The Coffee: Sulawesi AA Tana Toraja
The Roasts: City, Full City, and stretched drying City+
This offering from Sulawesi is unique in that it’s not been processed in the traditional wet-hulled method common for coffees here where the coffee parchment is removed at the same time as the fruit and mucilage of the coffee, and the exposed coffee seed is allowed to dry on tarps in the ground. The wet-hulled process leads to a very distinct vegetal, mulchy, earthy flavor, and the point could be made that in tasting these coffees you are tasting the process more than the coffee itself, just like in dry processed coffees. The dilemma is that when similar varieties have been processed without the wet-hulling method, the coffees lacked much of any character and so were fairly boring.
There have been a few really nice, clean Sulawesi coffees that have appeared in the last couple of years, and these coffees have shown the potential that lying underneath the processing flavors were some really sweet and lovely coffees. This coffee from Tana Toraja has been processed in an almost pulped-natural/honeystyle, with the removal of the fruit and most of the mucilage but with some remaining on the parchment, and then dried to a fairly low moisture in the parchment.
While this definitely results in a much cleaner, clearer cup, there is still some familiar Sulawesi character, specifically in the weighted mouthfeel, but also with a bit of sweet herbaceous notes in the lightest roasts.
City – This roast was very pointed at front of the palate with lemony citric acidity. In the warm cup, the body is custardy, complimenting the lemon nicely with plenty of vanilla wafer cookie in the finish. Sugary sweet through out. There’s a thread of basil-like herbaceousness in the cup, but only as an accent, though it does come out a bit more as it the coffee cools. It really tastes like a complex dessert built from some really simple and clean elements, more cake and cake frosting in the cool cup, with that lemony thread woven throughout. It should be noted that this coffee performed best a couple days out of the roaster, and brewed a superb Hario V60 cup that was full on lemon cake.
Full City – This had a lot of roast character in the front of the warm cup that was a little rough, but the finish was quite sweet. Much more cocoa and also much more of the herbal notes with a more potent basil accent throughout the cup. This cup was the most like the familiar Sulawesi cup, but the finish did have some really lovely honey and cocoa sweetness.
stretched drying City+ – Thinking of how the Java Mayang behaves in the roaster as well as approaching this coffee how I would a wet-hulled version of it, I thought it would be wise to try a profile with a stretched drying time to try to really push the sweetness as well as to try to take some of the citric edge off of the acidity without moving into any of the more roasty characteristics of the Full City version. The results were spot on! The stretching is really a function of both expressing the sweetness as well as best developing the weighted mouthfeel in this coffee. And boy howdy was this roast so super juicy and creamy, and yet still very well-structures, not at all a sloppy coffee. The brightness was also much more integrated into the whole cup, showing more of a melon-like soft brightness that even had some Guatemala-like black cherry notes in the cool cup through to the finish. There is also some well balanced sweet spice to the cup as well that doesn’t show as much in the lightest roasts but perfectly accents this cup with some clove and cinnamon. This is a very complete cup of coffee, while the City roast tasted complex but made up of simpler elements, this cup had much more depth in the middle and the spice and melon and black cherry made this cup seem much more textured.