Convergent Coffee Logo

Created for Coffee Lovers.

The Distinctive Flavor of Sumatra Coffee

Dave Carter

October 26, 2020

If you are new to exploring various coffee types and methods such as dry processed beans, hearing about Sumatra Coffee might intrigue you. Sumatra is a place in Indonesia where coffee growing is a popular trade. The weather in this region is ideal for cultivating Arabica coffee and the environmental factors positively impact the coffee’s taste profile.

Sumatra produces some of the world’s finest gourmet coffee and they are known as Mandheling, Lintong and Ankola. Coffee drinkers will identify these coffees with an earthy flavor that is bold and low acidity.

Among these varieties, the Sumatra Mandheling is the most popular specialty coffee. The name is based on the people of North Sumatra Mandailing near Lake Toba. It is grown at elevations of between 2,500 to 5,000 feet above sea level in the Aceh Region and West Central Indonesian region. It is a full-bodied premium coffee and often described as syrupy. Although it is low in acidity, it still offers a complex, intense and chocolatey-sweet profile with earthy undertones. Coffee aficionados note licorice tones present in Sumatran brews.

Before they are roasted, the beans have a deep blue-green hue with a tinge of jade. Drinkers are often reminded of the wild jungle essence with every sip of the sweet, creamy and slightly spiced-up brew from the tropical Sumatran regions of Indonesia.

If you’d like to explore Sumatran coffee at home, you can buy a pack of these intriguing grounds from some of the most popular brands.

starbucks dark roast sumatra coffee

Starbucks Dark Roast Whole Bean Coffee - Sumatra​

Starbucks does not only serve amazingly delish coffee at their cafes, they are also one of the top buyers of Sumatran Coffees. You can purchase a pack of this dark roast, strong, herbally and earthly flavored brew on your next visit. Their Starbuck Dark Roast Whole Bean - Sumatra goes well with a sweet or strong breakfast such as waffles and cinnamon rolls. Starbucks Reserve also occasionally offers single-origin coffee which is a step above the regular pre-ground offers. ​

copper moon sumatra coffee

Copper Moon Sumatra Whole Bean Coffee​

Copper Moon is a brand that is fueled by all things coffee and they find inspiration in how this drink brings people together. Their Sumatra Whole Bean Coffee is roasted to perfection to bring aficionados the smoothest experience. Every brew brings out the best from the beans. This product is ideal for any occasion or for your usual morning brew. It gives you a luxurious taste and flavors similar with what is served in shops. This product is quite famous with people who are after organic brews, fair trade beans or want a full-bodied roast.​

sumatra mandheling llc coffee
Fresh Roasted Coffee LLC Sumatra Mandheling Coffee​

Fresh Roasted brand offers a popular Sumatran Coffees Mandheling that is smooth with earthy and chocolatey undertones. If you love Indonesian brews with full-flavors and low acidity, this blend is the best choice for you. It is a medium-roast, single sourced bean from Lintong coming from the Typica and Lasuna Varietals. It is processed using wet-hulling and is dried on raised beds. This product is roasted on environmentally friendly roasters, it came from sustainable coffee production and is Kosher certified.​

amazon fresh sumatra coffee
AmazonFresh Organic Fair Trade Sumatra Ground Coffee​

Amazon has their own line of Fresh Organic Trade Fair Coffee and of course, Sumatra is one of them. The company promises only the best from the freshest beans to give lovers a satisfying experience. The beans are expertly roasted and immediately packed with a one-way freshness valve to seal in its flavors and aroma. AmazonFresh Organic Trade Fair Sumatra Ground Coffee has a rich, bold brew. It is a perfect choice for making smoky and chocolatey espresso in a cafe or at home. Amazon guarantees quality grounds that are sourced and curated from Sumatran coffees experts.​

organic coffee co sumatra mandheling coffee
The Organic Coffee Co. Sumatra Mandheling​

Last, but not the least on our list is The Organic Coffee Co rendition of the popular Sumatra Mandheling. The company brings you Indonesia’s classic Arabica cultivated on the Sumatran farms and carefully processed single-origin beans. It provides a full-bodied flavored paired with such an enthralling aroma. This product works great with various brewers, thus you can prepare a cup using an espresso maker, drip machine, Aeropress, Moka Pot or the French Press. The Organic Coffee Co assures that their products are sustainably sourced and eco-friendly farmed whether you’re getting it whole roasted beans, ground, flavored or decaf. It is USDA Certified Organic and Kosher Certified too.​

What is Sumatra Coffee?​

When you talk about Sumatra, images of exotic island locations instantly crop up. It brings much intrigue and excitement to any coffee lovers seeking to explore new flavor profiles. First off, Sumatra is indeed a tropical island in Indonesia. It is one of the greater Sunda Islands along with Borneo, Java and Sulawesi. It was in 1699 when Dutch colonists introduced coffee cultivation to the people. The temperate climate and fertile soil surrounding Lake Toba in the region spurred mass production in 1884.

The industry flourished and created what could be the modern brew that we have today. Apart from Sumatra, Ethiopia is the only other country that has a rich and long history of coffee cultivation in the world. And at present, Sumatra is included in the world's largest producers of Arabica beans in the US and European countries.

Sumatran coffee in the modern day is easily sourced from various providers and cafes. You can take home a pack of fresh ground beans so you can prepare your own brew with your coffee maker Cuisinart anytime of the day.

What Makes Sumatran Coffee Special?​

Several factors influence a coffee’s flavor profile. For new drinkers, it doesn't really matter where coffee comes from when you are still exploring different varieties. But over time and the more you drink it, you’d be able to tell a distinct flavor. For instance, Sumatra coffee is described to have a full-bodied, syrupy flavor. You may find notes of jasmine, blueberry and chocolates. How does this happen?

The coffee plant is not a native of Indonesia, but it did adapt well to the region’s environment. Sumatra’s fertile volcanic soil and tropical climate made it an oasis for growing Arabica coffee variety. More so, the varying sunny and wet days created a lush growing environment for the beans. Sumatra is also a place located in high altitudes. Premium Arabica beans grow unbounded in such locations and give it that enticing and unique flavor profile that is prominent when brewed using the best coffee French press.

Another factor that makes this brew special is the Wet-hulling process also called ‘Giling Basah’. Although soil, climate, altitude and roasts impact the flavor profile, the hulling process or what happens before roasting also influences how your coffee tastes.

This phase is also what creates the divide among aficionados when it comes to Sumatran coffee flavors. Classic or authentic beans from this region is known to undergo a process called wet-hulling or “Giling Basah.” It brings out the unique earthy and herbal flavors that comes with most Sumatran coffee.

When coffee undergoes giling basah or is wet hulled, people use homemade machines to remove the berry skin from the beans soon after it is harvested. The fruit remains intact and are placed in woven bags to ferment during the night. The following day, farmers will hand-wash the remaining fruit meat from the beans. Then it will be dried in its parchment before they are transferred to a warehouse where the crumbly parchment layer will be removed. The beans will be dried finally before they are brought to a port for export.

But in contrast to their process, some farmers dry up the beans soon after picking. It will keep the beans moist longer and create that complex flavor profile. Wet-hulling on the other hand is more prominent due to the wet Indonesian weather. Dry processing is normally challenging in such weather conditions. Additionally, wet-hulled beans are typically more delicate with more balanced and clean brew.

Why is Sumatra Coffee So Good?​

The Sumatran region of Indonesia is one of the first locations for large-scale coffee growing. This bean has depth, body and flavors that brings out mixed reactions from coffee lovers around the world. Like any other grounds, it is easy to prepare using any of the top 5 coffee makers. We have previously discussed the key flavors of this unique bean and most drinkers describe it to be an “old school” flavor. On the other hand, the flavor varieties depend on how the beans are roasted. In most cases, Sumatra beans are roasted dark.

New generations of coffee drinkers may find Sumatran blend a little odd tasting. It is because of the distinct classic, bold and dark flavors that people in the pasts have always enjoyed. For those who loved the old charming taste of coffee, Sumatra will always taste so good.

Distinctive Flavors of Sumatra Coffee Beans​

Sumatra coffee beans’ distinct flavors makes it one of the best coffee beans for many aficionados. On the other hand, many drinkers also find its taste a bit too different from their preference. In some cases, the wet-hulling process that Sumantran varieties undergo changes the flavors drastically when compared with other coffee beans from other regions.

These beans are less acidic and have lower brightness. The flavors are more focused on earthy notes which can include herbs, wild mushrooms, moss, and balsamic vinegar. For some connoisseurs, earthy tones and vegetable notes are not good in coffee. It normally connotes that something is not right in the process, thus, it is a lower quality coffee type.

However, in the case of Sumatran coffee beans, this earthy profile does not point to being wrong or dirty. It has a clean, and unique taste close to intensity with high-quality scotch. And while it has the earthy mossy profile, the flavors are very complex and many people have learned to delight in its taste.

What Is Aged Sumatra Coffee?​

Coffee is a well-loved drink anywhere in the world. At present, there is a growing market for aged coffee which connoisseurs hypes to be akin to wine that is aged to perfection. Although doing this makes some types better, there are also others which repacks stale items as specialty aged coffee. Though some people say that coffee ages well, it is a highly debatable subject. Others also claim that older coffees produce a better brew. But we really need to know what is in coffee that is age that makes it different.

Technically, only a few types of coffee ages well. Aging coffee requires the perfect circumstances otherwise, they will lose the oils that preserve its flavor and aroma. If the oil dries up, the coffee bean will become stale and tasteless.  More so, experts share that coffee does not age like wine, thus the taste does not improve as you keep it for a longer time. It will only lose its flavor as it ages.

Green unroasted coffee beans are the only type of coffee that you can age for some time. It is high in body with low acidity level, but it may not apply to all green coffee beans. Some good candidates for aging are those that come from India and Sumatra. Aged Sumatra coffee and even Sulawesi varieties may develop a spicy and unique flavor profile when they are aged. More so, Latin American beans that are bright and wet-processed also age well as they mellow over time.

Aged Sumatran coffee and other good aged brands do not taste like stale brew. It has that certain oomph and fuller bodied flavor without being too acidic. On the other hand, it may have that “funky” taste from storage. Aged coffee from the Aceh region or from Lake Toba can be smoky, mellow, winey, woodsy or oaky depending on its storage container. Part of what makes aged coffees special is that each batch is different and it makes them extra interesting to drinkers.

Aged Sumatra coffees are typically kept in special warehouses that are humid but well-ventilated. These beans will stay in storage for a minimum of two years to increase body, mute acidity and introduce a mild to intensely pungent note depending on the processing method of the coffees.

Is Sumatra coffee good for espresso?​

Although you can use any type of roast for brewing on your espresso machine, the best ones to use are the dark and rich roast. It will give you a consistent taste that you can expect from espresso. Sumatran coffee is a good choice if you like strong punchy coffees. It will give intense flavors when you use it for your espresso.

How is Sumatra Blend Coffee Made?​

Coffee Sumatran blends use the traditional processing method to keep its unique flavors shining in every brew. Compared to other coffee cultivating sites, coffee is washed at the station in Sumatra. A factor that affects its wet-hulling process is the often rainy climate in Indonesia. Coffee farmers find it harder to dry the product before hulling. Thus, the coffee beans have a more earthy taste and a less acidic level. Connoisseurs will experience an enhanced mouthfeel with muted notes of berry and fruit.

For some aficionados, this unique taste in Sumatra coffees is not as appealing. But those who like their brew strong and dark, the intense roast flavor of this blend makes it an ideal reason for them to learn how to make drip coffee.

Moreover, the best way to enjoy this blend is to start brewing it within three months of harvest. Its crude processing gives it a shorter shelf life compared to other types of brew  that are dry processed.

10 Best Coffee Machines

The Best Coffee Machines that You Can Buy Online.
Extensively Reviewed by a Coffee-Enthusiastic.

Show Me the Best Products NOW
espresso machine reviews


Coffee is an essential product that is consumed in every part of the world. There are certain regions that have become popular for their unique coffee bean taste and profile. One of these locations is Sumatra in Indonesia, a place known for coffee production. This place provides the perfect cultivation elements that influence the bold taste and intense flavors of the Sumatra Coffee. Coffee lovers are divided on how this coffee scores for them. Its unique earthy, pungent and herbally-notes makes it undesirable for some, but others love its flavor profile.


illy classico whole bean medium roast TOP 7 Best Coffee Beans

Enjoy an excellent taste with one of our reviewed coffee beans.

Show me the Best Products NOW
logo black is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to