Grown on southeast Asia’s tallest volcano, naturally dried for a unique-to-the-region flavor.
On the extraordinarily beautiful island of Sumatra—the largest island in Indonesia—a co-op of coffee farms named Koperasi ALKO offers dual duty beyond cultivating remarkable beans. The 476 small, family-owned plots of land form a protective buffer around the Kerinci Seblat National Park, minimizing forest encroachment and guarding land essential to the survival of the Sumatran Tiger.
And if that doesn’t give our Sumatra Kerinci bean enough mystique, there’s yet another dimension to this bean’s origin story: it’s processed in a way that’s typically not used in the country. Coffee quality and cupping specialist Will Gorsek explains: “In Sumatra, most coffee beans are semi-wash processed. But one of the reasons we went with this ultra-limited lot is because it’s been naturally processed, which is very untraditional.”
Around the world, coffee beans are processed in different ways for reasons ranging from weather patterns to local customs. In Indonesia, farmers usually pulp their coffee cherries (leaving the fruit flesh partially connected), ferment them overnight, and immediately after, deliver their beans to a middleman who uses a huller to kick off the drying process.
Beans processed in this semi-washed way typically dry much more quickly, creating a typical Sumatran taste that’s low acid and has a heavy body. Will offers flavor notes that defines most Sumatran coffee beans: “Traditionally, they’re known for having more of an earthy flavor: think cedar, cocoa, mushrooms.”
In contrast, our naturally processed Sumatra Kerinci from the Koperasi ALKO farms is entirely naturally processed, meaning instead of the cherry pulp being removed prior to drying, it’s left on during an entire, extended air-drying period—one that can take up to 20 or 30 days, depending on humidity.
As Will describes it: “It’s extremely labor intensive to do natural processing well. You have to put a lot of care into it.” The resulting flavor is complex and fruity, and for reasons you might not expect: the sugars in the cherry exterior break down and turn into ethanol during the drying process, which in turn slow-ferments the bean and imparts a fruit-forward wine flavor rarely found in Sumatran beans.
After a challenging trip through rugged mountain roads and unpredictable torrential rains, these select beans arrive at the Public Domain roasters, ready for roasting – and then on to your waiting cup for what might be a once-in-a-lifetime taste.