CUP SCORE 88.75 (SCA cup protocol)
suggested for espresso and filter
We roast to order all coffees on Wednesday and Saturday, dispatching on next working day. Cut-off time is 8am UTC+1
THE STORY BEHIND
The Gayo Megah cooperative has 71 members who grow their organic coffee on plots of around one hectare at an altitude of 1,500 to 1,600 metres above sea level. situated between Takengon and Lake Tawar. The coffee varietals are mainly bourbon with some P88, all of which is grown organically.
This coffee lot is semi-washed in the traditional Indonesian method, known as Giling Basah or “Wet-hulled” giving to it a unique bouquet of aromas and flavours. We selected it for its incredible clarity and deepness along with a creamy body, showcasing again the true potential of Indonesian coffees.
A very deep and full bodied coffee is the result with a tangerine sweetness lacing heavy chocolate. The harvest takes place between October and July and the coffee is stored in GrainPro sacks for shelf life longevity.
Coffee was planted in Sumatra by Dutch colonialists in the late 1600s under the guidance of the Dutch East India Trading Company - or Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie (VOC) for our Dutch readers! Between 1602 and 1796 the VOC sent almost a million Europeans to work in the Asia trade on 4,785 ships and netted for their efforts more than 2.5 million tonnes of Asian goods. With Europe’s ever increasing thirst for coffee at that time this commodity played an important role in the trade of Indonesia, as indeed it does today. Following early success in Java coffee was then introduced to Sumatra, initially to the northern region of Aceh around Lake Tawar. Today coffee is still widely produced in these northern regions of Aceh (Takengon, Bener Mariah) as well as in the Lake Toba region (Lintong Nihuta, Dairi-Sidikalang, Siborongborong, Dolok Sanggul, and Seribu Dolok) to the southwest of Medan. Aceh has seen much civil unrest throughout its history but most recently due to guerrilla activity organized under the Free Aceh Movement; as a result many farms were abandoned as farmers migrated to escape the unrest. Incredibly the devastation of the 2004 Boxing Day earthquake and tsunami did provide a silver lining as it focused international attention on Banda Aceh. Subsequent aid spotlighted the region and served to bring relative peace to Aceh for a time; now farms are being revitalized via new planting and pruning and hope is returning. The arabica varietals planted in Indonesia were initially typica and bourbon. Typica is still the most common varietal found in Sumatra although there are also a few others that have been planted over the years, including Linie-S, caturra, catimor and hybrids of Rue Rue 11. The first Linie-S plantings came about when the coffee research institute in Java began looking for strains that were both disease-resistant and consistent in production. In an attempt to alleviate the swing in production from crop to crop Linie-S was planted, a variety prized for its heartiness and minimal dieback; Robusta is also widely grown across the island. The average farm size in Sumatra is small, just one to five hectares across the country and different varietals can often be found growing together. Over the last 50 to 100 years this has led to hybridization; natural crossbreeding has produced a variety known locally as Berg en Daal.
THE FERMENTATION PROCESS
In the Bahasa language of Indonesia, Giling Basah means "wet hulled." That's not very exciting by any measure, but it refers to a part of the coffee process that is specific to Indonesia and creates a signature flavour.
Indonesia has islands that have historically produced wet-process coffees: Java, Bali, Flores. But the biggest origin, Sumatra, as well as Sulawesi, have typically produced Giling Basah, wet-hulled coffee.
Wet-hulling shares the same initial steps as wet-processing. In much of Indonesia it is small-holder farmers who carry out the first steps of the process. Farmers pick the coffee and pulp it, which means that they run it through a hand-crank drum with a surface like a cheese grater that peels off the skin of the fruit.
The farmers don’t want to wait until the coffee beans reach 11% of humidity because they want to get paid quickly. They want to do as little work as possible to process the coffee and get cash. So they take their clean wet parchment coffee, dry it a few hours until it has 50% moisture content, and sell it to a collector middleman at a local coffee market.
The mill might dry the coffee a little bit more for a day or two, but in general they send it to a special machine (the wet-huller) when the coffee still has 25-35% moisture content. This machine uses a lot of friction to take the tightly attached parchment layer and tear it from the water swollen green bean, which at this stage is often white and looks nothing like the green bean we finally see.
After hulling the coffee is laid out to dry, totally unprotected by any outer layer, on a patio, on a tarp, on the road, or sometimes on the dirt! Drying without the shell is rapid, so the mill is able to sell the coffee and get paid quickly. In no other coffee origin would they consider laying the green bean out to dry without the parchment shell protecting it.
Coffees that are dried well, with an even and slow loss of moisture, will last longer when they arrive at the importing country; good tastes won't fade quickly into papery or burlap bag flavors