Crop Talk with Dustin Fleming
Welcome to Crop Talk, our blog series with Barnie’s Manager of Coffee Programming, Dustin Fleming. No matter which Crop Ex batch you’ve brewed for the day, Dustin’s the man who saw it through, from sourcing to roast.
Dustin talks us through the Indonesian coffee style and Crop Ex’s Sumatra Queen Ketiara.
It’s pretty common to see the word “Sumatra” in national and local coffee shops alike. What does that mean for Crop Ex’s Sumatra Queen Ketiara?
I have to emphasize that coffees of this style shouldn’t be judged the same way you would judge, say, a washed Kenyan or a natural Colombian. The people of Indonesia developed a processing method that does affect the taste of the coffee and is culturally unique to this region of the world.
In short, this coffee is delicious. It has a very heavy body similar to a porter beer or whole milk that coats the mouth. You just know you are drinking a good cup of coffee. Due to its wet-hulled processing and the volcanic soil it’s grown in, it tastes of earth and spice with a subtle sweetness. This isn’t a bitter coffee, if brewed properly, but the black pepper and tobacco notes may be confused with bitterness. I highly recommend this coffee to anyone who likes a “bold” cup of coffee, brews with a French press or simply wants to try something new and exotic.
How does Indonesia stand out from other mountainous coffee-growing regions?
Located on top of three tectonic plates, Indonesia is riddled with volcanic mountains that spread over the country’s 17,000-plus islands. As far as seasons go, there are only two: wet and dry, although the intensities in those seasons may vary. Our new Sumatra Queen Ketiara is grown in the northwest corner of Sumatra, one of the oldest and most stable growing regions in the world.
You said Indonesia has a unique processing method. What does that look like?
The country gets up to 240 inches of rain each year and rarely sees more than three or four consecutive days without it. Local coffee farmers needed a process that didn’t require cherries to sit out in the sun for days, a practice known as “natural” processing. Indonesians developed a process called “seed-dried” or “wet-hulled,” which strips the beans of any mucilage (or outer skin) and lets the “skinned” beans dry out. This cuts the drying time in half and gives Indonesian coffee more body, less acidity and that distinct Indonesian taste.
The Sumatra Queen Ketiara has an exporter with a pretty amazing story, doesn’t it?
One of the reasons I picked this coffee is that [the exporter] is a organization primarily run and operated by women, which is very uncommon in Indonesia. The coffee industry is pretty notorious for its gender inequality. It’s actually a huge problem, especially when you get into the production side of things. As a roaster and someone who’s trying to be conscientious of this, I think it’s worth sourcing coffee from people that are doing good for their community, instead of going out and getting any Sumatra that I can from just any farm. Plus, they just produce some really good coffee.
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