Origin: Northern Sumatra, Indonesia.
Varietal: Ateng / Catimor
Processing: Pulped Natural
Certification: Rainforest Alliance
Taste Notes: A classic Sumatran Mandheling coffee. Dark chocolate, along with the deep and rich complexity you would expect in a Sumatra Manhandling, and a thick, creamy body.
This single origin Sumatra Mandheling coffee is grown in the Takengong estate in northern Sumatra, Indonesia.
It's a G1 graded coffee, which means the highest quality (speciality) coffee beans, with no more than 5 full defects detected in 300 grams of coffee, and with no primary defects allowed. If it's not an impeccable quality speciality coffee, it can't be graded as G1.
This is a Rain Forest Alliance certified coffee, it's a pulped natural, and it's grown at 900 - 1600 metres above sea level.
If you're one of the many coffeeblog.co.uk readers who answered "dark chocolate" when asked what is the favourite thing to taste in coffee (with the "your perfect coffee poll that I ran on coffeeblog.co.uk) then this one is for you.
In case you weren't aware, I'm Kev from coffeeblog.co.uk - started blogging about speciality coffee about 5 years ago (at the time of writing), and I decided I wanted to get even more involved in coffee, by starting my own coffee brand.
I've had businesses before, but I came to the understanding that my previous ventures were unfruitful mainly because they weren't based on real passion & because I didn't actually have a clue what my potential customers wanted.
When I figured that out, I then came to realise that thanks to the tens of thousands of fellow coffee lovers who regularly read my blog posts, I have a way to find out exactly what my potential customers (speciality coffee lovers) actually want - an I had an epiphany. Maybe not as ground breaking as E=MC2, or that if you drop an apple, it bruises (that's what Newton discovered, I think?).]
The conclusion I came to, is that if I simply asked coffeeblog readers what would be their perfect coffee, I could very quickly work towards my goal of making coffee my business (which was previously my hobby), by creating coffee that my readers are looking for.
This wasn't just about taste, although of course that was a big part of it. One of the other things I discovered was that many of my fellow coffee botherers (which is a term I refer to my readers & YouTube subscribers as) were, as I am, genuinely bothered about things like the folk who grow the coffee I love, and the planet we're lucky enough to call home.
When it comes to taste, though, wow, chocolate was a big one, and dark chocolate was up there amongst the favourite things to taste in coffee, so this Sumatra Mandheling was a must.
More about Sumatra Mandheling Coffee
Coffee beans (seeds) were first planted in Sumatra in 1699, having been taken there from Yemen by Dutch colonialists.
The "Mandheling" name comes from the the Mandailing people of Sumatra. Sumatra Mandheling coffee differs from other Indonesian coffees specifically in that it's coffee grown at high altitudes on the volcanic slopes of Mount Leuser.
For hundreds of years, all coffee coming out of Indonesia was referred to simply as "Java", as the coffee was all taken to the island of Java and exported from there, all in bags with the "Java" stamp.
According to legend, coffee from the mountainous region of west-central Sumatra began to be referred to as Sumatra Mandheling during world war two, when a Japanese soldier asked the owner of a coffee shop about their coffee.
It's thought that a miscommunication led to the soldier thinking that the coffee was called Mandheling, as the coffee shop owner thought the soldier was asking about his origin, rather than that of the coffee he was drinking. Apparently this solider went back to Japan and word began to spread about this amazing coffee he'd tasted called Mandheling. Whether this is a myth or a historical account, who knows.
When it comes to varietals, Typica is still the most common coffee varietal grown in Sumatra, although there are a number of other leaf rust resistant varietals now growing in the region including Catimor, Linie-S (a group of varietals developed from Bourbon) and hybrids of Ruiru 11.
Coffee farms in Sumatra tend to be small, around one 1 - 5 hectares (about 2.5 to 25 acres), and it's common to find various varietals being grown together on the some farms. This has lead to quite a bit of natural hybridization over the past century or so.
Coffee in Sumatra is mainly processed using the method known as Giling Basah, in which the coffee is machine pulped after picking, and then partially sun-dried - the parchment removes, and then the beans left on drying patios to continue to dry. During this final drying period the beans take on a characteristic darker green colour which Sumatran coffee beans are known for.
It's partly this unique processing method that is responsible for the big body Sumatran coffees are known for.
Very dark beans and intense taste. Took some experimentation but I found that a double shot of beans (18g) plus more water than the standard double shot I get on my Barista Pro, gives a lovely, smoky taste but one which isn't too bitter. I like that way but this is probably not for the faint-hearted who just want a nice gentle cup of coffee!
Makes beautiful espresso
Firstly I have to say I like the Italian roasts and the dark Starbucks roasts which I've grown up on so maybe my review is unfair. However, I tried an espresso with sugar on a good machine with the right grind and water ratio, and upon drinking I screwed up my face and said "yuck".
I do normally like the Sumatra dark roasts too.
Sorry Kev I love your videos and respect you opinions on all things coffee, but this just isn't for me. Experiment over ;¬)
I must add though that it did make for a nice filter coffee and I've found that before that some filter coffees don't make a good espresso and vice versa. Each to their own and I'm happy to have a nice filter coffee.
Thanks for the review :-). I very much appreciate and respect your opinion, I have to wholeheartedly disagree with you though ;-). I think this coffee produces a stunning espresso.
It's not for the faint of heart, it's fairly intense, but this intensity is rich in complex flavours. It's not the same kind of 'intensity' of a coffee which is labelled as 'Strong' or 'Intense' simply because it has been roasted to within a hair's breadth of oblivion.
Each to their own, of course, we all have different palates, but I do have a couple of recommendations from what you've said, if you have any of this coffee left.
I'm hoping this may help anyone else who's having a similar issue pulling great shots of espresso with high quality coffee beans, regardless of whether they've bought them here.
The first thing I'd suggest, to anyone who usually adds sugar to their espresso who is finding a shot of freshly roasted coffee beans with sugar tastes bad, is to try it without the sugar.
While many of us grew up having to use sugar to make commodity coffee drinkable, as I did (I grew up on instant), if you're now getting into speciality coffee, you're no longer drinking this same kind of coffee you grew up on, and adding sugar to this kind of coffee might not quite have quite the same effect.
If you add sugar to a flat, simple tasting coffee - coffee which has been roasted very dark in order to get shot of various taste defects and to ensure consistency in taste from one batch to the next, you're usually simply going to make it sweeter and more palatable, there isn't much in terms of flavour notes for the sweetness of the sugar to clash with.
If you add sugar to a coffee which is teeming with complex flavours, that sugar is potentially going to do strange things to all of those flavour notes, and I would suspect it could end up tasting a bit odd.
The other suggestion to anyone who's finding a coffee that supposedly tastes great actually tastes awful, is simply to ensure you're not simply tasting the results of under or over-extraction, or channelling.
Make no mistake, properly using a traditional espresso machine, with traditional baskets, can be a pain. It can be hit and miss, and getting properly dialled in with the grind, can be infuriatingly difficult. Before now I've worked my way through an entire 250g bag and still not been properly dialled in.
Not only that, you can be perfectly dialled in but be off with your puck prep, leading to channelling, leaving you with an intensely bad-tasting shot of espresso.
You can't pull one or two shots with a new bean, via a traditional espresso machine, and conclude that the coffee is bad. You need to spend time dialling in if it doesn't taste right, and even if it turns out that that particular bean isn't for you once you are properly dialled in, good coffee shouldn't taste terrible, regardless of your preferences.
In short, if you're tasting something awful in the shot, it's more than likely that you've not properly dialled in, so you're not getting a decent extraction, or there's channelling going on in which case that's possibly a case of more dialling in required and more work on puck prep - and, I'd wholeheartedly recommend anyone who pays good money for great coffee beans, to leave that sugar bowl alone :-).
Really impressed. Lovely taste, great packaging and very more-ish. Worth every penny, great service - thank you
Really enjoying this.