This crop of Sumatra Mandheling has all the characteristics you would expect -- low acid, flashes of bitter with sweet, bourbon-like complexity, herbal notes, spice, smooth, rich, not musty, great lingering aftertaste. This is grade 1 Sumatra but don't expect that to mean that the beans will look pretty. Sumatra Mandheling is not sorted by size, and you will find the broken beans and defects that are typical for this coffee. But don't judge a bean by it's unroasted appearance! Sumatra Mandehling is our 3rd best selling coffee every year, and we try to always keep it in stock. It comes as "Double Picked" or as "Triple Picked" and it basically means did they sort it for defects twice or three times, and I like the double picked (DP) because it has more aftertaste and earthiness -- not dirt road dusty murkiness, but rich satisfying lingering aftertaste.
The rich full body in darker roasts make it a crowd favorite, and this lot has a nice balance of flavor and forest notes. Take it dark and you get complexity, body, and smoky characteristics with tobacco and hints of spices and roots. Keep it more of a medium roast and you get sweeter and more pronounced herbal notes (think sarsaparilla root or licorice root). Blend the two roasts together if you want, and that works too. Sumatra coffee is inherently one of the easiest to roast; it is very forgiving and has so much body that you get a decent cup no matter what you do to it, although going too light (pre-2nd cracks) will get you some odd roasted green pepper tastes.
I like it roasted about 40 seconds into second cracks (20 seconds into rolling 2nds) where you get a rich dark dessert coffee, but you can go darker still, and you can certainly go lighter. It’s really hard to produce a “bad roast” of Sumatra. Put it in your espresso to give it body. Drink it all day and don’t worry about heartburn — it’s very low acid. The beans will not all be an even color, but this is due to the wet-hulled processing that most Indonesian coffees go through. You'll see some lighter shades and darker shades, but that is perfectly normal with wet-hulled beans.
USA arrival: March 2022