Our only coffee from Indonesia, Gajah Mountain, is grown on the island of Sumatra in the province of Aceh. The consistent weather conditions means that Sumatra has almost a year-round harvest season, with fresh coffee available almost all year. We have been working in a specific micro-region Gajah Mountain and the farmers we work with are keen to let the world know they produce the best coffee.
Sumatra coffee is traditionally processed using a method called Giling Basah, or wet-hulling. It is very different from other post-harvest processing techniques like the more familiar washed-processing, naturals, honeys or semi-washed coffees that we see in Latin America and Africa . Wet-hulling means the green coffee bean is removed from the outer, pulpy, fruit-layer as well as the parchment cover, when it’s freshly picked and still wet at about 40% moisture level. Normally coffee beans are first dried to reduce moisture to around 10.5%-12% before being hulled.
This wet-hulling technique creates a very distinct flavour profile, tending to have soft, muted acidity. Sumatra coffees are often described as herbaceous, spicy, wild, mushroom, funky and earthy. What is really enjoyable about coffee from Sumatra is the fuller-bodied, syrupy mouthfeel. Skilful roasting develops a very sweet and lush cup.
We have been travelling to Indonesia to source our coffees since the early days of Union, working with various farmers on the island of Sumatra. Farmers are smallholders, living in villages located in remote areas. We have been exploring various regions in the north, areas in the vicinity of Lake Tawar and Pantan Cuaca have been our favourite coffee growing areas so far.