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Sumatra Coffee

Sumatra Coffee

If you love coffee, Sumatra could be the reason. If you prefer tea, Sumatra could also be the reason. Sumatra is one of those coffees that divides coffee consumers all over the world. Like licorice, olives, or Sauvignon Blanc, someone’s trash is someone else’s treasure. This July we’re highlighting our single origin Sumatra. What makes the name so recognizable? Why is the taste so specific? And why we love it here at Dilworth.



As the story goes, in the late 17th century, before coffee was a global crop, some folks working for the Dutch East India Company hatched a plan. A governor from the company stationed in Malabar, India sent an arabica seedling from Ethiopia to another governor in Jakarta (present day Indonesia). A company official named Hendrik Zwaardecroon, who had grown a few coffee plants in Sri Lanka, oversaw the seedlings growth in the fertile volcanic soil on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. The trading company had the perfect land and system to grow the crop and sell it in European markets. Indonesia was the 3rd place to start growing coffee on a global scale.

Indonesia is a country of 17,000 islands and more than 300 volcanos. With a high level of humidity, rich soil, and high elevation, the island nation is a prime location for coffee growing.

In the late 1800’s, disease ravaged many of the plantations around Sumatra and destroyed the Indonesian coffee industry. Gradually, the Dutch farmers moved out as the East India Company dissolved from financial ruin, and local Sumatran farmers took over the farms. They split up the land into small personal farms where each farmer or family controlled and grew their own coffee.


Sumatran coffee is processed in a unique way called wet-hulling or Giling Basah. The outer layer of skin is removed from the fruit immediately after harvest while they are still wet. Fermentation is allowed to happen for a short time in a sealed bag, about a day, and then the cherry is washed and dried.

This unusual, and technically “wrong” processing method was born out of necessity. Why? Due to the very wet and volatile climate in Southeast Asia, there often is not enough dry sunlight in the day to dry the coffee beans, as opposed to Central or South America where sunlight is abundant and easily planned around. Sumatran farmers often only get 4 hours of consistent sunlight every day. This drastically increases the moisture content of the coffee cherry.


This unique way of processing, and volcanic soil, combined with the very particular growing climate and elevation, gives Sumatran coffee a flavor and aroma that is identifiable all around the world. The name Sumatra is so strong because the flavor and taste of the coffee is so strong. Fair enough, right? When it’s roasted properly and with care, there are notes of pipe tobacco, rich cocoa, dark earth, smoke, and cedar wood. Some growing areas produce beans that boast a greater acidity and even tropical fruit notes.

We roast our Sumatra on the darker side. On the palate , our Sumatra is robust, full-bodied, rich in creamy pipe tobacco and semi-sweet cocoa. A distinct taste that you will soon not forget, and hopefully crave more and more.

The name Sumatra has a special place in the hearts of all coffee lovers, with a flavor so unique and recognizable, you’re missing out if you’re yet to try it. Coffee loves Sumatra, and Sumatra loves coffee. It’s like they were practically made for each other.

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