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This week Kinser and Kent take on Sumatra, an Indonesian island in Southeast Asia. Sumatra is the largest island that is located entirely in Indonesia the 4th largest island entirely within a country and the sixth-largest island in the world. It is the closest Indonesian island to mainland Asia. Discriminating coffee drinkers have long placed Sumatra coffee at the top of the list of the best coffees in the world.

About four years ago when Kinser first experienced the deep earthy, herbal, and spice flavors of Sumatra, his palate was not yet prepared for the bold strong flavors that gripped tightly to his tongue. At the time it wasn’t an enjoyable experience, and it wouldn’t be till 4 years later that his scared palate would be ready to be challenged once again by the Indonesian island. Kent on the other hand already had the bag out of the box ready to brew.

Their Goal

Today we are going to brush over the region of Mandheling Sumatra, get to know the origins of Parisi Artisan Coffee, and discover which brew method that will yield the most flavorful well-balanced cup of this week’s coffee. They will be using three different brew methods, the Clever, Chemex, and Hario. After our results, we will pair the winning brew method with a delightful treat selected and baked just for a Sumatra coffee.

Parisi Artisan Coffee

Opening the bag of Sumatra MandhelingParisi, is a coffee roasting facility that opened its doors in 2006 in Kansas City. Up until 2011, Parisi coffee was only available in quality restaurants and grocery stores. With their belief that coffee should be treated with care and selected purposefully to be an ideal complement in every social occasion, it inspired them to pair their love of coffee with fine foods in the dining experience. It was their Sicilian grandmother that instilled in them a deep sense of “coffee as a tasteful part of daily life.”

Parisi is an exclusive specialty coffee roaster that pays above fair-trade prices for the ingredients they source. They source fair trade and organic certified coffees as well as Rainforest Alliance and shade grown offerings. With this direct relationship, it brings the ability to know names, faces, and needs of the people with whom they work with. For the proud owners of Parisi, Joseph and Salvatore Paris’,

“Great coffee is motivational. Inspirational. Timeless moments are often shared over a cup. So we take our coffee seriously. Selecting, roasting and brewing it right is an art. Parisi Coffee is our proud, passionate homage to our Italian heritage. It’s also our way to share our delicious traditions with you, so you can start your own. Sip, savor, enjoy a good life.”

Sumatra Manheling

Map of Sumatra Mandheling

Photo by: Peak City Coffee Roasters

Sumatra Mandheling coffee is one of the common four types of Sumatra coffee. While most coffee is named after the growing region or the country, Mandheling coffee is named after the Mandheling people that traditionally farmed and processed the coffee beans. A WWII Japanese military man stationed in Sumatra is said to have asked a local Sumatran where his coffee originated, but the Sumatran man mistakenly thought he was being asked about his ethnicity and replied “Mandheling”. Later, word spread to Japan, and then the name stuck as merchants began inquiring about the purchase of Mandheling coffee from Sumatra. Mandheling is produced in Pandang, a small island that is part of Indonesia, close to the Sumatra coffee district, where 65% of the coffee is grown. Coffee trees were brought to the island in the early 19th century to break the near monopoly on coffee beans from other parts of the world. Mandheling Sumatra coffee is grown in altitudes of 2,500 to 5,000 feet. Mandheling has low acidity, bold, highlights of a chocolate and caramel taste and earthy flavor.

A word from our Mistobox Curator

Samantha our Curator will give a quick overview of this week’s coffee.

“This is the Sumatra Mandheling brought to you by Parisi Artisan Coffee. A classic Indonesian flavor profile, with a big body and rustic characteristics, this coffee was sourced from the coffee growing region on Mandheling in Sumatra. This coffee is full bodied with a classically earthy and herbal flavor profile.”

With, with no further ado, let’s brew!

This week’s coffee overview

Clever DripperA side note, this week the French Press brew method will be replaced with another immersion brewer called Clever Dripper. The Clever Coffee Dripper is one of the easiest brew methods out there, offering the benefits of pour over and French press brewing without the drawbacks of either. This is achieved through the Clever’s conical build (similar to a pour over) and by retaining the water and coffee grounds within the brew chamber (in the style of a French press) until the draining valve is activated. This allows you to have full immersion and still utilize a filter to catch any sediment. The Clever Coffee Dripper is ideal for those who enjoy full-bodied coffees that maintain a high level of flavor clarity.

1. Hario V60-medium to fine grind

  • The aroma did not change much from when Kinser and Kent first opened the bag of Sumatra, during the bloom, or even after it was brewed. The smell was a strong heavy earth and herbal aroma with a hint of spice. The body of the coffee felt heavy on the tongue and the taste matched the smell except for the spice. The spice seemed to dance out a bit, but just for a moment. The spice can be described as a mixture of anise (A pungent, sweet, brown, caramelized aromatic that may contain petroleum, medicinal, and floral notes) and a hint of pepper sweetness. As far as the acidity, it hung out on the tongue for a bit longer than the other brew methods. Overall, not a bad cup but it left Kinser and Kent wanting less earth and perhaps more of the spice experience.

2. Chemex-medium grind

  • Next up, the Chemex! For strong coffees like the Colombia and Sumatra, the Chemex’s thick filter can be a saving grace by hindering the over bearing strong taste that isn’t appealing on the palate and in return exposing the sweeter flavors that we want more of. With the aroma, the Chemex brought out the power of the spice. Which was great! The body wasn’t as heavy on the tongue as the Hario. It felt just right. The taste, OH MY, the spice takes over and does it quite nicely and it was followed by a bright acidity. A high acidity was there only for a moment. Was this the cup that Kinser and Kent hoped for?

3. Clever Dripper-medium-coarse grind

  • Up until now, Kinser and Kent had been using the French Press for an immersion style brew method, but this week it was time to introduce the Clever Dripper. Kinser discovered the Clever Dripper a few years back at a local coffee shop during one of his Coffee Crawl Events. That coffee shop had the Clever Dripper method down to a science and it delivered an excellent experience and memory for him. Like the Chemex, the Clever held back the earth aroma but brought out a spicy herbal sweet smell. The body on the other hand felt more like what the Hario delivered, a bit heavy. The taste was not matched by the smell this time. The earth taste stood out more for sure, but with a slight hint of nutmeg. Not wanting a strong presence of earthy taste, the acidity didn’t help by hanging around longer than it should of have. What started off promising slowly took a downturn for Kinser and Kent as far as an enjoyable cup.

In Conclusion

This was a coffee with a lot of character. It produced mixed emotions among Kinser and Kent. Even though Kinser had his doubts from his first encounter with Sumatra a few years back, Parisi Artisan Coffee created a masterpiece. Kinser felt an appreciation of all things that go into a cup of coffee especially today with the Chemex. The Chemex stole the show and produced a beautiful cup of Sumatra. It was almost magical.

The Pairing

Monkey Bun!This pairing was probably one of the best as of date. Enter the Monkey Bun! This is a ball of sticky sweet cinnamon deliciousness that gave the Sumatra a power boost! It pulled out spices that they didn’t even know was there. This is a match made in heaven.