Traveling through Sumatra means cupping coffee at every stop. This coffee origin values the pursuit of quality and verification of consistency. They have a good infrastructure of quality control and labs, more so than most other countries. Coffees from these small specialty coffee farms sell at a premium so they are able to reinvest in future crops and people. This coffees flavor profile is unique because the beans are grown in more of a jungle forest rather than mountain forest. These more humid growing conditions impart a deep wild flavor to the coffee.
It is humbling to walk down a road in a small mountain village, such as this one in the Takengon region, and see homeowners raking and drying their coffee in the sun in front of their homes. This is a type of garden-like farming and is very special to witness the great care each family takes in growing their crop of coffee beans. All coffees are taken from the individual homes to the Junus family mill where I was assured fair payments are made to these small individual farmers.
There is a great spirit in the IKA (Junus Family) grading room of Sumatra — a wonderful juxtaposition of good-hearted chatter and dedicated coffee grading. Eventually, I came to recognize the good-humored banter in their native language (unknown to me!) was at my expense. Hey, if they aren’t teasing you, they aren’t like you, right?! The IKA export business has been in the Junus family for decades, and today is run by a father and daughter team. While Mr Junus speaks not a word of English, his daughter is fluent in country where it is uncommon.
My stay at this small Sumatra coffee farm in Bener Mariah allowed a close look at their coffee drying method. No matter how a coffee is processed, at some point, it will need to be dried. For washed coffees, drying takes place after the cherries have been depulped and their mucilage has been removed. Coffee is dried in two main ways. The first is by spreading beans out under the sun on raised beds or patios. The second is by using dedicated mechanical coffee dryers. Coffee must be dried from approximately 60% moisture content to 11-12% moisture content. Coffee is typically dried on large patios made of cement. At Bener Mariah the sun-dried patio drying imparts a herbal, smokey nuance...