Searching For Sumatra

by Dave Hoffmann September 10, 2016

Searching For Sumatra

Sumatran coffees hold a special place in my coffee "heart of hearts." The first beans we roasted were Sumatra peaberries and they hooked us at first taste. From that point on we dedicated ourselves to finding not just good coffees from Sumatra, but the absolute best tasting beans we can find -- beans that offer a real difference in quality and flavor, and that don't taste at all like typical Sumatran coffees.

By that I mean we simply don't offer beans that taste "earthy," or like the "forest floor," both common descriptors of coffees from this area. Those flavors come from the common post harvest practice called gilling bash in which the beans are spread directly on the ground or on sheets of plastic to dry alongside the road. If that's what were what we were after I'd rather just follow the advice of my third grade teacher and go out to the garden and eat worms. (ick!)

Instead, we look for a remarkable difference, something that sets one bean firmly apart from the others. In the past our customers have enjoyed Sumatran coffees with such surprisingly delicious taste notes as sweet melon rind, Fall spice mix or tropical fruits. Some years the gods smile down on us and make the selection relatively easy. At other times, such as this year, not so much.

As many coffee lovers know, just because this year's coffee tastes great doesn't mean next year's crop will deliver the same level of satisfaction.

As an agricultural product, coffee's flavors change from one harvest year to the next, for reasons as simple as changes in the weather. Differences in rainfall, temperatures, sunlight and other variables, such as harvest practices, processing techniques and many other factors combine to impact final quality and flavor.

For most of this year, we have been very disappointed with the quality of the samples we received from all over Indonesia. We evaluated a lot of them over the past seven months and had just about given up on finding a winning candidate. Finally, the stars aligned in our favor and we found our winner. It's been a long drought and we're very glad to see it come to an end.

This new Sumatra Reserve is a wonderful coffee so rather than weigh you down with more prose, I think it's time to simply enjoy a cup! We're just very happy to be able to offer it to you here.

Dave Hoffmann
Dave Hoffmann


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