Sumatra is one-third of a classic Espresso blend. It’s also one of my favorite coffee origins.
Sumatra’s coffee story is one of heartbreak. When the Dutch colonized the Indonesian archipelago, they brought C. arabica with them. It grew VERY well. Then about the turn of the twentieth century, a terrible fungal epidemic wiped out all C. arabica on the island. The Dutch replaced the devastated coffee plants with the heartier C. liberica (which isn’t usable for commercial coffee production nowadays) and C. canephora (a.k.a. Robusta). Today, the independent Sumatran plantations produce mostly Robusta for export.
But I’m not drinking Robusta. A few of the smaller co-ops in the mountainous regions produce high-quality arabica beans from re-introduced Dutch root stock. The very best of which qualify to be called “Grade I Mandheling,” which is a two-part designation denoting the highest quality (Grade I) and the oldest origin stock in Indonesia (Mandheling).
Stone Creek’s coffee buyers select beans from several co-ops to be blended into a few batches each year to represent the best of Sumatra. They roast these batches to two profiles: Medium and Dark. I’ve got the Dark today.
It pours near midnight-black from the press. The aroma is very mellow and has notes of caramel and cocoa, with a hint of vanilla or maybe toasted marshmallow. It’s a medium-bodied coffee. The first sip is sort of one-sided and muddy. The mid-taste gets more exciting, bringing flavors of warm cinnamon and toasted cashews. There’s very little acidity so it doesn’t sparkle excitingly on the edges of the tongue like a Kenya would. The rear taste shifts the flavors more towards roasted almonds but continues the overall experience. The aftertaste is of light, buttery coffee and cashews.
I highly recommend this coffee to anyone looking to sample a taste of Sumatra without any bite. This coffee has a very balanced and pleasant flavor profile with an overall subdued tone.