Myanmar isn't really in Indonesia. It is a country in Southeast Asia, nestled between India on one side and Thailand/Vitetnam on the other, the Indonesian islands are to the South. But it makes sense that coffee can grow here. They have the mountains for it, and they grow other side crops like paypaya and bananas, although historically over 90% of their crop agriculture is rice and beans.
Myanmar specialty coffee has been breaking records at auctions and scoring as high as 90 in SCAA cuppings. It was time to check out what they're up to. We were offered both a washed and a natural process, both were fantastic quality. There are a few growing regions. This one is at the very bottom tip of the country in Ywangan and seems to be where the highest scoring beans are mostly coming from. The co-op is called Mandalay and represents about 2000 farmers. Each farmer has as little as 1/4 acre they grow coffee on, so before the co-op was formed, no single farmer had enough yield to attract an international buyer.
This is a really versatile coffee. It seems to be a forgiving bean to roast -- not too picky about roasting curves and different profiles or exact ending points. And you get very different results from different roasting approaches, but none of them tasted bad in our tests. In very light roasts (20 seconds past the end of the 1st cracks), it has a honey sweetness and the taste of overripe black cherries giving it a juicy syrupy mouthfeel but also a raw vegetable taste indicating under development of the roast. 20 seconds more and you have a less intense version of the same thing with slight copper and tobacco and peppermint tastes and nice mouthfeel and the sweetness really stands out. But take it another 20 seconds and now you have a rich roasty satisfying mug, and beneath the dark roast flavor, sweet metallic, almost herbal notes, still with that full body mouthfeel. This is my favorite roasting point. And then right when you get to the verge of 2nd cracks...just a few snaps of 2nds...it tastes like a dark Sumatra. Smoky, slightly earthy, herbal, syrupy, and spiced, with a tin cup taste and slight black currant notes -- reminds me of a good Zimbabwe bean. I'm throwing in some other origin names here to give you a reference point, but Myanmar seems to really have its own unique origin characteristics here. I think we will be hearing more and more about Myanmar coffee over the next few years.
US Arrival October 2020
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