Sumatra Blue Batak

Sumatra Blue Batak

This is one of the high-end fancy Sumatrans which used to be very uncommon but in recent years are becoming more accessible and finding a bigger market. These fresh blueish tinted beans (hence their Blue Batak name) just came into the US in January 2015 are of highest quality and were sorted three times (such Triple Picked Sumatrans generally have little to no earthy tastes, and this one is no exception). It is specifically grown on the Northern part of the island around Lake Toba which is where the sweetest beans on the island are known for growing. Lake Toba is the biggest volcanic crater lake in the world and the coffee loves the soil around it. The Toba Batak tribe lives in that area and grow this coffee. It holds organic certification.

For me the sweet spot on this coffee is 40 seconds of 2nd cracks. This is where the body is full and syrupy, and the sweetness really comes out, almost like maple syrup (the empty mug smells of maple syrup...) There are flashes of black pepper and licorice root and dark chocolate and hickory along the way, but nothing that is off-putting. It's a dense bean that can be roasted even darker. You can take it up to 70 seconds into the 2nd cracks for a dark oily Italian roast. But you can also keep it lighter. If you pull it out at Full City, maybe about 20 seconds before the 2nd cracks begin, you'll enjoy stronger complexity of flavor and even some acidity (unusual in a Sumatran bean), but you'll lose a bit of the sweetness and strength that feels so satisfying in the dark roasts. It's really personal preference.

Like most Indonesians, a pourover or french press is a wonderful way to prepare this coffee. At Full City in a french press, I find forest notes (think hickory), herbs (think rye or peppercorns) and roots (think sasaparilla). There is a sweetness as it fills your mouth, but its a dark sweetness, like a dark honey or maple syrup and part of this sensation is because of how thick this coffee feels in your mouth ("syrupy" is the term you'll often see to describe this sensation). The finish has a long long aftertaste but not in the earthy "dirty" sense that a Mandheling would leave you with, but more of a spiced cinnamon tea warmth.

Sumatra coffee is inherently one of the easiest to roast and tastes nice at most any roast level. You're not likely to mess up this roast. It is very forgiving and has so much body that you get a decent mug no matter what you do to it. However, right at 2nd cracks did not impress me. It was inbetween -- not super complex, but not super powerful...just a rather boring mug of coffee right at that level. (But we still drank the whole pot)

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