sumatra red coffee beans

The Legendary Sumatra Coffee From Indonesia

It has been popular in the world that Indonesia is a prosperous country with the large amount of natural resources. One of them is in producing coffee commodity. Coffee in Indonesia typically has a special characteristics taste. For that reason, Indonesia is included in the top 5 major special coffee players in the international arena, about 95%. The world famous coffee is Arabica coffee and Robusta coffee.

If you’re a coffee lover, you’ve probably heard about Sumatran coffee. As you know that some of the world’s best premium gourmet coffees are grown in Sumatra. Sumatran coffee is absolute legendary. Some of coffee lovers know it because it’s one of the first places coffee was grown on a large scale. That’s why Indonesia has quickly became the one of the largest coffee producing nation in the world.

So, here’s some explanations how Sumatran Coffee becomes famous and being one of the world’s finest coffees.


our coffee farmers shows red beans
The Men Behind Sumatra Coffee

Indonesia is one of the major coffee-growing regions and the 4th largest coffee producer in the world. In fact, the term java (a name for coffee) comes from the Java area in Indonesia. The islands are ideally located on the equator of the earth, and the various mountain regions provide the perfect climate and height to successfully grow Arabica coffee beans.

Sumatra island is one of the promising coffee places alongside Borneo (as known as Kalimantan) and Java island in Indonesia. The Dutch brought coffee to the region in 1699, and large-scale coffee production then began around 1884-1886 near Lake Toba, which is one of the largest volcanic lakes in the world. As time goes by, in decades, they flourished and discovered the best formula to breaking the coffee industry that we have today. And now, Sumatra has become the largest producer of coffee in Indonesia.


cracking sumatra coffee process
Sumatra coffee activity

Sumatran coffees are well-reviewed and well-known worldwide for providing a rich, satisfying earthy flavor profile, distinguished by their full-heavy body and low acidity. This low acidity makes them particularly attractive for people who have a sensitivity to the otherwise healthy organic acids in coffee.

With a body that is as heavy as the best premium coffee, many people mistake Sumatran Coffee for syrup. Despite a mild acidity, the tastes are complex and firm, and sweet tones of chocolate flavor frequently hold wood-earthy undertones. Sometimes notes of licorice and other spice-based flavors may also be present.

sumatra coffee Processing

drying sumatra coffee beans
Processing method

The most common processing method that Sumatran Coffee used is wet hulling/semi-washed.  The process is known as ‘giling basah’ in the local language. When the coffee cherries are picked by local farmers, they are depulped right away using homemade machines. After that, the beans are placed in woven bags and left to ferment over the night.

The next day, the remaining pulp is removed by hand, washing off the mucilage, and the beans are left to dry on a patio. Then, the coffee beans with their parchment are partially dried in the farmer’s yard. When the parchment is done removed, the beans are shipped to warehouse and continue to dry. Lastly, the beans continue to be shipped to a port city for exportation and dried for the third time at the port.This wet hulling process means that the beans retain a higher moisture content than other processing methods. While many other of the best coffee-growing countries dry their coffee beans to around 11% residual moisture, the ‘giling basah’ method dries the coffee beans to 50% moisture content.

Why Wet Hulling?

As we know, that wet hulling process is a more crude and a little random way to process the cherries, but one of the reasons the coffee beans are not dried by coffee farmers is because Sumatra has such a wet climate, which is great for growing coffee trees but poses processing difficulties and challenges. Wet-hulled beans are a side effect of Sumatra having such a moist climate: farmers there have particularly less than 4 hours of drying time in a single day. In most coffee processing methods, coffee beans are dried until their moisture levels are between 9-11 percent when they leave the processing facility. Because wet hulling implicates three stages of drying, the coffee’s moisture remains well above 11 percent for a long time, often until it’s finally exported.

The other side, from this kind of processing method, Sumatran coffee has unique characteristics stem that produces coffees with a very full concentrated flavor, complete with a light sprinkle of herbs and spices.

sumatra coffee Varieties

Sumatran coffee comes from a specific region of Indonesia. Most high-quality Sumatran coffees are grown at elevations between 2500 and 5000 feet above sea level. There are three main varieties of coffee beans sourced from the growing regions of Sumatra: Gayo, Mandheling, and Lintong.


The Gayo coffee is a type of Arabica from the highest-ground of Gayo, Central Aceh, Indonesia. The Gayo region is named for the nearby Gayo Mountain and is also bordered by Lake Tawar. History records that coffee was first planted in the Gayo highlands in 1924 in Paya Tumpi area, Central Aceh. Previously, in 1913, land clearing for plantation began in line with the completion of the road construction project connecting Bireuen-Takengon.

One of the things that makes Gayo coffee well-known to the world is because this coffee has strong thickness and unique aroma, due to the hereditary cultivation of organic coffee, for example, the fertilization process is carried out using compost from the skin of fermented coffee. Another reason why Gayo coffee known globally is that the production, processing, and presentation processes are carried out with high standards.


The Mandheling coffee is a type of arabica from Bukit Barisan highlands, North Sumatra, Indonesia. Mandheling coffee named after the Mandailing local natives that cultivate the top specialty coffee. This type of Arabica was first introduced by Dutch in 1833. The location of Mandheling coffee plantation has a wealth of volcanic soil and a tropical climate. This is what makes this coffee variety superior even though it is planted in areas that are not too high, which is around 900-1400 above sea level.

Mandheling is grown in the north and is respected by many to be the best coffee beans that Sumatra produces. Mandheling beans are semi-washed and sun-dried, and brew a super smooth cup with a rich, full, and heavy body. There is no doubt that the delicacy of Mandheling coffee has been recognized worldwide. Many important events of public figures serve Mandheling coffee as one of the guests’ beverages.


Lintong coffee is grown in the District of Lintong Nihuta, to the south-west of Lake Toba. The coffee production area is a high plateau, known for its diversity of tree fern species. This area produces 15,000 to 18,000 tons of Arabica per year. A neighbouring region, called Sidikalang, also produces Arabica coffee. Sidikalang coffee has strong aroma and taste, yielding a spiciness that is similar to Lintong Nihuta. It has low acidity with a sweet chocolate flavor and is best served brewed ‘tubruk’ style — or simply black without the addition of sweet sugar.

This Lintong coffee is sweet with a medium body, low acidity, complex aroma, and a unique cedar and spice flavour not found in any other coffee. High quality Lintongs are distinguished from their local relatives by their clean and brighter acidity, as well as lesser aftertaste. Compared to Mandheling, Lintong coffee has a dark chocolate taste with a bit of earthy flavor.

Another Facts about Sumatra Coffee

farmers picking coffee
Sumatra coffee farmers

Some interesting facts about Sumatran Coffee that you should know:

  • Sumatra is an Indonesian island with fertile volcanic soil.
  • The Sumatra coffee has two bean varieties: the regular bean and the aged bean.
  • The aging process provides a spicy note that only adds to the unique flavors of this type of bean.
  • Sumatran coffee plants mostly use manure without chemicals that slow down the harvest.
  • 80% of North Sumatran coffee farmers are women.
  • Gayo is the most favorite Arabica coffee originating from Sumatra.
  • Sumatran coffee becomes a very significant base for making espresso blend in America.
  • Sumatran coffee is the most popular and favorite coffee in Starbucks.
  • Big farmers and small coffee farmers grow Sumatran coffee with a land area of about 2.5 hectares. These farms work together as a structured cooperative to sell their coffee products and divide the profits equally.

Well, if you’re curious to see where your taste buds stand on one of the oldest varieties of coffee available, you should definitely give a try to Sumatra Coffee. If you’re into a clean cup with a spicy, earthy flavor profile, this might be your new favorite and friend. This coffee tends to work really well in premium-quality blends as it offers an interestingly complex base-note for other flavors.

Also, if you are interested to buying or want to know more about Sumatran Coffee, just hit that contact link and we’ll be waiting for your curiosity about this world-class coffee.

1 Comment:

  • vian

    Wow, nice articles, one of my favourite coffee until now is Sumatran coffee, the taste is good and unique I think.

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