The Intensity of Indonesia
Lush and tropical, Indonesia is home to the deepest lake in the world and the sixth largest island. Sumatra’s mountainous and volcanic geography, with the equator at its epicenter and micro-climates within its interior, makes it an island well-suited for growing coffee.
Sumatra coffees are famous for their unique flavor profile, low acidity, thick body and rustic flavors that are often described as earthy. Much of the flavor comes from the way Sumatran coffees are processed via the wet-hull method or Giling Basah in Indonesian, not to be confused with wet-processed coffee. It is this Giling Basah process that results in a coffee with mild acidity, but an intense full body flavor profile.
Indonesia’s liberalized coffee sector enables both local and international exporters to operate freely. Arabica coffee from the north is the popular Mandheling, derived from the Mandalling people who produce it. Farmers sell their coffee in unprocessed form to aggregators who hull, transport and sell it to exporters in green form. Additional processing is performed by exporters to remove defects and prepare green coffee to export standards.
There are two main growing areas in Sumatra: Lake Toba and Gayo. Both are highland areas with rich volcanic soils. West Sumatra is emerging as a distinct third area in its own right. The large geography and sheer number of farms in the region produce distinct flavor profiles in different lots due to each growing area’s micro-climate. However, there are flavor qualities present in all coffees from this region that make them undeniably Sumatra.