Sumatran coffee comes from a distinct origin which creates its unique flavors. The soil was formed many years ago from volcanic eruptions and is rich in iron which is thought to affect its savory zest. You just don’t get Sumatran flavor everywhere except where this special plant is grown among volcanoes at a high elevation. Sumatra in Indonesia has it all. Additionally and according to “coffee legend” and Coffee Review’s founder Kenneth Davids, there are other explanations. He enlightens that there are three Sumatran processing techniques: a backyard wet method, a dry-fermenting method and the classic semi-dry method. “Regardless of which of these three methods is pursued, note that the sweet, fruity pulp remains in contact with the bean without dilution for a considerable period of time, undoubtedly contributing to the deep-toned, heavy-bodied profile of traditional Sumatras, while blunting any tendencies to dry, acidy brightness.”
Another turn in the tastiness plot, is in the drying process. In Sumatra unlike some other coffee regions, there is an “unorthodox” drying process. It happens in stages. The beans are first put out to dry for a while by the growers, then they are set out to dry by the traders and finally, they are set out to dry by the exporters in the city of Medan. Davids describes the risk, “this could be a source of the hard, mildewed taste in inferior Sumatras” but “it might also be a factor in the development of the heavy body of the best…” I have never had an inferior Sumatra.
I should add for illustrative reasons that Costa Rican coffee is awesome, too. I recall from my seminar that there is “a weed” that only grows at a certain elevation in Costa Rica with the coffee plants that provides at least some of its flavorful “kick”. Wow. Weeds grow with the coffee plant and their roots get intertwined and that delivers some of the rich fullness.
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Here’s what it takes to bring the bean to ultimate brewing readiness:
- The coffee plant brings its own set of genetics. It shows up with its sub specie attributes and a preference to be “who it is”.
- It must grow at a certain elevation which ranges from 1110 to 1300 meters for best results.
- The soil, apparently must be iron rich and of Sumatran-volcanic origins.
- Sometimes the plants even weeds that grow with the coffee can have an impact.
- There are three possible processing techniques:
- A backyard wet method,
- A dry-fermenting method and, of course,
- The classic semi-dry method.
Coming Next: WE ARE LIKE SUMATRAN COFFEE