Sumatra coffee just tastes different, special somehow, better. To find out why these beans stand out from all others, there are several key considerations. Are they grown differently, processed a unique way, or do they come from somewhere special? Yes, they do, and it’s exciting to learn why Sumatra coffee is one of a kind.

Where is Sumatra Coffee Grown?

Sumatra coffee comes Sumatra Island, the largest island in the Sunda Islands region off the coast of western Indonesia with an altitude of between 2500-5000 feet above sea level (Shaw, 2017). This region is the 4th largest coffee producing country in the world, with over one billion pounds of coffee being exported annually. The tropical hot and humid weather offers the perfect conditions for growing these delicious green coffee beans.

What is Giling Basha?

In the Bahasa language, Giling Basha is wet hulling, the process used to dry coffee beans. Coffee beans start as seeds that are removed from coffee cherries. When they are removed, the bean is wet. Traditionally, in other methods, the bean is left to dry until there is 11% moisture remaining then the beans are processed.

Due to the tropical weather and daily rain of the region, there are typically only 4 hours a day to harvest Sumatra beans. To get around this, the beans are allowed to dry to a 50% moisture level before being sold or transported. Once this happens, a wet hulling machine uses friction to dry the beans, which also aids in the fermenting process (Shaw, 2017). This process is responsible for the flavor profile of the extraordinary Sumatra coffee beans.

What is the Flavor Profile?

Because of the way this coffee is processed, it is famous for its low acidity. When drinking, you can expect flavors of:

  • Wild Mushroom
  • Bell Pepper
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Herbs
  • Spicy Herbs (cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom)

These favors are drastically different than you would find in coffees of other regions around the world. The high complexity and earthy notes of Sumatra make for a delicious and exclusive tasting experience for those that like to enjoy a strong and intense coffee. Yum!

What are some tips about Sumatra to Remember?

When preparing Sumatra at home, it is best to buy whole beans and grind them in small batches. Coffee found at grocery stores can sit on the shelf for an extended time, leading to muted flavors. According to the Espresso and Coffee Guide (2020), you should always buy “fresh roasted” beans and, when possible look for “Bird-Friendly” and “Shade Grown” certifications on the label. These certifications allow for a slower growing process and develop the best tasting and highest quality of coffee beans.

If you are looking for a rare and sophisticated coffee tasting experience, you can’t go wrong with Sumatra. Take a trip off the coast of Indonesia with every sip and taste why these bold flavors are responsible for such a large part of the world’s coffee consumption.