Sumatra has been a core coffee for years. Thinking back, it has been in our offering for over 15 years. Sumatra coffees are processed in a unique way that lends them a sweet tobacco flavor that translates well as a darker roast. The processing is called “giling basah” or “wet-hulled” and it is not really used anywhere else in the world expect Sumatra. Over the years, we have had a variety of Sumatra coffees, including a Special Reserve Triple Picked Sumatra.
However recently, Indonesia has had a fair share of natural disasters. Unfortunately, several of those slammed into the region in 2018, including an earthquake, tsunami, fires and floods.
The combination of natural disasters have also rocked the coffee trade. With the devastation, not only were coffee trees lost, but maybe more critically, the roads and infrastructure to move and process the coffee. Prices soared as inventory dried up. What was available was inferior quality and very expensive coffee.
That is always the conundrum…quality vs price. It does have a unique flavor, but the vast majority is not the best quality. We have certainly been forced to buy less that amazing coffee because of our historic ties to this taste profile. However, we can’t justify the price for the current quality. We can buy really amazing Kenyas, Ethiopians, Costa Rican and Colombian coffees that taste phenomenal for less that we can buy a mediocre Sumatra. Faced with that decision, we decided to say a bittersweet “Goodbye” to Sumatra as a core coffee. It does make room for a new core coffee and we are excited to announce what that will be in the coming weeks.
Hopeful the Sumatra crop will rebound over the next year or two. In the meantime, we recommend the Brazil as our core darker profiled coffee.