Latest Posts

  1. Papua New Guinea

    Papua New Guinea

    Papua New Guinea is often lumped in with Indonesian coffees. But it is distinct in nearly every way.

    Read More
  2. Flores

    Flores

    Flores is small by island standards, just about 360 kilometers end to end. It is in the Indonesian archipelago, between Sumbawa and Timor islands.

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  3. Costa Rica

    Costa Rica

    If there is a problem with Costa Rica coffee, it's the fact that it can lack distinction; it is straightforward, clean, softly acidic, mild.

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  4. Dominican Republic

    Dominican Republic

    Good news, Sammy Sosa ...the Dominican produces more than mild cigars. It has a tradition of coffee production that dates back several centuries now.

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  5. Mexico

    Mexico

    Mexican coffee originates from South-central to Southern regions of the country.

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  6. Uganda

    Uganda

    he variety of wild Robusta coffee still growing today in Uganda's rain forests are thought to be some of the rarest examples of naturally occurring coffee trees anywhere in the world.

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  7. Nicaragua

    Nicaragua

    Nicaraguan coffees have a wide range of flavor attributes. Some cup like Mexican coffees from Oaxaca, others have a more pronounced acidity.

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  8. El Salvador

    El Salvador

    El Salvador coffee had a poor reputation for years, marred mostly by the inability to deliver coffee of high quality within an unstable social climate.

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  9. Panama

    Panama

    Coffee from Panama was once overlooked and under-rated, but not any longer.

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  10. Ethiopia

    Ethiopia

    Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee: it is in the forests of the Kaffa region that Coffea Arabica grew wild.

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  11. Decaf

    Decaf

    Green coffee is decaffeinated before roasting. This process changes the color of the green coffee: it varies from light brown (Natural and CO-2) to green-brown (MC and Swiss Water Process -SWP- decafs).

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  12. Australia

    Australia

    Okay, it is a continent and an island. But how do you classify Australian coffee?

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Sulawesi

Sulawesi

Sulawesi coffees can be the jewels of Indonesia. The reason is that some coffees from South Sulawesi are grown at altitudes unheard of on other Indonesian islands, 1800-2000 meters. Some planted vareties are older Typica cultivars or related types like S-Linea. Although the system of trading the wet coffee before final drying can damage the cup, we have been able to work with suppliers who have mastered the elaborate coffee-collector system in the Toraja highlands.

The result is a brighter, more complex and cleaner cup flavor. Traditionally, Sulawesi coffees have been processed using the wet-hull method, in the same way as other Indonesian coffees. This process determines much of the cup flavors - the low-acidity, full body, and rustic or earthy notes. We have been sourcing Sulawesi coffees processed a bit differently, where the coffee is dried to a lower moisture as you might find in Central America, and then hulled for export. This results in a cleaner, brighter flavor in the cup, while revealing flavors that are masked over by the wet-hull process.

Torajan people are one of a few remaining cultures that use stone megaliths in their beliefs and burial grounds. This is a site we passed incidentally.. Torajan people are one of a few remaining cultures that use stone megaliths in their beliefs and burial grounds. This is a site we passed incidentally..

Sulawesi coffees will have a large dark-green bean, often with a very smooth surface appearance and little silverskin (which comes off in roasting as chaff). The cup can have moderate brightness, especially when it is not wet-hulled, but there will be unique rustic notes even in the cleanest flavor profile. This can be slightly herbal, greenish (or in a bad coffee that we avoid, too vegetal or earthy). Sweetness is found in the best Sulawesi coffees, but will have a rustic hue, such as raw honey, or minimally-processed sugar like muscavado and molasses.

The coffee was known as Celebes Kalossi in the marketplace; Celebes was the Dutch colonial name for the island, and Kalossi was the name for the market town where coffee was traded. While there is coffee grown in the southern districts near Makassar (Ujung Padang), the island capital, these tend to be lower quality. I saw coffee being washed in what amounted to sewer drainage ditches!

There is also coffee from the area of Enrekang as well as in the West, but the heart of coffee production is the fascinating region of Tana Toraja. Toraja is named for the people of the area, heralded in the past as fierce warriors and with an elaborately rich set of cultural traditions.

Coffee outside Rantepao said to be S- Line which means it came originally from India Coffee outside Rantepao said to be S- Line which means it came originally from India.

While there is coffee grown at 1100-1200 meters in Toraja, it is possible to find 1800+ meter coffee in the more remote corners of the region. Coffee is still grown on small-scale family farms, which are best characterized as haphazardly-planted coffee shrubs conveniently planted near the houses and along the paths.

Coffee production is clearly not a top priority, but rather a matter of supplemental income. Livestock (water buffalo in particular) and rice farming are of a much higher order. The side benefit of the casual nature of coffee farming is that many of the old Typica-derived varieties of coffee are still grown in the region.

Each family processes their own coffee as they harvest it, and they hold it to sell to local collectors on market day. I have seen unique forms of processing, including a kid smooshing the coffee seed out of a pile of coffee cherries on something akin to a wheel-less skateboard. Most use simple hand-crank depulpers made with a bicycle crank and the sidewall of a car tire, and with a metal-covered drum to abrade the skin off the coffee fruit.

Coffee is then fermented in buckets or bags for a day or so to break down the fruity mucilage layer. It is washed and then held in clean water buckets until market day approaches. The parchment coffee is then dried for just a few hours before it is traded, with roughly 50% measured moisture content. The collector buys by volume using a standard tin can measure. The can is measured heaping full, the farmer is paid for a level can. The difference is the profit of the collector.

I was comparing leaf shape, size and texture of supposed Line-S and other types that seemed to me to have Robusta genes.

The collector then delivers coffee to a larger mill, many of which can be seen along the road between the town of Enrekang and Rantepao in Toraja-land proper. These mills will either hull the coffee immediately (ie. wet-hull, called Giling Basah) and lay the green bean out to dry in the sun, or they will dry it down a bit more to about 25% moisture content and hull it, which is still wet-hulled.

Our sources do not do this, since it risks contaminating the green bean to remove it from the parchment shell and lay it out to dry, completely exposed.  They dry it down to a stable moisture content around 11%, just as would happen with wet-processed coffees coming from well-run farms in Central America or most any part of the world. It is then bagged in a warehouse to rest, a kind of seasoning operation to equalize moisture content. Finally, it is hulled, graded, density-separated, hand-sorted and bagged in hermetic sacks for export. The result is a brighter coffee, more uniform, and with less defective beans that produce off flavors.

There is a tendency to over-roast Sulawesi coffees. The reason is that they don't show as much roast color and have a mottled appearance up until 2nd crack and beyond. Don't let this make you think you have to roast them dark (although they can be nice this way too).

Great Indonesians will be wonderful roasted just to the verge of 2nd crack. So our opinion is to ignore the weird beans you see green, and ignore the mottled appearance of lighter roasts, and focus on the what you get in the cup.

 

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Sulawesi coffee offerings