If you’re a coffee lover, you’ve probably heard about Sumatran coffee. Its complex flavor makes it one of the most unique coffee beans.
This is the type of coffee that you either love or hate. But because this is one of the best coffee beans, as a coffee lover, you should at least give it a chance.
If you’ve never heard of it, you might have a lot of questions now. Where is Sumatra in the world? Is Sumatra coffee dark?
Continue reading to find all these answers and much more. Let’s begin, and we’ll tell you all there is about best Sumatra coffee.
Sumatra Coffee Facts
Sumatra coffee beans are one of the most popular in the world. Coffee lovers appreciate its origin, the way it’s produced as well as quality.
Before we proceed to discuss all about Sumatra green coffee beans, let’s break down some relevant facts:
- It comes from Indonesia – creating two climatic zones; Sumatra occupies both sides of the equator in equal halves.
- Its unique taste is due to the processing method – wet hulling is what gives Sumatran coffee the earthy and mossy flavor.
- Women are the backbone of producing – they plant, grow and harvest the Sumatra green coffee beans. They are the ones to transport the Sumatra coffee beans.
- There are several types – Sumatra produces Lington, Gayo, and Sumatran mandheling and a few more.
- Sumatra is also home to the most expensive coffee – Kopi Luwak is one of the best coffee beans from Sumatra. Palm civet cats eat and poop out these coffee cherries.
Where is Sumatra?
Maybe you’ve heard of it but wasn’t sure where is Sumatra coffee from. It’s grown in the Sunda Islands along the coast of Western Indonesia.
The location on the equator has the perfect climate for growing best coffee beans. Indonesia is one of the largest coffee producers in the world.
What is Sumatra Coffee?
Best Sumatra coffee is special and unique. It has a chocolaty and earthy flavor which is mostly attributed to the way it’s produced.
It’s grown in small farms about 100 acres big with a hundred coffee trees. These farms usually work in structured cooperative partnerships. This allows them to work together, sell the product and split the profits.
In Indonesia, cooperative has about 20 to 1200 members. They have to follow strict guidelines and regulations. They help each other grow and improve to sell coffee next year.
How Sumatra Coffee Beans are Processed
Wondering what Sumatra coffee tastes like? It’s earthy and herbal, matching very well with other flavors such as cinnamon, maple, and toffee.
Most of its flavor comes from the way the Sumatran Coffee is being processed. The processing method is called wet hulling, natural processing or dry processing.
These coffee cherries are removed from the tree when they are still quite wet. Sumatra’s weather doesn’t allow for the same drying process as in other countries.
Farmers usually have about 4 hours of drying time before it starts raining. That’s why they only dry coffee until it reaches 50% moisture content.
Cherries are then transported to a wet hulling machine. This machine uses friction to dry the coffee furthermore. It also removes the protective coating off of the Sumatra coffee. All of this helps ferment the beans and create the distinctive earthy flavor.
Traditional and not Chemically Treated
The way we get the last Sumatran coffee beans is unique to Indonesia. Their farmers traditionally produce the coffee from start to finish.
Now, this doesn’t mean that they’ve been doing things the same way for centuries. In fact, the process is innovated whenever there’s need for more advanced preparations. But those are usually baby steps, while the big things remain true to Indonesia’s traditional ways.
The entire process is usually done without any chemicals. Some people consider that certain chemicals could help the producing while others believe it’s better to remain organic and completely natural.
Women Do The Work
Women are considered to be the backbone of the production process. As a matter of fact, about 80% of the Sumatra coffee farmers are actually women.
Though many would say that they lack any actual training in harvesting techniques, these women have enormous experience.
They’ve been doing this work for generations, and though they lack training, they have more practical knowledge than anyone else. They are apparently doing a great job since Sumatra has one of the best coffee beans.
What Sumatra Coffee Tastes Like?
There are a few things to say about the taste of Sumatran coffee although we’ve mentioned some earlier.
Sumatra coffee beans are much different from other best coffee beans. These have excess moisture which offers many different flavors. Plus, Sumatran coffee has lower acidity but much more earthy flavors.
These are some of the tasting notes of Sumatran coffee:
- Spicy herbs
- Bell pepper
- Wild Mushrooms
- Balsamic vinegar
You may find this odd because, in other countries, these are the tastes that indicate your coffee has gone bad. However, when it comes to Sumatran coffee, the complexity of the flavors indicates quality.
As we said, Sumatran coffee beans ferment during storage, which is what eventually provides the unique tasting experience.
Types of Sumatra Coffee
You can get three different coffees from Sumatra:
Sumatran Mandheling coffee is often considered to be the best coffee from Sumatra. It has a smooth, rich and complex taste.
The taste notes you’ll notice first are licorice and chocolate. Soil and climate of Sumatra helps develop the unique taste.
It’s grown in Padang’s west-central area somewhere between 2500 and 5000 feet above sea level. To bring out the earthy taste, it’s usually given a medium-dark or dark roast.
Lington coffee has a clean aftertaste. It’s named after its home in the District of Lingtonnihuta. It’s located in the southwest of Lake Toba which is the world’s deepest inland water.
This region rises to a high plateau which is precisely what gives the altitude best for Arabica growing. Compared to Mandheling, Lington coffee has a dark chocolate taste with a bit of earthy flavor.
It’s ideal if you like Sumatra Mandheling coffee but want to switch it up a little.
Last but not least is the Gayo Peaberry Sumatran coffee. It comes from the Ache province up north of Sumatra. It’s grown entirely naturally and organically for a full, smooth taste and bright acidity.
Kopi Luwak Sumatran Coffee
Interestingly, Kopi Luwak is considered to be the most expensive coffee in the world. It’s produced in the most unusual way that’s unique to Sumatra.
The process begins when palm civet cats eat and poop out the Sumatra green coffee beans. During this time, the coffee cherries are fermented and protected by their parchment coat.
Farmers then collect cat poop to clean and process the coffee beans before they distribute it. This type of coffee has a very distinct taste that’s similar to tomatoes or mushrooms. It’s because of cat’s stomach acid and wet hulling process that Kopi Luwak tastes as it does.
The unique flavor is what helps sell the coffee at such a high price, too. High demand and little supply are also partial reason for why the coffee is as expensive. In most cases, $100 is as low as it gets for Kopi Luwak.
It takes quite a while to collect enough coffee beans, especially if it comes to wild palm civet cats.
Sdikalang Sumatra Coffee
This is another coffee type that comes from Sumatra. Sidikalang City is the capital of Dairi Regency in North Sumatra, and it’s where this type comes from.
The fresh mountain area helps produce the unique and delicious taste. The plantations are located in the Bukit Barisan where the altitude of 1500 m level greatly affects the beans. This is often one of the most popular Sumatran places to visit.
Where To Buy Best Sumatra Coffee
Starbucks Sumatra is an ideal option. However, Costco is another place to get it if you don’t mind buying off-the-shelf coffee.
There are some online suppliers and other ways you could get hands on Sumatra coffee, but it’s up to you to choose which one suits you the best.
Aged Sumatra can sometimes be found at selected locations through the Starbucks Reserve. You can find the Sumatran coffee at Starbucks, and it’s usually the dark-roasted, herbal and earthy tasting.
Starbucks is the biggest buyer of Sumatra green coffee beans.
If you want to have Starbucks Sumatra, make sure to try it with some breakfast such as cinnamon rolls, pancakes, or oatmeal.
These flavors go hand-in-hand with the unique taste of the Sumatra coffee Starbucks.
Starbucks Sumatra Coffee is also made in a k-cup for their Verismo machines. Luckily, you can also buy Sumatra coffee beans as well as pre-ground coffee.
Sumatra Coffee Costco
When it comes to Sumatra at Costco, opinions are split.
Most people choose Costco for its fair prices, but the quality of coffee is what people discuss the most. Furthermore, there are many different roasts and flavors, which makes it a little hard to find the best for you.
Unless you know precisely the kind of roast you like, you can easily miss it and end up with coffee you don’t like.
However, Costco is not to blame in this case. The important thing is to know that Sumatra has a unique taste as it is, so it’s just a matter of finding which roast is best for you.
Add some vanilla or hazelnut creamer and see if that fits your taste buds more.
Sumatra Blend Coffee
The best way to blend Sumatran is by using it with other coffees that have what Sumatran is missing. While Sumatra coffee is a base note, it’s best partnered with coffees from Ethiopia or South America.
Whatever blend you choose, Sumatran will bring out its complex flavor. That’s precisely why Sumatran coffee is a unique ingredient.
However, we recommend you try Sumatra by itself at first. If you find that its taste is too much for you, try a blend of some sort.
How To Brew Sumatran Coffee Beans at Home
Espresso might be the best choice if you want to get the most of Sumatran coffee gutsy flavor. Grinding it finely and making it in espresso is the most favorite way.
However, coarse or medium grind allows you to enjoy Sumatran using whatever is your favorite brewing method.
Sumatran coffee is one of the best coffee beans for a cold brew. Course grind and French Press cold brewing result in a flavorful cup of coffee. When you brew it cold, you get coffee that’s even lower in acid, so it’s smoother and kinder to your stomach.
Which Roast is The Best?
Dark roast brings out the most of Sumatran flavor which is why most roasters give the dark roast. It’s a traditional way of having Sumatra, which is why people most often opt for it.
Still, if the dark roast is too much for you, experiment with it at home. A lighter roast might look pale, but suit you better than the dark one.
Useful TipsSumatra is not like any other coffee, but some tips do apply when it comes to storing the beans. Whenever you buy coffee to prepare it at home, it’s important you keep these things in mind:
- Keep it fresh – don’t put your Sumatra in the fridge. Keep it fresh and in a vacuum container until you want to use it.
- Don’t grind it in advance – though it might save you some time to pre-grind your coffee; it’s no good. If you always want to drink fresh coffee, grind it just right before you make your cup.
- Espresso is the best – cold brew isn’t a bad option either, but espresso is the way to go with Sumatra coffee.
- Filtered water only – boil filtered water and let it cool briefly for about 40 seconds.
Using Sumatran Coffee in Meals
This might sound odd, but Sumatra coffee beans are ideal to use in certain meals. Its herbal flavor makes it a great, spicy addition to a meal. Have you ever thought about using Sumatra coffee in cooking?
For example, it helps tenderize meat and adds more flavor to it.
- Spice rub – for this, mix ground coffee, paprika, and salt and use it as a rub before you grill the meat. Combine cocoa and ground coffee for some mocha flavor on your rack of lamb.
- Marinades – add a little of your Sumatran coffee to your marinades and let the meat soak it all up. The result is moist and full-flavored. If you don’t do marinades, add some Sumatra coffee to your braising liquid when you cook for a nutty flavor.
- Baking option – if the coffee flavored meat isn’t your thing, how about coffee bread? These sweet or savory recipes are ideal to bring out the earthy flavor of the coffee.
Is Sumatran Coffee For Me?
There’s no way anyone can help you with this. Some people love its strong and unusual taste as well as the fact that it’s completely organic. Some, however, don’t like it at all, so no one can tell if you’ll love it or not.
It’s because of the unique earthy taste that you’ll either love it or hate it. As we said before, there’s no middle ground when it comes to Sumatra.
Still, we can recommend you try it out the next time you’re at Starbucks or Costco. You might end up discovering your new favorite coffee thanks to its distinctive flavor. We can guarantee the taste will be a discovery whether you end up loving it or not.
It’s a high-end coffee that’s unlike any other, and it might be your next favorite thing, so why not try it?
Sumatra coffee beans are unique in many ways starting from its origin, harvest, taste, and preparation process. Certain types of these beans are among the most expensive in the world. Either way, if you’re a coffee lover, Sumatran is definitely something you should try soon.
The thing with this coffee is that it’s not for everyone. If you’re someone who likes milky tastes, Sumatra will most certainly be too much for you. But if you love earthy flavors, you might’ve found your new favorite coffee beans.
Hopefully, these few things we’ve discussed were enough to get you to give it a chance. Order it the next time you’re at Starbucks or get a bag at Costco and prepare it at home.
For coffee enthusiasts, Sumatra is a staple coffee. This is why it would be a waste to go on without having the experience of at least trying this particular kind of coffee. Who knows, maybe it ends up being your number one coffee choice.