7 Sumatra Coffee Brands And The History Behind This Famous Coffee

a pileof sumatra coffee beans with their distinct blue hue coloring

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The in-depth flavor profile of Sumatra coffee beans lies in the land itself. Sumatra, an ethereal island of western Indonesia, produces full-bodied coffee beans with spiced-sweet undertones and earthly aromas.

Coffee beans have significant characteristics of the soil they’re grown in that cannot be found in other coffee beans grown in a different geographical area. 

There is more to it than the soil; Sumatra beans are favored for their unique approach for processing coffee-wet hulling and their lower acidic content. 

It’s said that a cup of coffee brewed with Sumatra beans takes you deep in the rainforest and the earthly lands of the referred island. 

This article will introduce you to the ‘Seven Best Sumatra Coffee Beans’ and what to ask yourself before landing your hand on one. 

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a picture of Sumatra coffee pods growing in the wild

What is Sumatra coffee?

Coffee driven from the lands of Sumatra, Indonesia, is considered Sumatra coffee. Its bold taste can either tempt you or make you despise it.

Sumatra’s wet-hulling technique allows it to be less-acidic with low fruity flavors. 

Despite being Arabica, Sumatra coffee beans have a dark flavor with muted undertones of tobacco, spices, wood, chocolate, and maple syrup. 

Sumatra land: Sumatra is the 6th largest island globally with around 50+ mountains, of which 35 are active volcanic mountains. The lava and volcanic ashes from volcanic eruptions infuse with the soil to increase its fertility. 

Lava transcends down, mixing with soil, allowing many minerals to get infused and breaking the ground to hold more water and nutrients. 

Not just the lava, volcanic ashes(Tepra) hold many minerals and nutrients that depart with the soil, increasing its surface area for more water absorption through chemical and biological weathering. 

Arabica beans demand high altitudes grow desirably. Sumatra’s mountain range offers the optimal climate conditions, high altitudes, and fertile soil fit for Arabica beans’ farming. 

Sumatra giling Basah: Termed as wet hulling- Sumatra’s moist lands and rainy days do not allow farmers to dry the beans for an extended period. 

Sumatra thus approached wet hulling. Wet-hulling doesn’t dry the coffee seeds together; it’s split into stages.

This split of the drying stage and parchment stage gives Sumatra coffee beans a full-body, low acidity, and muted flavors. 

Seven Best Sumatra Coffee Beans

Don’t be surprised if you are introduced to unexpected undertones; the roastery that delivers to you employs the flavors, aroma, sweet taste, and yet the full-bodied, less-acidic composition of Sumatra’s whole coffee beans. 

Klatch Mutu Batak

A relatively new brand embodied to offer you single-origin Mutu Batak Sumatra coffee beans. Mutu Batak delivers coffee beans from Lintongnihuta town. 

Lintongnihuta is located near the southern shore of Lake Toba. It’s the biggest lake in Sumatra with volcanic soil and hilly mountains, adequate for coffee farming. 

This single-origin holds distinct flavors of Sumatra coffee beans, including cacao (chocolate taste), cedar woody aromas, and bell pepper, giving a spicy blend. 

The coffee beans are roasted medium and have a balanced body with exotic Sumatran aromas. It has low acidic content and approaches the traditional wet-hulling process that Sumatra cherishes. 

Pros

  • Treasures the traditional wet-hulling process that gives a Sumatran taste to the coffee beans.
  • It’s single-origin. 
  • The soil and land it’s grown on gives away a cedar, cacao taste. 
  • The coffee is bold, given the wet-hulling process. 
  • Smooth, fruitful, and earthy.
  • Zip-bag packaging

Cons

  • It comes in a small bag of 12 ounces; it’s considerably less to order.
  • Its low acidic content makes the coffee fruitful. 

Volcanico Sumatra Mandheling

Volcanico has a wild variety of intoxicating undertones, including fruits, chocolates, nuts, tobacco, citrus flavors- blueberry, lemons, dried fruits, wine, orange, apple, honey, raspberry, cranberry, etc. 

Volcanico Sumatra Mandheling has many flavors originating from the land. These include toffee, dried fruits, and lemongrass. 

The aromas empathize Sumatra’s land with earthy fragrance- brown spices and cocoa aroma. The body and the acidic resemblance is similar to Sumatran Coffee beans. 

The Volcanico Sumatra Mandheling reserve has low-acidic content, a full-smooth body with a clear aftertaste. This particular bean is medium-roasted with a balanced-body and flavors. 

Volcanica uses 100% Arabica beans to give you bold coffee flavors without the bitter taste and high-caffeine content. 

Pros

  • Unlike wet hulling and economic conditions of Indonesia, Volcanico pursues washed processing along with sun-drying. 
  • If you enjoy the herb and Sumatra coffee beans’ spices, Volcanico makes sure the aromas aren’t lost. 
  • Zip-bag packaging. 

Cons

  • It’s not single-origin. Some people prefer the original taste and strong composition of Sumatra without the blend. 
  • It’s medium-roast, so you may not experience a bold coffee taste. 

Volcanic Gayo Peaberry Coffee beans

Gayo/Aceh coffee beans are exclusive to the highlands of Aceh, the northernmost province in Indonesia. This remote island produces organic coffee beans. They are called green beans because of their eco-friendly, fertilizer-less farming. 

Peaberries are exquisite, expensive coffee bean choices widespread for their mutant single-bean seeds. 

Peaberries, unlike regular coffee beans, have a single seed inside the cherry. These beans are round, more enriched, balanced, full-flavored, and combined boost since the complete nutrition is transferred to a single bean/seed. 

Pros

  • Completely organic. It doesn’t include pesticides and fertilizers. 
  • The beans are not oily, unlike other Sumatra coffee beans. They are medium-roasted and dried well before packaging. 
  • Low-acidic. 
  • The coffee has a chocolate flavor (cacao nib) with syrup aftertaste. 
  • Additional flavor profiles include caramel, peach, and wisteria.
  • It’s a single-origin coffee. 

Cons

Camano Island coffee

Camano Coffee beans bring out the nutty and dried fruit flavors accentuating Sumatra’s undertones. If you’d instead prefer a sweet, rich flavor than an acidic or high-caffeine content coffee, Camano Island coffee is the one for you. 

With USDA organic certificates and the fair-trade supporting farmers, Camano respects and values both the customer and the farmers!

All the coffee beans are medium-roasted to bring out the true undertones. Slow and low-roasting doesn’t burn the seed, doesn’t darken its colors but extracts the rich oil that you can see as the coating of the bean. (Oily beans are not suitable for super-automatic espresso machines) 

Pros

  • They pack and deliver coffee beans within 48 hours after roasting. Talk about freshness. 
  • The beans are shade-grown to provide an optimal environment. 
  • Camano coffee beans are 100% organic and believe in natural growth rather than artificial. 
  • Full-bodied and low on acidic content.  
  • 30-days guarantee. You can return the product if not satisfied. 

Cons

  • The beans are oily. Although oily beans result in a thick crema rich with nutty flavors, too much oil can increase the coffee’s acidity, sourness, and crema. Also, oily beans can harm your machine. 
  • It doesn’t come sealed in a zip bag that can affect the overall freshness of your beans. 

Copper moon Sumatra

The dark roast, Copper moon coffee, offers you a bittersweet Sumatran cup of coffee. Copper Moon is a small roastery collecting beans from various small, aesthetic farms. 

These practices of buying from smaller farms give them the privilege to hand-pick small batches of coffee beans. 

These practices also help small farms to grow better and earn well without struggling.

Copper moon Sumatra maintains the beans’ low acidic content while still ensuring customers with a dark taste. 

Copper moon Sumatra offers Sumatra’s authentic taste, unlike other roasteries that sweeten and add caffeine to the content. 

Pros

  • It’s allergen-free, gluten-free, and non-GMO. 
  • Real Sumatran coffee taste. You cannot miss the hints of dark coffee, earthy aromas, and mute nutty-tobacco taste. 
  • Full-bodied and low acidic. 
  • It doesn’t offer tangy undertones. 
  • Dark-roasted.

Cons

  • Although the packaging is incredible, it’s not well thought out and doesn’t come with a seal zip chain. The seal is adjusted with tape, which cannot hold the freshness for a more extended period. 
  • You might end up with uneven roasted beans. Copper moon buys beans from different farms, thus leading to uneven roast. This isn’t a bad thing, but some people make a big deal out of it.

CoffeeBeans Sumatra

Coffee beans Dark Sumatra offers the accurate flavor profile of the Sumatra land- it is dark, low-acidic, cacao, fruity, earthy undertones with full-body.

Unlike other advertisements, Coffee Beans offer the real bittersweet taste of chocolate without overpowering the coffee with side hints of cherry. 

The flavor profile also enhances the earthy and nutty flavors of Sumatra rather than chocolate and cherry, but the sweet taste doesn’t go unnoticed. 

Sumatra is low-acidic, full-bodied, less fruity, chocolatey, and more earthy. If you want to taste a rich, dark Sumatran cup, coffee beans offer this single-origin to satisfy the Indonesian island’s traditional demands. 

Pros

  • It’s dark roast but not bitter. 
  • The seeds are dry to meet your super-automatic espresso machine’s demands. 
  • The variety is Mandheling, the most popular coffee beans originating in Sumatra, Indonesia. 
  • 100% arabica gourmet beans. 

Cons

  • It doesn’t come in a sealed zip bag.
  • The bag is (2kgs). It’s hard to store 2kgs for such a long period.  
  • Rainwater-washed and has a bit of rainwater taste to it. (Some might enjoy the feature)

Koffee Kult Sumatra

Mandheling has a specialty of changing colors while aging. So, you will be able to brew a darker-colored cup with medium caffeine content and less-bitter flavors. 

The 100% Arabica Sumatran beans offer low-acidic content, with darker earthy profiles and chewy-chocolatey taste.

Koffee Kult Sumatra is single-origin from the lands of Indonesia in fair trade. 

Koffee Kult roasts its beans in small batches to give precise roast to every possible bean. It’s medium roasted to extract enriching flavors and oils inside the beans. Despite the slow roast, Koffee Kult offers no-oil beans to protect your machine. 

Pros

  • The beans are collected from organic farms. 
  • It comes in small dosage and zip bags, perfect for new buyers and moderate coffee drinkers. 
  • Balanced body with a medium roast. 
  • Roasted after order and delivered within 24 hours of roast. 
  • Guarantees fresh coffee aromas, which is evident on every customer review. 

Cons

  • It’s darker and bitter for a medium roast. 
  • The roasted beans are uneven and lack consistency with every different batch. 
picture of a mountainside in Sumatra showing the perfect geographic location for arabica coffee beans

Why is Sumatra considered the Birthplace of coffee?

Indonesia is the fourth leading country to produce coffee beans. Of which, 75% comes from Sumatra Island!

The history of coffee and its origin can be confusing. 

In literal terms, Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee, but the popularity that coffee got was credited to Yemen, which started using coffee domestically and publicly.

The popularity spread to Europe, and people started to become intrigued by its flavor and usefulness. 

This widespread popularity of coffee led to mass-scaling and business.

Yemen tried its best to be the sole cultivator and marketer for coffee beans, but the dream was short-lived. 

Soon, the dutch got their hands on the seeds and planned to grow them in India. Unfortunately, the duchess couldn’t get the coffee to India but found a new home for cultivation (Now known as Indonesia). 

The harvesting of these coffee seeds was successful in Indonesia. Soon, the duchess started coffee plantations on the lands of Sumatra and Celebes. 

Sumatra’s land, soil, and high mountains were ideal for coffee cultivation, especially Arabica beans that demanded high altitudes. 

This was the first large-scale coffee production in history. Prior to that time, coffee was wildly and accidentally grown in Ethiopia. 

The coffee in Sumatra, Indonesia was a huge worldwide impact that gave birth to the fundamental marketing and large-scale worldwide coffee bean agriculture. 

Thus, despite Ethiopia being a mere accidental event of coffee beans and goats, Sumatra gave its land to the popularity of coffee worldwide.

Coffee is the second most traded commodity!

Questions to ask before buying yourself Sumatra coffee beans

Depending on the flavor profile and health quality of Sumatran beans, these Q&As will better guide you to find the coffee beans you will enjoy the most every morning. 

Is it Arabica or Robusta?

The highest percentage of coffee beans from Sumatra is Arabica beans. Given their long mountain ranges, Sumatra has a diverse geography, making it optimal for Arabica bean growth. 

Arabica beans are grown at high altitudes in harsher conditions and for a longer period.

This extended time extracts the sweet undertones of the beans and the essential oils.

Arabica beans have less caffeine content than Robusta beans, thus leaving you with sweet coffee rather than a bitter one.  

Sumatra is responsible for 25% of Arabica beans and 75% of Robusta beans. Often, roasteries prefer Sumatra beans to balance other beans for rich and low acidic content. 

Sumatra does grow robusta at lower altitudes and is accountable for the caffeine content and natural coffee flavors. Most of the roasteries will offer Sumatra Arabica coffee beans. 

a young man po

Does Sumatra coffee have more caffeine?

This depends on the beans you chose- Arabica or Robusta.

Arabica, no matter what the origin, will deliver less caffeine content than robusta beans.

Sumatra Arabica beans are no different; they will have less caffeine and distinct dark coffee flavors. 

Arabica accounts for 1.2-1.5% of caffeine which is half the percentage of robusta beans. Robusta beans have 2.5-2.7% of caffeine. 

Caffeine enhances the real flavors of coffee and thus is bitter most of the time unless the roastery decides to add artificial sweetener. With that said, Robusta will give you a higher energy punch compared to Arabica. 

Nonetheless, Arabica tastes far better than Robusta beans because it has low caffeine accounting for less bitterness and a more fruitful, naturally sweet flavor profile. 

Robusta has high caffeine content to protect the crops from insects and pesticides. That makes it a competent crop. 

Is it lower in acid?

That’s the specialty of Sumatra coffee beans- its low acidic content allows individuals with sensitive stomachs to still taste and enjoy coffee.

High acidic content increases the level of acidity in your stomach, leading to uncomfortable stomach aches. 

People with acid reflux and intense acidity must avoid sour coffee beans in high quantities.

Regular coffee beans will have a pH value of 4-5. On the other hand, Sumatra coffee bean pH values are between 5-6 (on the basic side). 

The low acidic content can be given to the coffee processing technique in Sumatra and Indonesia.

This technique is referred to as wet-hulling. More commonly called giling basah. 

Giling Basah is the drying process of the coffee beans. This technique was introduced to Indonesia for its rainy atmosphere and economic conditions. 

Popular ‘washed’ processing of coffee beans include de-pulping, fermenting, and then drying. 

Wet Hulling has de-pulping through old-school methods, fermenting, drying about 50% of coffee’s moisture, and still keeping the beans wet. 

The beans are sold at 50% moisture content to the middle man. The middle man further dries it and shrinks the inner content to 25-30% moisture content.

The miller then dries it to 12-13%. This partial drying lowers the acidic content in coffee beans, but it also mutes the coffee beans’ flavors. 

Is it a light or dark roast?

Sumatra coffee beans have bluish-green seeds that are dried about 50%. So, the color remains faded-green or greenish-brown. The roast, on the other hand, solely depends on the roastery and the particular company. 

Whether you opt for a wet-hulling or washed process, the farmers will only harvest and dry the seeds. 

Your roastery company will roast different batches for the same coffee beans to satisfy other coffee individuals.

You can order a dark Sumatran roast and a medium-roasted Sumatra coffee bean; it all depends on the roastery. 

However, one particular Sumatran seed will direct to a darker roast, Mandheling. Mandheling has a unique feature to darken the seed color while aging. So, Mandheling will offer a dark-colored coffee cup. 

A dark roast will be darker and bitter. Dark roasts are more prone to burning down or the popular burnt coffee taste. Thus, it’s essential to roast the beans with attention, not to burn the coffee beans. 

A medium-roast is usually a slow roast. A slower roast enhances and extracts the flavors of the beans and their oil. So, on the sweet note, medium-roast will give you a tasty, less bitter cup with fruitfulness. 

5 piles of coffee beans all from Sumatra showing the different ways they are processed and roasted
Collection of roasted coffee beans. name coffees

How is it processed and made?

Despite the widespread wet-hulling process in Sumatra and Sulawesi, some roasteries prefer a washed approach. Washed process is different from wet-hulling or drying. 

Wet processing de-pulps, ferments, and dries the seeds for 2-3 weeks before packaging the roots to the roastery. 

This process leads to unmuting the flavor profile of the seed but also increases its acidic content. Roasteries who prefer wet processing usually find and support farmers since it’s more expensive and requires optimal conditions. 

Would you prefer a high acidic, fruitful coffee or low acidic, muted flavored coffee?

Depending on the choices, choose a roastery accordingly. Choose wet-hulling for earthy tones and wet-processing for abundant tones of ARabica without any suppression. 

There’s one more process to extract coffee beans from the pulp cherry- it’s drying the beans.

In this process, the beans are not de-pulped; they are left to dry in the sun for an extended period. Once the seeds have dried away, they crush out the crunch layer and collect beans. 

Dry beans will be the most fruitful beans, almost tasting like the cherry with unmuted tangy and acidic flavors. 

What is the Wet-Hulling process or giling basah method Sumatra uses?

Transforming a cherry into a dry-green seed is known as the processing of the coffee beans. 

There are four particular processes to dry the beans:

  • Wet-processing (not to be confused with wet-hulling).
  • Dry-processing (Second-famous after wet-processing).
  • Wet-hulling (in Indonesia).
  • Honey processing. 

Wet-hulling is comparatively faster than other processes and dries the beans quickly given the climate conditions of Indonesian lands (rainfall, humidity, and moisture) 

A land frequented by rain produces most of the coffee around the world through wet-hulling. Wet-hulling doesn’t demand weeks to dry out the cherries. 

So, what exactly is wet-hulling, and how is it different from wet-processing? 

Depulping: 

Wet-hulling de-pulps the cherry. The coffee seed resides inside the pulp. Depulping is the first step in both wet-hulling and wet-processing. However, wet-processing (washed process) will use modern techniques, and wet-hulling will use traditional approaches. 

Fermenting: 

The next step is fermentation. Depulped cherries are left in rice sacks to ferment for the night. Fermentation is done to remove a protective layer of mucilage from the seed. 

Coffee seeds are protected with two main layers parchment and mucilage. Mucilage is removed throughout fermenting the seeds overnight. Once the fermentation period is over, mucilage is easily removed by washing the coffee seeds with water. 

The remaining layer is Parchment which still holds 50% of moisture in the seed. 

Removing the Parchment

This where wet hulling and wet-processing take different directions. An Indonesian farmer will sell the parchment coffee seeds to the middlemen who will sell them to a bigger miller. 

This miller will dry the seed for 2-3 days on patios under the sun. At this point, the seed is left with 25-30% moisture, and the Parchment is still clinging to the seeds. 

Wet processing allows the coffee seeds to sun-dry for 2-3 weeks and then remove the Parchment (which is brittle from all the drying) Parchment protects the coffee seeds from direct sun. This is not the case with wet hulling. 

Wet-hulling will remove the Parchment in bigger pieces of machinery and then dry the coffee seeds in the sun. Without the Parchment, the beans will dry faster but will also be prone to defects. 

Indonesians follow wet-hulling because it requires lesser sun and lesser drying than other techniques that demand 2-3 weeks of continuous sun. Indonesia is prone to rain and thus can never acquire 2-3 weeks of sun. 

Although wet-hulling is risky and damaging, wet-processing might damage the seeds more in Indonesia due to frequent rain and no sun. 

Despite the risk, wet-hulling gives birth to an authentic tasting coffee that differs from most coffee varieties. 

Flavor profile: Earthy with nutty and tobacco tones, low acidic content, and lower sweetness. 

a picture of the different types of coffee roasted in Sumatra. Shown in piles that are whole beans and ground.

Types of coffee grown in Sumatra

Sumatra was considered one of the first lands to cultivate coffee in such large quantities and varieties.

These coffee plant varieties still flourish in Sumatra. These cultivars include Typica, Arabica lines, Abyssinia, and Rambung. 

These plant varieties conditioned different coffee varieties and different weather conditions. 

Typica

Typica was one of the first crops to be introduced to Indonesia. Although this crop resulted in a flavorful, bold cup, the plant was rather susceptive to insects, pests, and dying.

This weakness of the plant gene led to less usage and growth. 

Typica first traveled through India from Yemen or Ethiopia and had two widespread varieties- Bergendal and Sidikalang. 

Both of these varieties washed out from Indonesia when the land was attacked by leaf rust in the late 1880s. There are still traces of Typica found at high-altitudes of Indonesian lands. 

Typica’s bold-flavors and fruitful undertones can be a great parent gene for a cross-breed between Typica and stronger cultivars. 

Arabica lines

Arabica has two distinct varieties, one being Typica and the other named bourbon. Borbon is a mutant of Typica with low cup values but sweet flavors and a highly complex body. 

Typica and bourbon are fragile cultivars and require extensive caring and nurturing to save the crops from pests and climate. 

Both the varieties of the Arabica lines are found in many countries for their expensive cup profile. Beware they are costly, fragile, require more money to cultivate, demand higher altitudes, yield fewer coffee beans, but they are legendary. 

Hibrido De timor: A hybrid between arabica and robusta cultivar.

This experiment approached a sustainable hybrid with the caffeine content of robusta to fight off pest infestation and the flavorful profile of Arabica.

Science has achieved great things, but embossing robusta’s strength to fight off pests into arabica’s flavors is still out of reach.  

Most Arabica cultivars will have robusta’s base to support life in harsher conditions, protect the plant and full crops from pest infestation. 

Another rare mutant of typica is Maragogype, found in Brazil, has bigger cherries and is often called elephant bean. 

Abyssinia 

Abyssinia is called Abyssinia-3 scientifically. Its long berry seeds allowed people to continue farming the variety.

Abyssinia is found in Indonesia, ported by the dutch, and cultivated in Java but somehow reached the roots of Aceh, a highland in Indonesia. 

Abyssinia is a long plant with a bigger surface area and less coffee yield; the seeds of the plants are long with equally longer leaves and small brown new-leaves. 

Rambung

Another Abyssinia, popularly and scientifically termed as Abyssinia-7, is a better version of Abyssinia-3 with long leaves and cherries.

Rambung is long but comparatively smaller than Abyssinia-3, and the cherries are equally smaller than the former cultivar. 

Rambung is grown in parts of the world for its long berry-like coffee beans. Rambung is a hybrid between Abyssinia-3 and timtim (hibrido de Timor), a hybrid between Arabica and robusta.

Cross-breeding an Abyssinia with Arabica and robusta will lead to long berry seeds, caffeine content with fruity flavors.

a wooden board with coffee beans and chocolate on it showing the earthy tonrs of sumatra coffee

What is the flavor profile?

As widely stated, Sumatra coffee beans have a distinctive flavor that isn’t found in other coffee beans.

Sumatra offers a variety of undertones and muted flavors. These undertones include earthy flavors that might add a spicy, nutty taste with side hints of tobacco, herbs, mushrooms, and a wild taste. 

For any novice, Sumatra coffee might taste flat, mild, flavorless, or rude. A coffee enthusiast will know and detect the right tones without knowing anything about the beans used while brewing. 

Sumatra is full-bodied and is often regarded as a balanced seed with a smooth and clearer aftertaste.

The mild-taste is one thing that allows avid drinkers to realize the served cup is Sumatra. Its aromas and texture are the other. 

Sumatra has a richer taste with smooth gulps and no harshness whatsoever. Its low-acidic content leaves a thick, nourishing aftertaste that doesn’t hurt your stomach. 

When aged right, Sumatra coffee beans start to pick up the spicy flavors hidden inside the seed and offer a woody, herb, earthy aroma behind. 

  • Taste: MIld chocolate, herbs, spices, tobacco, nuts. Some muted fruits are also noticeable with different blends. 
  • Taste: Smooth, syrupy, sometimes muddy, milk not sour. 
  • Aromas: Earthy and woody aromas 

Difference between regular beans and aged beans

Please don’t confuse aged coffee seeds with stale roasted beans. When trends talk about old coffee beans, they are talking about aged wine, they mean aging the green seeds rather than the roasted beans. 

If aged, roasted beans will lose all their flavors and oils and will taste like thick mud. On the other hand, old coffee beans that are not roasted can talk differently. When and how to age, and what is the final result?

Once you are done drying the seeds, you can age them like wine and whiskey in big barrels in optimal conditions to protect the seeds.

These optimal conditions include high altitudes to maintain a constant temperature and weather around the seeds, turning and rotating the beans to induce air, avoiding molding, etc. 

While not all aged beans might giveaway flavorful results after resting and aging for 6-12 months or more, Sumatra beans say otherwise. Sumatra beans’ low acidic content results in good aging. 

These low acidic beans will nurture the seeds while aging, toning out the spicy undertones of the particular seeds.

Especially Mandheling coffee beans, mandheling coffee beans are considered to age as the wine.

Regular beans will have the initial staged flavors, and they won’t turn away to give additional magical flavorful hints. 

Varieties of Sumatra Coffee

Sumatra grows coffee beans in various districts with different soil, conditions, and location. Every other place will yield a different tasting coffee c=bean. As is said, the ground of the land directs the flavors of the seeds. 

The popular variety of Sumatra includes Mandheling(top-quality coffee bean), Ankola, Lingtong, and Gayo/Aceh.

Mandheling

Considered to be one of the top-quality coffee beans globally, Mandheling coffee beans are known as the aged wine.

It is said and believed that Mandheling seeds age with many herbal flavors, spice being the topmost, a more complex body with less acidic content.

Mandheling also starts to darken in color with time, so you will land on a high-pigmented coffee when ordering mandheling. 

Mandheling coffee beans are grown on the slopes of the volcanic mountain Leuser. 

This volcanic mountain is present at the port of Padang, in Aceh. Aceh is located in the northern part of Sumatra. 

Mandheling has a rich flavor profile with earthy undertones, smoky and spicy flavors. They are low in acidic content and have a smooth, syrupy taste. 

Ankola 

Similar to Mandheling, Ankola is also grown on the lands of Padang’s port. Ankola coffee beans are probably different from the rest of the Sumatra’s category because Ankola seeds go through dry-processing rather than wet-hulling. 

This dry process accentuates more fruity flavors that cannot be seen in other Sumatran varieties. Your coffee with Ankola seeds will be too sweet if you are into that kind of cup.

Lingtong

Lingtong coffee beans take their name from the land, Lintongnihuta, located in the north-central region of Sumatra, near the lake Toba. Lake Toba is the largest lake in Indonesia. 

Lingtong uses Giling Basah to process the coffee beans and yield some of the best Sumatra coffee beans with a similar flavor profile on the high land of Lintongnihuta that favors the farming of Arabica beans. 

Lingtong coffee beans are medium-bodied with low acidic content and earthy flavors, including spices, herbs, bell pepper, cedar, and woods.

Gayo/Aceh 

Coffees termed Gayo or Aceh are often regarded as the aged coffee and also known for peaberry coffee production.

Gayo coffee beans were termed so for the gayo people around the gayo mountains.

Gayo people practice natural coffee farm practices without pesticides or fertilizer. It’s a remote land and can only be traveled through roads (you might enjoy the trip to Gayo mountain).

They produce one of the most natural and organic coffee beans. 

a picture of the mountains in Sumatra that make it the perfect place to grow coffee

What makes Sumatra such a great place to grow coffee?

Sumatra is responsible for 75% of coffee production in Indonesia! The proclaimed history and high mountains are worth investing in coffee production despite the heavy rainfall. 

Sumara is the third largest land to grow and cultivate coffee in such a high percentage. With an escape plan of giling basah on rainy days, Sumatra island found its way back to coffee without a downfall. 

Environmental conditions

Sumatra has 35 active volcanic mountains and 50+ in total. These volcanic mountains lead to a very fertile soil optimal for coffee farming.

Not just the soil, but Sumatra’s air infused with ashes converse the soil’s fertility into grasping more water and nutrients. 

With high mountains ranging above 5000-6000 feet above sea level, Sumatra provides the perfect height to grow Arabica beans with ease. Arabica beans and cultivars flourish at high altitudes and constant temperatures. 

As for the frequent rainfall, Sumatra’s locals started wet-hulling to process the coffee beans without needing much sun. 

With that said, Sumatra resides with the Equator. The Equator allows and promotes vegetation with sun and rain together. 

Wet-hulling

Wet-hulling allows the farmers of Sumatra to dry the seeds even with constant rain. Although Sumatra is frequented by rain, the land still acknowledges the sun for a couple of hours, and sometimes days. 

Wet-hulling can be expensive with bigger pieces of machinery and the whole processing, but in the long run, it benefits the people and the farmers more than wet-processing. 

Wet-processing isn’t a choice for Sumatra’s people, but wet-hulling makes it possible for them to produce and earn through coffee production. 

Some districts that are frequented with the sun still indulge in dry-processing to sweeten the seed.

A picture of a Kopi Luwak or civet in a cage being used to make coffee

Kopi Luwak

Kopi luwak is another coffee bean processing technique that uses civets (the small nocturnal creature) feces as the coffee seed. 

Before you scrunch your nose in disbelief, it’s true! Civets eat coffee beans and pass through half-digested coffee beans as the end-product.

These excreted coffee beans are then washed thoroughly and roasted. 

The whole process is expensive, requiring animals and extensive cleaning. This process often indulges in animal cruelty, force-feeding the innocent creature for high-yielding. 

The controversies include fake kopi luwak being labeled as kopi luwak for unnecessary expensive sales. 

Sumatra coffee vs Arabica

Although most of the Sumatra coffee beans are Arabica, the varied coffee processing techniques make a huge difference in their flavor profile, aromas, and texture of the seed. 

Arabica from other lands goes through wet-processing (not to be confused with wet-hulling) and Arabica beans from Sumatra go through wet-hulling. 

Although the caffeine content remains constant, the flavor profile of Arabica will have various sweet and tangy flavors, including many fruity undertones.

On the other hand, Sumatra will have less to zero sweetness with muted flavors of wood, tobacco, and earthy herbs. 

Arabica coffee

  • Depending on the soil and the land, Arabica coffee will have different but sweet undertones. 
  • Arabica coffee beans have low acidic content. 
  • Arabica coffee is smooth and mouthful.
  • Arabica beans are medium-bodied with enhanced oils. 
  • They are medium-brown in color. 
  • Flawless and bigger beans

Sumatra Arabica Beans

  • The flavors are muted with enhanced earthy flavors and taste of tobacco, nuts, herbs, species. You might experience muted chocolate and cacao taste with Sumatra as well, but it’s rare. 
  • Sumatra beans have lower acidic content than Arabica from other lands. 
  • It is full-bodied and has a smooth-syrupy taste. 
  • Sumatra beans are darker in color but still not bitter. 
  • Wet-hulling may lead to defective beans. 

Sumatra coffee vs Columbian

Columbian coffee beans are mostly 100% Arabica beans with medium-body and balanced flavors. Columbia, North America, has two major lands to cultivate coffee- the Sierra Nevada and Andes mountain. 

Both of these lands have rich-volcanic soil and an elevation reaching 6000+ feet, very optimal for Columbian coffee. 

Columbia beans

  • Columbian coffee beans go through wet-processing, also referred to as a washed process. 
  • Columbian beans have medium to high acidic content. 
  • The flavor profile has fruity undertones with visible hints of chocolate, caramel, sugarcane. 
  • Columbian coffee yields a tangy-citrus taste. 
  • It is medium-bodied. 
  • They are medium-brown in color with lower caffeine content. 
  • Columbian beans are Arabica beans. 

Sumatra coffee beans

  • Sumatra coffee beans go through wet-hulling, also referred to as giling basah. 
  • The acidic content is much lower compared to Columbian beans.
  • The flavor profile is mild with earthy flavors and no sweetness. 
  • Sumatra coffee yields an earthy taste with herbal aromas.
  • It’s full-bodied.
  • They are darker in color (mandheling)
  • Low caffeine content just like any other Arabica beans
  • They are Arabica beans but might differ in the state. 
a picture of police caution tape referring to buying kopi luwak coffee

Be careful when buying kopi luwak

To yield a higher percentage of kopi Luwak, animals are force-fed, which often leads to animal cruelty and mistreatment of the creature. 

Looking at the stats, it’s now confirmed that 80% of kopi luwak is fake. 

  • Kopi luwak is expensive and difficult to obtain. Thus, many sellers sell regular coffee beans in the name of kopi luwak for a high margin without supplementing real kopi luwak. 
  • Kopi luwak is harder to process than one might consider. No matter how much you force-feed an animal, you cannot receive a high-margin per day! 
  • Kopi luwak has a low yield because there’s only a certain amount that civets can defecate.

The animals are treated horribly to yield a high amount of coffee beans. They are often left alone in cages and are only fed coffee beans. 

Conclusion

Single-origins are famous for a reason, and this Sumatra study clearly explains it. As a coffee enthusiast,

I suggest you try Sumatra as a single-origin and then Sumatra as a blended coffee. You will be surprised by tasting the authentic and original taste of the Sumatra single-origin line. 

Don’t stop there, explore the beautiful lands of Sumatra, and do not leave behind Mandheling’s aged coffee, Ankola’s dry processed sweetness, and Sumatra’s weird yet artistic undertones.