect).





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Meeting with small producers in Aceh, Sumatra, during my last trip.
Country: Sumatra
Grade: 1
Region: Mandheling
Processing: Wet-hulled, then water process decaf
Arrival Date: November 2009 Arrival
Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen
Varietal: Typica (Sumatra), Catimor
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / Rustic sweetness, low acid, body
Roast: Full City to Full City+.
Compare to: Low acidity, heavy body, good rustic sweetness. Most like the Brazil decaf, if you need a comparison
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Sumatra Lake Tawar 19+ Extra Bold

Lake Tawar is in the North-central highlands of Medan-Aceh. The main town of Takengon is located on the shores of beautiful Lake Tawar, and it is a great base camp for exploring the greater Gayo region. The lot is a special selection of the largest screen size seeds (19/64ths and greater) and is triple hand-picked after drying to remove defects. Lake Tawar and it's sister mark (Iskandar) are the absolute top-of-the-line in terms of preparation and size. Now, as you know, larger bean size does not mean a better cup, but in the case of Sumatra, where coffee is so mishandled and poorly sorted, this does ensure that small broken bits, or infirmed beans do not make it into the final sort. And more important than the appearance of the green coffee is, of course, the cup quality. The Lake Tawar has much less mustiness than the Grade 1 Mandheling, but I wouldn't dare call this a "cleaned up" cup profile. It is potent, bittersweet, herbal, and intense ... VERY intense. If you think a triple pick coffee, a carefully prepared Sumatra, necessarily loses it's Sumatra intensity, then this Lake Tawar lot will disprove that notion. It did for me. This is a pungent, brooding, opaque, full-bore Sumatra. It has bitter chocolate roast tones, with accents of sage and thyme. There's a very intense sweetness here too, a bit like butterscotch. I wouldn't call it earthy or mossy (a flavor I do not like in Sumatras), but there is something intensely foresty about this cup; cedar, pine bark, somewhat resinous. There's a dark herbal sweetness too, a bit like Ricola drops. Allow the coffee to rest after roasting for minimum 24 hours to enjoy the body in this coffee.





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Country: Sumatra
Grade: Grade 1, Triple-Pick, 19+ screen
Region: Northern Highlands of Medan
Processing: 100% Sun-dried, Semi-washed process
Arrival Date: May 2008 Arrival
Appearance: .0 d/300gr, 19+ Screen
Varietal: Sumatra
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Bold intensity / Dark intense cup , herbal, bittersweet
Roast: Full City to Full City+. Lighter roasts are excellent too if you have the ability to "profile" the roast ... that is, drop the temperature as 1st crack ends and extend the roast time as much as possible without stalling the roast.
Compare to: More bittersweet and foresty than the Iskandar, but in the same top tier of quality.
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Sumatra Classic Mandheling

Finding a really good Grade One Mandheling is tough, at the same time that there is an abundance of this coffee at every coffee warehouse, and on every broker's list. It's easy for anyone to get a bag of skunky old Mandheling. The problem arises when you want really good Mandheling. Buy too early in the crop cycle and you will get a melange of early new crop (not good ...low grown) and past crop coffee (even worse). You have to look at a lot ... a LOT... of samples, and cup them hard, to find a lot that is true to the classic Mandheling cup. Then again, you need to know what that cup is supposed to be! 15 years ago I remember roasting Mandhelings that really had the classic cup character that defined the origin ...back when Specialty coffee was itself being defined in the U.S. First off, it actually looks like a Grade One, and when I screen it in my lab and count the defects, it actually grades as one. This might sound idiotic, but it is the first lot of the year that I evaluated that read Grade 1 on the bag and actually was Grade 1! (Grading is done by cup defect in Sumatra, not appearance, which only partially explains the disconnected logic here). Another factor that makes our Sumatra Classic special is the fact that it comes from old-growth Sumatra Typica trees and one specific location, not pooled from coffees in various regions, and not of mixed cultivars. Anyway, this lot has nice preparation with much less percentage of defects than we have seen in recent seasons. Yes, it has that aggressive, woody, wet-earth character. But it also has a sweetness, mild fruitiness, a caramel roast taste that has a creamy, chocolate dimension to it as well. The finish goes toward the bittersweet, with a pungent (peppery spice) quality emerging, reminding you of the deep, heavy-handed cup character that epitomizes Sumatra. It has a bit of all the defining Sumatra flavors wrapped together in one coffee, and maintains a balance between them. Most people might taste this and just say, "Boy, that's nice Sumatra". That's fine, that's perfect in fact. Sumatra really doesn't have to draw that much attention to itself. I really enjoy the depth and balance of this cup, qualities that I haven't enjoyed this much in a Grade One Mandheling for while.





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Country: Sumatra
Grade: 1
Region: Sumatra, Lake Toba Locale
Processing: Semi-Washed Indonesia Process
Arrival Date: January 2008 Arrival
Appearance: .6 d/300gr, 17-19
Varietal: Classic Sumatra Typica
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium-Bold intensity / Rustic sweets, herbal and sweet hay accents
Roast: Full City+. Sumatra can be roasted on either side of 2nd crack. It works great for darker roasts and blends too. Sumatra appears lighter to the eye than the actual degree of roast, when compared to other coffees visually. People tend to prefer more roast on this coffee, but I enjoy it at a City+ stage (properly rested for 24 hours) where the surface is dry looking and a bit variegated (unsmooth and patchy color).
Compare to: As the name implies, classic Mandheling Sumatras!
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Sumatra Lintong Nihuta KVW Decaf

KVW is the German decaffeinator using the MC process under the strictest guidelines (much more so that US-processed decafs). This is a unique decaf lot because it starts with specific Sumatra Lintong, that already has some interesting defined character of its own. And as a decaf coffee, this Lintong maintains these unique roast flavors, just as in non-decafs the Blue Batak or the Lake Tawar have rustic sweetness that is so different from classic Mandheling coffees. The dry fragrance is caramelly, almost like butterscotch, with a interesting chocolate biscotti quality. The wet aroma has a deep-toned sweetness, molasses and caramel candy notes. The cup is (again) very carame lly, with medium body (I anticipate something thicker, but it does have a certain dense texture to it). The acidity is low, and there's a certain earthy and woody quality, the later reminding me of sandalwood. As it cools the sweetness turns to a medium malt syrup, and just a touch of sweet hay smell. In the lighter roasts, the finish has a lingering toasted grain note, while darker roasts develop some milk chocolate.





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Country: Sumatra
Grade: 1
Region: Lintong
Processing: Wet Process
Arrival Date: May 2008 Arrival
Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen
Varietal: Typica (Sumatra), Catimor
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / Caramel sweetness with rustic notes.
Roast: Full City to Full City+.
Compare to: A silky, heavy body cup with extremely low acidity. Blend with a Ethiopia Decaf 50-50 to make a balanced Moka Java type blend.
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Sumatra Organic Mandheling

This is an Organic-certified lot of Mandheling type coffee with a really nice cup. The care put into this coffee shows in the good preparation of the coffee and screening, a rarity with dry-process Sumatras. This is the traditional Dry-Process Sumtatra Mandheling, which I abbreviated as DP in the past ... except that it doesn't mean the same thing as in other countries. In fact, these Sumtras are processed in a way unique in the world of coffee which is a "semi-dry-process". In true Natural Dry-Process, the whole unpulped (unpeeled) coffee cherry is laid on a patio to dry in the sun, then the skin, mucilage, parchment layer and silverskin are torn from the green seed in one step. To remove immature seeds, all the coffee is carefully sorted with eye and hand. In a Sumatra process, the coffee is pulped out of the skin on the farm, but the mucilage, parchment and silverskin remain on the green seed. It is then dried a bit, and transfered to a central mill where it is dried some more. Then the dried mucilage and parchment layer are removed and the hand preparation/sorting begins. With either method, the coffee seed stays in contact with the fruity mucilage layer longer and this imparts natural flavors to the coffee. Now on to the cup character: The cup is Sumatra all the way without being musty, moldy, or dirty. This is one of the nicest Organic Sumi coffees I have tasted in recent memory. AT FC roast, the chocolate dry fragrance is so abundantly attractive, laced with winey fruited notes and hints of sandalwood. The aromatics have this same bass-note chocolate, with inky dark fruited notes of plum, and clove hints. These follow through in the cup: chocolate, plummy fruited notes, clove in the finish. With low acidity and opaque body, this gives the cup an unusual overall character, what is somewhat colorfully called "brooding" in the wine world.





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Country: Sumatra
Grade: 1
Region: Sumatra, N. Aceh Province
Processing: Semi-Washed Process
Arrival Date: March 2008 Arrival
Appearance: .8 d/300gr, 17 PB Screen
Compare to: Special prep Sumatras, but without loss of intensity and rustic aggressive cup flavors
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Sumatra Lintong Special Preparation

Lintong coffees are from Northern Sumatra, the island that is politically and geographically part of Indonesia. This coffee is produced on the slopes surrounding Lake Toba (interestingly, one of the deepest lakes in the world). Lintong coffees are mostly farmed by the Batak peoples are the indigenous tribe that works the coffee in this area, as are the Mandailing people, so the designation is a bit iffy. We offer the top grade, specially prepared Lintong coffees as Blue Batak in honor of the people, and Lintong are their more rustic cousins. This particular lot comes from late harvest, at a time when I am anticipating the earliest new crop arrivals from other areas (Lintongs are always a bit later). So I was nearly floored to cup this fantastic Lintong coffee. The dry fragrance, especially in the light roasts, was phenomenally intense. It might go against common sense, but I find Sumatras like this more complex in the lighter roasts than in the usual darker roasts they receive. The main reason is that many commercial roasters use color and surface texture as indicators of roast level. They roast coffee until the bean looks attractive. With a Sumatra like this, you will mostly likely hit 2nd crack at the point where the surface texture and varietated bean color evens out, and (I think) you may have gone too far at that point. Ignore appearance, try a lighter roast. The aromatics are pungent and the cup is complex at City+ roast, with herbal tones, and butterscotch sweetness paired with malty grain notes. There are hints of tobacco and fresh leather. Of course, I roasted this to FC, FC+ and Vienna and it's a great cup across the board, turning more to bass-note flavors and a "noir" cup profile at FC+. But it was my lightest roast, C+, that was the most complex. Give it a try. In any case, you can throw just about any roast at this coffee and get a great cup. It's the best Lintong I have found in 2 years.





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Country: Sumatra
Grade: 1
Region: Lake Toba
Processing: Semi-washed Process
Arrival Date: January 2008 Arrival
Appearance: 1.0 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen
Varietal: Sumatra
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Bold intensity / Complex sweetness and rustic flavors
Roast: City+ is ideal, but you can do just about anything with this coffee and get great results. FC+ was awesome too.
Compare to: Complex, sweet, rustic and intense.
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Sumatra Organic -Aceh District

This is a certified organic lot from Northern Sumatra, from Aceh. Aceh has been a region of recent conflict but a solid peace treaty has been made between separatists and the government, great news for the farmers of coffee who are trapped in the middle, and always end up losing the most! (Aceh always looks like a misspelling of Ache to me!) This is the traditional Dry-Process Sumtatra, which I have always abbreviated as DP. In fact, these Sumtras are processed in a way unique in the world of coffee which is a "semi-dry-process". In true Natural Dry-Process, the whole unpulped (unpeeled) coffee cherry is laid on a patio to dry in the sun, then the skin, mucilage, parchment layer and silverskin are torn from the green seed in one step. To remove immature seeds, all the coffee is carefully sorted with eye and hand. In a Sumatra process, the coffee is pulped out of the skin on the farm, but the mucilage, parchment and silverskin remain on the green seed. It is then dried a bit, and transfered to a central mill where it is dried some more. Then the dried mucilage and parchment layer are removed and the hand preparation/sorting begins. With either method, the coffee seed stays in contact with the fruity mucilage layer longer and this imparts natural flavors to the coffee. Now on to the cup character: The cup is Sumatra all the way without being musty, moldy, or dirty. AT FC roast, the chocolate dry fragrance is so abundantly attractive, laced with some fruited notes and hints of sandalwood. The aromatics have this same bass-note chocolate, with inky dark fruited notes of good wet earth and woody notes. These follow through in the cup: chocolate, mild fruited notes, clove in the finish. With low acidity and opaque body, this gives the cup an unusual overall character, what is somewhat colorfully called "brooding" in the wine world.





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Country: Sumatra
Grade: 1
Region: Sumatra, North Aceh Province
Processing: Semi-Washed Process
Arrival Date: January 2008 Arrival
Appearance: .8 d/300gr, 17 Screen+
Compare to: Special prep Sumatras, but without loss of intensity and rustic aggressive cup flavors
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Sumatra Lintong Dolok Sanggul 2008

Dolok Sanggul is a city within the coffee growing area we refer to as Lintong. Lintong Nihota is the town that has become synonymous with the entire southern part of Lake Toba area most of the coffee from the southern shores are sold as such. Lake Toba defines the landscape of the area, the largest volcanic crater lake in the world, and the result of the largest volcanic event on earth in the last 25 million years! It is huge, and the coffees from the north and eastern shores are quite different from the Lintong coffees. Dolok Sanggul is a local marketplace for coffees from the area; once a week the farmers gather to sell their parchment coffee to trusted vendors, who "collect" it on behalf of specific mills, or as freelancers. The mill we work with has certain farmers from higher altiitude areas, and who produce a very clean, high-quality parchment coffee. That's part of the reason this has great cup character ... the other is special milling and sorting practices. We offer the top grade, specially- prepared Lintong coffees as Blue Batak in honor of the Toba Batak people. Blue Batak is a near-zero defect preparation, without the usual split beans, broken pieces and crud found in standard Sumatras. It is carefully density sorted and triple-hand-sorted. The dry fragrance has chocolate and caramel biscuit tones, but with a slight earthy and graham cracker graininess. Surprising fruits come forward in the wet aroma, even a momentary whiff of citrus, pineapple, dried plum, fig. It's got great rustic sweetness, aromatic tree bark, cinnamon stick, black tea, and mulling spice in the finish. The body is a bit lighter than the Onan Ganjang micro-lot we had.



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

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Coffee flower near Dolok Sanggul
Country: Sumatra
Grade: One
Region: Dolok Sanggul, Lintong Area, N. Sumatra
Processing: Giling Basah (wet-hulled)
Arrival Date: December 2008 Arrival
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen
Varietal: Ateng, Djember, TimTim
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium-Bold intensity / Rustic sweentess, fruit and spice
Roast: City+ to FC+ to Vienna. I preferred Full City to Full City+ in my tests.
Compare to: Slightly brighter and lighter bodied than other Lintongs, with long rustic sweetness in the finish.
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Sumatra Mandheling WP Decaf

This is another coffee that originated with an excellent Sumatra lot brought into the U.S., and then was sent to water-process decaffeinator in Mexico. I cupped quite a few Fair Trade, Organic and FTO lots to pick out this one, which is a standard Grade One Mandheling that survived the decaffeination process with a lot of good origin flavor intact. The results are impressive; not so much when the cup is hot (perhaps it loses a step on the non-decaf Sumatra in this respect), but as it cools. It has great espresso use to create low-caf or decaf blends with body and depth. I like it as a straight decaf espresso too when roasted about 20 seconds into 2nd crack. It is very much a Sumatra cup profile but a bit cleaner and less earthy than its non-decaf Mandheling counterpart. It certainly beats than pants off any SWP Sumatra I have cupped this year.





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green coffee bean
Country: Sumatra
Grade: 1
Region: Mandheling
Processing: Semi-washed, then water process decaf
Arrival Date: August 2008 Arrival
Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen
Varietal: Typica (Sumatra), Catimor
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / Rustic sweetness, low acid, body
Roast: Full City to Full City+.
Compare to: Low acidity, heavy body, good rustic sweetness. Most like the Brazil decaf, if you need a comparison
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Sumatra Takengon Classic Oct 2008

Formerly offered as Classic Mandheling, the name seems less suited to any coffee from Sumatra these days. Why? 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 near Takengon, the city on the shores of Lake Tawar in the Gayo area of Aceh. And it has "classic" Sumatra character, that reverberant, deep-toned, mildly earthy, low acid heavy body cup. This sub region has unique plant material too; our classic comes from trees that predominately have large cherries, resulting in 18-19 screen green coffee. This coffee is grown by smallholder farmers and when I visited there it was clear that the trees were unique in form and the very large cherries. Whether this is a TimTim, Ateng or Djember cultivar is unknown at this point, but I walked the farms with Andy Irham and his father, local Takengon coffee millers who source this lot for us, and they believe this is a local mutation of old seedstock from the early days of coffee in the Gayo area. What I have found consistently is a great flavor profile; aggressive, yet with a foresty sweetness too, hints of earth, but not dirty or musty. The fragrance from the dry grounds has semi-sweet chocolate roast tones (FC+) with woody tree bark hints 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. There is a touch of black pepper in the finish, as well as earthy tones, and a bit of truffles. There are also muted ripe fruits; plum-prune, fig. Of course, a coffee with this flavor profile doesn't chart well on a cupping form, hence the strong use of the Cupper's Correction.





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One of the small-holder plots where our Takengon Classic is grown, near Takengon.
Country: Sumatra
Grade: 1
Region: Takengon Gayo area, Aceh
Processing: Semi-washed (but called "dry")
Arrival Date: October 2008 Arrival
Appearance: .6 d/300gr, 18-19
Varietal: Ateng, Djember, TimTim
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium to Bold / Body, earth, low acid
Roast: Full City+. Sumatra can be roasted on either side of 2nd crack. It works great for darker roasts and blends too. Sumatra appears lighter to the eye than the actual degree of roast, when compared to other coffees visually. People tend to prefer more roast on this coffee, but I enjoy it at a City+ stage (properly rested for 24 hours) where the surface is dry looking and a bit variegated (unsmooth and patchy color).
Compare to: "Mandheling" coffees of the best caliber, but truly this special large bean coffee from an old tree form is a notch above. At darker roasts this coffee is preferred for espresso uses over the Lintong lots we offer.
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Sumatra Onan Ganjang Cultivar

Onan Ganjang is a town and sub-district in the Lintong area, on the southern shores of the huge volcanic cratar lake, Laut Toba. Coffees from this area have a specific cup profile that is different from Aceh coffees, from the far north. The coffees here are of mixed heritage; a few Bergendal Typicas exist mixed in with the predominate Ateng catimor types. This lot represents a third type, Onan Ganjang, named for the locality where it was widely planted, but referring to a specific cultivar. To be clear, it's not a Typica type, and it could be a local mutation crossed between Hibrido de Timor and Ateng. But the tree itself is distinctive, healthy, disease-resistant, and produces well. In the cup, the difference is subtle but clear as well; classic flavors, less herbal than other Lintong lots, balanced. This is another Blue Batak slection, which refers to the highest quality parchment coffee and best milling and sorting techniques. Lintong coffees are farmed by the Batak peoples that are the indigenous tribe that works the coffee in this area. We offer the top grade, specially- prepared Lintong coffees as Blue Batak in honor of the Toba Batak people. Blue Batak is a near-zero defect prepartion, without the usual split beans, broken pieces and crud found in standard Sumatras. It is carefully density sorted and triple-hand-sorted. The dry fragrance is potent and has hints of goldenseal, dusky fruits and rustic sweetness. In the wet aroma syrupy dark caramel, mollasses and wet earth emerge; there is no doubt this is a Sumatra! But it is clean too, not musty, not dirty earth. The light roast has honey graham cracker sweetness, malt sugars, butterscotch, and an interesting herbal accent. It has heathery flowers in the lighter roast, but as a Full City roast I think it's a better flavor profile in all, with roast flavors balanced between malty caramel and chocolate, the darkly outlined fruits (plum, and some blood orange). There's also an essence of aromatic wood, slightly smokey cedar, in the finish. It's a classic, brutish, aggressive, deep Sumatra flavor profile!





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The leaves of the distinct Onan Ganjang tree
Country: Sumatra
Grade: One
Region: Lintong Area, N. Sumatra
Processing: Giling Basah (wet-hulled)
Arrival Date: December 2008 Arrival
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen
Varietal: 100% Onan Ganjang
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Bold intensity / Earthy, herbal, classic.
Roast: City+ to FC+ to Vienna. FC was my favorite
Compare to: It has a great butterscotch sweetness, complex earth-toned flavors.
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Sumatra Lake Toba 19+ Extra Bold

This lot had a bit of an identity crises. Originally, Lake Tawar was chosen as the mark for this top grade, large bean separation of coffee because it came from the Kabupaten Aceh district surrounding Lake Tawar. Makes sense. But when there was a conflict between Aceh separatists and the Indonesia Government, the coffee quality suffered. So PT Volkopi, the company that prepares this great coffee, moved production to the Lintong district, by Lake Toba to the south. We kept the Lake Tawar name for several seasons, but why? So the coffee remains the same brutish, intense, "noir" type cup, butwe have corrected the name to the correct lake! The lot is a special selection of the largest screen size seeds from the Blue Batak mark of coffee (19/64ths and greater in size) and is triple hand-picked after drying to remove defects. Lake Tawar and it's sister mark (Iskandar) are the absolute top-of-the-line in terms of preparation, near zero-defect, and size. Now, as you know, larger bean size does not mean a better cup, but in the case of Sumatra, where coffee is so mishandled and poorly sorted, this does ensure that small broken bits, or split beans do not make it into the final sort. And more important than the appearance of the green coffee is, of course, the cup quality. While the Lake Tawar is a very clean preparation, but I wouldn't dare call this a "cleaned up" cup profile. It is potent, bittersweet, herbal, and intense ... VERY intense. If you think a triple pick coffee, a carefully prepared Sumatra, necessarily loses it's Sumatra intensity, then this Lake Toba lot will disprove that notion. This is a pungent, brooding, opaque, full-bore Sumatra. The dry fragrance is intriguingly balanced between sweet and earthy tones, caramel sweetness, pungent notes, and the scent of fresh cut wood at a sawmill. The wet aroma has complex sweetness, bordering on spicy. It has strong chocolate roast tones, with accents of sage and thyme. There's a very intense bittersweetness here too, a bit like butterscotch. I wouldn't call it earthy or mossy (a flavor I do not like in Sumatras), but there is something intensely "foresty" about this cup; cedar, pine bark, somewhat resinous. There's a dark herbal note a bit like Riccola drops, sage, thyme. The coffee finishes with an strong, heavy-handed baker's chocolate, laced with tobacco and leather. Yes, leather. Allow the coffee to rest after roasting for minimum 24 hours to enjoy the entire effect of the body in this coffee.





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Smallholder Toba Batak farmer harvesting coffee, from my late '08 trip.
Country: Sumatra
Grade: One, Special Prep, Large Bean
Region: Lintong, Lake Toba Area, North Sumatra
Processing: Giling Basah (Wet-hulled)
Arrival Date: Nov 2008 Arrival
Appearance: .02 d/300gr, 19+ Screen
Varietal: Djember, Ateng, TimTim
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Bold intensity / Complex rustic sweetness and foresty notes
Compare to: Top notch wet-hulled Sumatra coffees
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Sumatra Lintong Grade One

Lintong coffees are from Northern Sumatra, the island that is politically and geographically part of Indonesia. This coffee is produced on the slopes surrounding Lake Toba (interestingly, one of the deepest lakes in the world). Lintong coffees are mostly farmed by the Batak peoples are the indigenous tribe that works the coffee in this area, as are the Mandailing people, so the designation is a bit iffy. We offer the top grade, specially prepared Lintong coffees as Blue Batak in honor of the people, and Lintong are their more rustic cousins. This particular lot comes from late harvest, at a time when I am anticipating the earliest new crop arrivals from other areas (Lintongs are always a bit later). So I was really happy to cup this solid Lintong coffee. The dry fragrance, especially in the light roasts, was phenomenally intense. It might go against common sense, but I find Sumatras like this more complex in the lighter roasts than in the usual darker roasts they receive. The main reason is that many commercial roasters use color and surface texture as indicators of roast level. They roast coffee until the bean looks attractive. With a Sumatra like this, you will mostly likely hit 2nd crack at the point where the surface texture and variegated bean color evens out, and (I think) you may have gone too far at that point. Ignore appearance, try a lighter roast. The aromatics are pungent and the cup is complex at City+ roast, with herbal tones, and butterscotch sweetness paired with malty grain notes. There are hints of tobacco and spice (clove, pepper). The sweetness reminds me of chicory root and molasses. Of course, I roasted this to FC, FC+ and Vienna and it's a great cup across the board, turning more to bass-note flavors and a "noir" cup profile at FC+. But it was my lightest roast, C+, that was the most complex. Give it a try. The preparation of the green coffee is not that pretty to look at, but we don't taste with our eyes! The coffee roasts well, and some of the odd-looking greens roast to an even color, and seem to add rustic dimension to this cup character.





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Country: Sumatra
Grade: 1
Region: Lake Toba
Processing: Semi-washed Process
Arrival Date: September 2008 Arrival
Appearance: 1.0 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen
Varietal: Sumatra Jember Typica
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Bold intensity / Complex sweetness and rustic flavors
Roast: City+ is ideal, but you can do just about anything with this coffee and get great results. FC+ was awesome too.
Compare to: Complex, sweet, rustic and intense.
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Sumatra Gr.1 Mandheling Oct 2008

Dry-processed Sumatran coffees are the boldest of the Indonesian coffee-growing world. Low-acid, deep, complex; it is entirely sensed in the anterior regions of the palate. Our Grade 1 Sumatran Mandheling coffee from the region of Lake Toba and Lake Takengon (Mandheling is not really a region ...it is a Sumatran ethnic group) has a heavy body (dry-processing aids this) and a rich, complex earthy flavor. It has a pleasing, tangy bittersweet and aggressive musty twist in the flavor which makes it so popular among fans of the darker roast. Sumatras are earthy to varying degrees. It's Sumatra, it's great, and when it is a really good lot (and not past crop!) it always is: what more can be said. This coffee is basically dry processed, so I would not cull out odd-looking beans before roasting ...you will be surprised how well things work out in the end. You can't buy Sumatras based on the appearance of the green coffee: certain odd looking beans contribute to the pleasantly aggressive cup profile, and certain over-prepared lots can be flat and without proper Sumatra character. You might want to pick out light under-roasted beans after roasting, but I choose not to do that either. Finding good lots of Mandheling is difficult, especially now that the demand is high, the Tsunami has put more political pressures on the area, (the Tsunami did not affect coffee lands), and the coffee is selling way over the market prices as it used to . Still, it is ubiquitous. Anyone can stock a Sumatra -just call any broker and buy a bag. But getting a really good lot takes a lot of cupping and a good sense of timing. The best Sumatras usually aren't the first arrivals of the new season, nor the last, but exactly where the crop quality will peak is hard to say. Actually the crop starts arriving in November or so but early lots were not good- and in fact it appears now that the exporters are blending old crop and new crop lots in the early shipments -an unsavory practice. We wait for the "peak of the crop" to arrive for the best cup quality, and this arrival was exactly that (a buit later than peak, actually). Now, this is not a pretty looking coffee, but then again we don't taste with our eyes. You need to look past appearance and just roast it. And as far as that goes, I am recommending darker roasts than previous years, Full City+, a few snaps into 2nd crack. This is a deep, brooding, pungent, bass note coffee, with and undertone of earthy dark chocolate. The almost tarry character makes it, perhaps, an unbalanced cup, lacking acidity, lacking a bright end to the cup. But this IS the right character for a good Grade 1, Dry -Process Mandheling, so that's that! Ugly coffee alert: This lot of Mandheling has the right cup character, but it is also ugly as heck. But we don't enjoy coffee based on appearance, and sometimes the fairness of the green and the quality of the cup have little correlation. This is one of those times...





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Coffee cherry in the Gayo area of Aceh.
Country: Sumatra
Grade: 1
Region: North Sumatra - Aceh
Processing: Semi-washed (but called "dry")
Arrival Date: October 2008 Arrival
Appearance: 1.8 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen
Varietal: Sumatra Jember Typica and others.
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium to Bold / Body, earth, low acid
Roast: Full City+. This years Sumatra crop can be roasted on either side of 2nd crack. It works great for darker roasts and blends too. Sumatra appears lighter to the eye than the actual degree of roast, when compared to other coffees visually. People tend to prefer more roast on this coffee.
Compare to: Powerful Indonesians, Low acidity, earthy, deep flavors
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