I spent a long number of years in the industry avoiding coffees from southeast Asia. There was something about the flavor profile that I did not appeal to me. Often, they had notes that were grassy, earthy, complex, and had something to it that my palate did not understand. And, that is not without cause. The typical coffee processing style used in Southeast Asia (called “wet hull process”) is what gives these coffees a unique character. It is like trying Scotch for the first time when you’re a die-hard Bourbon drinker. It is not sweet, round, floral. It is harsh. Gamey. Woodsy. And, I did not like it.
A small mill used to remove the fruit of the coffee cherry. This one is human powered. Photo credit: Cafe Imports
However, when I was searching for new coffees awhile back, a few of my coworkers mentioned one from Sulawesi that they just raved about. “Dude, it’s like blackberries and chocolate. It’s fully washed, so it doesn’t have that funk.” Skeptical, I ordered a sample. Turns out, this coffee tastes just as advertised. Here’s the story behind this super clean coffee from Asia.
Pulped and "washed" coffee dries on a patio in parchment. Photo credit: Cafe Imports
Sulawesi is an island in the archipelago country of Indonesia; the same group that is home to the better-known islands of Sumatra, Bali, and Java. Sulawesi houses highlands that are 1400+masl, which is perfect growing altitude for coffee. These highlands are known as Tana Toraja: land of the Toraja, an indigenous people that live here. Most of the coffee farms here are small, and while farmers can certainly grow coffee well, they don’t grow enough to export themselves. Yet the variety that is cultivated here, S-795 (commonly known as Jember) has ideal genetics for disease resistance to disease, good yield, and quality cup profile.
. One of the many producers who delivers coffee to the PT Toarco mill. Photo credit: Cafe Imports
That’s where the PT Toarco mill comes in. This mill, a Japanese-Indonesian venture, creates a coffee that has one of the highest quality standards in Indonesia. Their mill focusses on drying coffee to low moisture, fully washing, and then hulling the coffee. A process that is nearly identical to the style we see out of super clean tasting coffees, like those from Central and South America.
Coffee producer delivering parchment coffee to the dry mill. . Photo credit: Cafe Imports
I think this will be one of our most approachable coffees of the year, and has notes that will appeal to earthy Sumatra/PNG drinkers as equally as those who enjoy bright and bold Colombia and Central Americas. The body of this coffee is rich and creamy, like milk chocolate, and drinks with the mouthwatering texture of a ripe melon. The acidity is soft and floral, similar to a grape. Overall, this will be one of the most balanced coffees you’ll try all year. If you’ve never had a Sulawesi coffee before, we highly recommend checking this one out.
To order a bag of Sulawesi today, click here!