You might have heard of Sumatra Mandheling coffee, but do you know what makes it so special?
Below we cover everything you need to know, including what it tastes like and why it is one of the most desirable coffees in the world.
Where does Mandheling Coffee come from?
Mandheling coffee is named after a group of people in the highlands of Sumatra, Indonesia.
This coffee is grown near the Bukit Barisan Mountains on the island of Sumatra.
The Mandheling bean has been cultivated since 1865 by families who have been farming for many generations.
What is so special about Mandheling Coffee?
The coffee is grown in moist soils and at high altitudes (600-1,500 meters above sea level).
The soil and altitude are key players in producing Mandheling’s full body and low acidity.
Coffee beans grown at higher altitudes are denser and considered to have a better taste. They tend to be more acidic, with a more desirable flavour and aroma.
Another key player in the popularity of Mandheling Coffee is the wet hulling method used to process the beans.
This method is used primarily in Indonesia, where water is scarce.
It allows farmers to skip the patio-drying stage and get the coffee dried more quickly before the monsoons hit and ruin their crop.
The wet-hulled process, or semi-washed process, brings out unique flavours in the coffee beans.
Is Mandheling Coffee arabica or robusta?
Mandheling coffee is 100% Arabica.
Arabica beans are the most popular type of bean used in specialty coffee production and are prized for their low bitterness and high acidity.
They’re also more expensive because they’re harder to grow than Robusta beans, which thrive at lower altitudes.
Arabica beans grown at higher altitudes makes coffees like Mandheling so delicious that many people are willing to pay a premium for them.
What does Mandheling Coffee taste like?
Mandheling coffee has a deep, bold, and sweet flavour. It is well-balanced and has subtle undertones of spice and cocoa.
The bean is medium-dark roasted, creating a strong aroma.
A sip of Mandheling will coat your mouth with a chocolatey feel and hint of acidity.
While it does have a slightly bitter aftertaste, it should not be overpowering or unpleasant for those with sensitive palates.
How is Mandheling Coffee processed?
Mandheling coffee is wet-hulled processed and sun-dried.
In the wet-hull, or semi-washed process, the coffee cherries are removed from the beans, but rather than moving them directly to drying beds or patios, they are stored in plastic tanks.
Inside the tanks, the mucilage breaks down and ferments a little bit before the beans are washed off.
At this point, the coffee beans are still around 65% moisture content.
Next, the beans are transferred to drying beds or patios where they dry rapidly because of their high moisture content.
The very high moisture content of these beans during drying does not allow for a hard bean shell to form.
While drying, the beans have their parchment removed by hand but still have their thin silver skin attached.
After a certain period of time (depending on the climate), the beans are moved to a machine that peels off the dried skin and mucilage.
Is Mandheling Coffee expensive?
While Mandheling coffee is considered a premium coffee, it is not the most expensive coffee in Indonesia.
That title goes to the Kopi Luwak and Toraja Kalossi varieties, both of which are produced on Java.