Indonesia Sumatra, pronounced as "in-də-ˈnē-zhə soo-mah-trah," is an enchanting coffee-producing region situated in Southeast Asia, specifically on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia. The island's unique geography features mountain ranges that reach altitudes of 1,500 to 2,000 meters above sea level, making it an ideal location for cultivating coffee. An interesting fact about Indonesian Sumatra coffee is that it is often referred to as "Mandheling" – a name derived from the Mandailing people, an ethnic group native to the region.
Coffee cultivation in Indonesia Sumatra dates back to the 18th century when the Dutch East India Company introduced the crop to the region. Over the years, Sumatra's coffee production expanded and diversified, with various Arabica and Robusta varieties being grown across the island. Today, Indonesia is the fourth-largest coffee producer in the world, with Sumatra contributing significantly to the country's output.
Farming and processing methods in Indonesia Sumatra are primarily traditional, with smallholder farmers constituting a significant portion of the coffee-growing community. In general, the country's coffee farming practices are characterized by a combination of age-old techniques and modern methods.
A unique processing method employed in Sumatra is called "Giling Basah," also known as wet-hulling. This method involves removing the outer skin of the coffee cherry, followed by fermenting the beans for a short period in a water-filled tank. The beans are then partially dried before the parchment layer is removed, and they are left to dry further. This process results in a distinctive blue-green hue and a full-bodied, earthy flavor profile that is characteristic of Sumatra coffees.
Indonesia Sumatra coffees are renowned for their bold, complex flavors that are a delight to the palate. The typical flavor profile of a Sumatra coffee includes:
1. Earthy: Sumatra coffees are known for their earthy undertones, reminiscent of the rich, volcanic soils in which they are grown.
2. Herbal: Hints of herbs, such as sage and thyme, are commonly found in the aroma and taste of Sumatra coffees.
3. Low Acidity: Thanks to the Giling Basah processing method, Sumatra coffees typically have a lower acidity level compared to other coffee origins, resulting in a smoother, more rounded taste.
4. Full-bodied: The wet-hulling process also contributes to the full-bodied, bold nature of Sumatra coffees, which are often described as having a syrupy or velvety mouthfeel.
5. Dark chocolate and spice: Notes of dark chocolate and warm spices, such as cinnamon and cardamom, are also prevalent in Sumatra coffee, adding depth and complexity to the overall flavor experience.
While there are several notable farms and farmers in Indonesia Sumatra, a few stand out for their exceptional coffee quality and commitment to sustainable practices. One such example is the cooperative "Koperasi Pedagang Kopi Ketiara," led by the dynamic and pioneering female farmer Rahmah. The cooperative is known for producing top-notch organic and Fair Trade-certified coffees, with a focus on empowering women and fostering environmental stewardship.
Indonesia Sumatra is a captivating coffee-growing region with a rich history and an array of unique flavors. Whether you're a seasoned coffee enthusiast or a curious newcomer, Sumatra coffees offer an unforgettable tasting experience that will transport you to the lush, tropical landscapes of this enchanting island.