The Pride of Indonesia: Sumatra Mandheling Gourmet Coffee

by That's Coffee on May 25, 2011

A common gourmet coffee bean from Indonesia is the Sumatra Mandehling, known as one of the world’s most distinctive coffees.

Sumatra is the area in Indonesia where coffee production began in the 18th century under Dutch colonial domination. Mandheling is the Indonesian ethnic group involved with the coffee production.

Normally coffee is named after its region of origin. Legend has it that a Japanese military officer stationed in Sumatra asked a local where the coffee was from.  The local, confused by the question, answered ‘Mandheling’ as he thought the soldier was inquiring about his ethnicity. The name stuck as word got back to merchants in Japan and is still used to classify the bean to this day.

Regardless of the mix-up, Sumatra Mandheling meets gourmet quality coffee standards and contributes to Indonesia’s small production of Arabica beans (only 15% of Indonesian beans are Arabica).

The Dutch East India Trading Company

Indonesia is rich in coffee heritage. In 1835, Dutch coffee and spice traders brought the coffee plant to Indonesia in attempts to break the Arabic monopoly of coffee production. Indeed, they established the region’s coffee reputation with the intent of exporting the coffee for the Dutch East India Trading Company. This would provide profits as the coffee was so highly valued. For over 200 years, the Dutch successfully held a monopoly on the global coffee market.

The great tasting coffee bean has faced several hardships throughout its existence including  the fall of the Dutch East India Trading Company, the Leaf Rust epidemic in the 1880’s and political confrontations. The Arabica coffee trees producing the favored Indonesian Sumatra Mandheling coffee bean was also hidden for over 100 years in Sumatra’s lush jungles before being discovered again.

Roasting Indonesian Coffee Bean

Anyone roasting Indonesian green coffee beans must know that they do not show as much roast color as other coffee beans. Thus, it is quite easy to over roast the bean. The perfect medium-dark to dark roast will bring out the coffee’s sweet taste in the midst of its earthy qualities.

The Chocolate Lover’s Coffee

Sumatra Mandheling coffee has a syrupy chocolate feel and a rich brown sugar taste, creating a full-bodied texture. It also features a slight black peppery finish in light of its low acidity.

A great way to evaluate Indonesian Sumatra Mandheling coffee beans is to try them yourself. The most popular varieties include Gourmet Sumatra Mandheling, which features a heavy, complex syrupy flavor.

“Sumatra Mandheling Coffee Beans”
courtesy of
your online coffee bean store;
Gourmet Coffee Beans

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