Sumatra coffees – a gift of soil, geography and fermenting pulp.

Sumatra coffee beans.Processed green beans, ready for shipping.

Sumatra coffees are grown in the highlands of Sumatra, one of the largest of the thousands of islands in Indonesia.

First planted there by the Dutch in the early nineteenth century, coffees from Sumatra now have a reputation for their unique taste and subtle flavors.

In part, the difference in taste, when compared to a South American coffee, can be attributed to the differences in soil and climate. But there’s another important factor, and that is the way in which a traditional Sumatran coffee is processed.

The processing of a bean refers to how one removes the fruit pulp and the final layer of skin from the beans themselves.

In most cases growers use what are known as the dry-processing method or the wet-processing method.

But traditional Sumatran coffees are processed in a slightly different way. The key difference is that parts of the pulp of the fruit remain attached to the beans for longer.

Many experts feel that it is this attachment of the drying and fermenting pulp to the bean for a longer period that imparts some of Sumatra coffee’s unique flavors.

A favorite among dark roasters...

Sumatra coffee is particularly well suited to dark-roasting. Peet's Coffee, known for its dark roasts, played a significant role in making Sumatran coffees popular in the US.

Among all the Sumatras, the most popular and well known is the Sumatra Mandheling. Some view it as one of the finest coffees available anywhere. Others see it not necessarily as one of the very best, but certainly among the most unique.

Good news for organic coffee lovers...

Although there have been recent moves to further commercialize coffee growing in Sumatra, most of the trees are still grown in traditional, organic ways.

So you shouldn’t find it hard to find a genuinely organic Sumatra coffee.

About the author: Nick Usborne, aka Coffee Detective, is a writer and long-time coffee enthusiast. Read more…

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