A couple months ago we found ourselves in need of some new coffees for our Secret Stash line. That being said, I would like to tell you what our purpose is with this line. The coffees we select for our Secret Stash are the coffees that are so good you would stash away for a special occasion, or selfishly enjoy by yourself. The coffees you brag to your friends about or bring into a coffee shop for the home town hero barista to try. Coffees not just focused on terrior, varietal, and processing, but something more; Strangeness. We want the coffee to be unique, weird, oddly likable, just like our personalities. I want coffees so unique you question if it is actually coffee you're drinking. If these goals are met what I can hope for is a cup of coffee so good it makes a memory. I want to give you a memorable cup of coffee and our Secret Stash coffees are my way of doing so.
Back to the search for a new coffee. When we need a new coffee a will contact multiple importers and basically ask them to wow us with their best coffees. This is by far my favorite part of my job. We ended up getting 8 or 9 green samples. We looked over them all. My eyes darted to a bag labeled Sumatra. Maybe a mistake? I think this because any Sumatra coffee I have had has been. . . how can I put this nicely. . . in my opinion they have tasted rough and heavy. Sumatran coffees have been traditionally processed in an old style called wet-hulled started in Indonesia.
Lets learn about the wet-hulled process. The coffee cherries are hand picked and put through a depulper. The disregarded fruit will fall to one side and the seeds, or coffee, will fall into a fermentation tank, or what I call the big tile bathtub of my dreams. The coffee will soak for 24 hours. This removes the mucilage still attached to the coffee. Coffee will then be transported to a large stone patio to dry to until the coffee reaches a 25%-40% moisture content. The beans are then put through a machine that removes the parchment, a process called hulling. Coffee is then transported back to the stone patio to dry for 5 days. Coffee will be ready for export at a 12%-13% moisture content. Drying the coffee without parchment is what gives traditional Sumatran coffees their distinct flavors characteristics like earthy, herbaceous, woody flavors with a heavy body and lingering bitterness. Hugely popular, think Starbucks Sumatra, but I prefer a lighter bodied coffee with florals and fruit notes these days. That is until I tasted a honey processed coffee from Sumatra.
Introduction. Sumatra Lake Toba Samosir honey processed. I know long name right? Let's call this coffee Toba. Sumatra has terrain unlike any place on earth, dipping below sea level in some parts to skyrocketing into the sky in others. To the northern part of Sumatra is a lake named Lake Toba holding the record for being the worlds largest volcanic lake. A caldera formed over 75,000 years ago from a super volcano eruption. Making some of the most ideal soil for coffee growing conditions in the world. Toba is from 3 estates and was processed at a family owned mill called CV. Yudi Putra at 1350 meters above sea level. These farmers took a chance and processed the coffee in a honey style, extremely rare for Sumatra. The coffee is dupulped and falls into the big tile bathtub of my dreams, but with no water. The sticky sugary mucilage covered coffee is then transported to dry, allowing the sugars to ferment into the coffee. It is then hulled still damp and returned to dry, just like traditional Sumatran coffees. So we have a new process method infused with old ways in a totally unique terrior. Sounds interesting, but I just want to know if it tastes good. Ok.
Real life actual flavor notes:
vanilla ice cream
So yeah, Toba is memorable. Grab a bag and lets make a memory.