Sumatra Mandheling is grown on the slopes of Mount Leuser, a volcano near the port of Padang, in the Batak area of Aceh. The Leuser Range is said to be home to one of the most ancient and bio-rich ecosystems on the planet.
Mandheling coffees are named after Mandailing people, an ethnic group in the Batak area, who go by this second spelling.
Indonesia is an archipelago of more than 17,000 islands, and Sumatra is the second largest of these. The islands were formed by volcanic activity, and their mineral-rich soil, fortified with volcanic ash and diverse plant life has helped to make Indonesia’s coffee amongst the most famous and celebrated around the world.
Coffee trees were originally brought to Indonesia in the early 19th century by Dutch colonizers, who sought to break the world-wide Arabic monopoly on the cultivation of coffee. Within a few years, Indonesian coffee dominated the world’s coffee market, though by the end of that century, disease had completely destroyed the crop. Coffee trees were successfully replanted and quickly gained a large share of the world market until the plantations were ravaged again during World War II.
Indonesian Coffees have long been prized for a particular cup profile—a delicate acidity, creamy body and flavours from chocolate and red fruit to earthy, herbal, umami and sweet tobacco—that primarily results from the country’s most popular processing method, giling basah. Or, wet hulled in the Bahasa language.
Giling Basah involves hulling the parchment off the bean at roughly 50 percent moisture content, (versus 10 to 12 percent moisture, as is common in most other coffee processes and regions). They’re then hulled and bagged and sent to rest—which is also unique to Indonesia; elsewhere, hulling typically takes places just before the coffee is shipped to the port.