Earthy and full bodied, with a balance of spice, smoke and acidity. A long easy drink for a relaxing coffee moment.
Introducing itself with intense tobacco aromas and a full spicy taste, this great little Sumatran coffee settles into a pleasingly slow and full bodied experience. A solid example of getting the best from Indonesia’s defining speciality coffee process.
In More Depth
Origin: Sumatra (Lake Toba)
Varietal: Ateng (Catimor)
Growing Altitude: 1800 MASL
Process: Giling Basah (Wet Hulled)
Tasting Notes: Cedar, Spices, Tobacco and Maple
Indonesia has a long history rich with coffee, its mountainous terrain and volcanic soil provide excellent growing conditions for the coffee plant, and the hard work of farming in this incredible and diverse part of the world can really reap rewards. Way back around 1711 the Dutch East India Company sent the first Indonesian bean exports to Europe and coffee growing rapidly spread through the region, becoming a major aspect of the local economy. Coffee farming has remained a large industry throughout Indonesia’s islands ever since. For this coffee the Girl with a Portafilter has sourced beans from the Lintong Nihuta district of the island of Sumatra. The farms of this area are nestled on the high plateau south west of Lake Toba, incidentally one of the deepest lakes in the world, with a well deserved reputation for excellent crops of coffee. The farmers of the area use the uniquely Indonesian Giling Basah processing method for much of the coffee grown here, adding extra depth to the flavours of already excellent coffee beans.
Giling Basah, often called Semi-Washed is a sort of hybrid of washed and natural coffee processing, diverging mid process from a traditional washed method, and produces its own unique impact on flavour profile. By way of a quick explanation, in normal washed processing the coffee cherries are depulped, dried and then hulled leaving the final beans ready to export. In the case of Giling Basah which translates as Wet Milling, partway through the drying process the coffee is hulled (its final layers removed) early and then left to finish drying. This approach to processing has a couple of distinct effects, firstly and most noticeably Giling Basah coffee beans have a bluish tint caused by the change in chemical reaction form early hulling. Secondly Giling Basah emphasises the earthy flavours of coffee, producing deep and full bodied coffees.
This coffee certainly wears its Giling Basah colours with pride, showing a slightly uneven roast on the beans, don’t be concerned, this happens with Giling Basah coffee, unless you take it to a darker roast, which in my humble opinion loses a lot of the complexity of flavour, and with a light but noticeable tobacco aroma emanating from them. After brewing up I found a first taste delivering a hearty punch of tobacco (yes as a taste, sort of smokey in a pleasant way, trust me) over an intense but balanced spicy background. The coffee is full bodied but not overwhelming and coats the palate nicely. As the drink cools the sweet cedarwood flavour seeps through and brings a bright feel to the mix, settling into a comforting syrupy mouthfeel. This coffee encourages a relaxing drink, not bringing too much of any one aspect to the table, while remaining interesting enough to reward tasting as it cools. Arguably a little too sweet and almost fruity when it really cools down, though with my tendency to enjoy natural processed coffee I actually enjoyed this, this is a rather excellent piece of roasting work. Giling Basah is always on my must try list for those new to coffee and this example is one of the best I have tasted in a while. It takes knowledge and patience to roast Giling Basah processed beans to just the right level and the results of this labour of love are well worth sampling.
Angeliki (the titular Girl with a Portafilter) is a lifelong lover of coffee and like your humble scribe a massive coffee geek, in a very good way. She roasts by hand and to order, in small batches and spends a great deal of time and effort in ensuring that she starts with the best beans sourced from fair and sustainable coffee plantations. Her journey into coffee started with enjoying the drink itself and has led her to the challenging but rewarding life of an independent roaster. Taking on speciality coffee roasting is a complex and daunting experience and Angeliki has reached an exceptional level considering the limited time she has been roasting, her passion for what she does clearly drives her to produce superb results. For me Girl with a Portafilter is definitely a roaster to watch.
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