Sumatra Mandheling Coffee
Sumatra Mandheling Coffee is a rare Indonesian coffee that is delightfully smooth with a rich, heavy body, low acidity, exotic flavor with an intense syrupy aftertaste and earthy richness.
- Medium roast
CUP NOTES: Brown spice & cocoa aroma, Well balanced, full-body, mild acidity
FLAVOR NOTES: Brown sugar, winey, dried fruit, clean aftertaste
COFFEE PROCESSING: Semi-Washed
DRYING: Sun Drying
Sumatra Coffee is Highly Prized
Beans from Sumatra have always been highly prized not only because of their full flavor but also because of their distinct appearance. Sumatran coffee beans, when green, are often asymmetrical in shape and have a deep aquamarine tint. Beginning in the 18th Century, when the popularity of Sumatran coffee raised significantly, the unique shape and hue helped European merchants recognize authentic Sumatran coffee beans.
Sumatra Mandheling Coffees
Discriminating coffee drinkers have long placed Sumatra coffee at the top of the list of the world's best coffees. Sumatra coffee from Indonesia has one of the most distinct characteristics of all origin coffees. Coffee experts would agree that its earthy, pungent, and deep character results in less from the botanical variety of the beans or the area where it is grown than from the unusual processing method.
Sumatra coffee is always processed both wet and dry, unlike most other coffees processed either dry or wet. In wet processing, the pulp is removed from the coffee cherry before the beans are dried. During the dry processing, the seeds are dried inside the fruit before the skin; pulp, parchment and a white film called silver skin are removed. Sumatra coffee, which is almost only grown by small farms, combines a bit of the two. The pulp is removed at the farm, but the parchment and silver skin is left on. The coffee is then dried in stages before the remaining layers are removed.
Sumatra Mandheling coffee is one of the common four types of Sumatra coffee. While most coffee is named after the growing region or the country, Mandheling coffee is named after the Mandheling people that traditionally farmed and processed the coffee beans. A WWII Japanese military man stationed in Sumatra has asked a local Sumatran where his coffee originated. Still, the Sumatran man mistakenly thought he was being asked about his ethnicity and replied, "Mandheling." Later, word spread to Japan, and then the name stuck as merchants began inquiring about the purchase of Mandheling coffee from Sumatra. Mandheling is produced in Pandang, a small island part of Indonesia, close to the Sumatra coffee district, where 65% of the coffee is grown. Coffee trees were bought to the island in the early 19th century in an attempt to break the near-monopoly on coffee beans from other parts of the world.
Mandheling KOP Sumatra coffee is grown at altitudes of 2,500 to 5,000 feet. Mandheling has low acidity, bold, highlights of a chocolate and caramel taste and earthy flavor. Beans from the Sumatra Gayo Mountain, the Aceh area, are less well known than the Lintong and Mandheling ones. These coffee beans are grown in a small mountain valley surrounding Lake Tawar and the town of Takengon. They are grown in the shade and without any chemicals. The processing methods used here vary widely and affect the flavors. Some beans are processed by small farmers who use the traditional Sumatran method of washing them in the backyard. Lintong has a deep, complex flavor with a lot of smokiness, and Mayo has a heavy, almost syrupy body and intense earthiness. The coffee brewed from these beans resembles the Lintong and Mandheling coffees and are often sold by Medan exporters in Indonesia.
However, the Aceh beans you are most likely to encounter in U.S. coffee shops and sales come from a large mill that uses a meticulous wet method to process them. It follows international standards by a Dutch agency. These Gayo Mountain Washed beans produce a brew that is similar in flavor to the Lintong/Mandheling.
Another Sumatra coffee, Kopi Luwak Coffee, is made from the coffee beans excreted by various civet called the luwak after it has eaten the fruit. Kopi Luwak producers either "harvest" the beans from the feces of wild luwaks, or keep luwaks in cages fed on coffee cherries. Since this is obviously a labor-intensive procedure, Kopi Luwak Coffee is by far the highest-priced coffee globally, going for about $400 a pound, roasted. They say the smell of roasting Kopi Luwak is not to be believed, which is probably another reason why most roasters don't offer it.