H+S Coffee Roasters have really impressed me with the coffee samples they sent. Laramie, Wyoming is lucky to have them and since they have online ordering and shipping, too, there’s no excuse for you not to try them out, either! Today’s review is H+S’s Tana Toraja, a coffee that hails from the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. You can buy this coffee directly from H+S Coffee Roasters for $16.45/bag.
Indonesia has an interesting coffee market. Like Sumatra, a lot of Indonesian coffee is wet-hulled, a method of processing that basically removes the “wet” coffee seed (bean) from all of its protective layers before it has done substantial drying. These coffees are often thrown right on the ground or road to dry and since there is no protection for the seed, they can pick up some “earthy” or other weird flavors. Quality of wet-hulled coffees is all over the place, as you can imagine.
This changed in 1976 when a Japanese-Indonesian company called PT TOARCO was formed. TOARCO owns a plantation in the Tana Toraja area of Sulawesi and also trains, certifies and purchases partner farms to handle coffee differently, more in the Central and South American tradition. They buy parchment coffee (the coffee cherry has been removed and the goopy mucilage layer has been fermented away at the farm, but the protective parchment layer is still intact) from these farms and then handle the rest of the drying and processing themselves. For all intents and purposes , these coffees are handled like wet-processed coffees from the Americas and the coffee benefits greatly as a result.
H+S’s Tana Toraja is almost definitely a TOARCO coffee consisting of Typica variatals of Arabica coffee. They list the altitude range of 1400-1600masl for this coffee and suggest a flavor profile of, “mesquite, blood orange, full body” for this one.
I drank this coffee as a Gino pourover several times and also from my AeroPress using the inverted method I explain on my brewing page. True to H+S’s webpage for this coffee, different methods seem to produce quite different cups.
From the Gino, my cups were brighter and sweet with a round acidity that hit the back of my palate and tongue instead of the cheeks or side of my tongue like edgier acidity usually does. There was medium-heavy body to the coffee and I picked up some brown sugar in the aroma as well as a peachy or apricot-like undertone in the flavor of this Tana Toraja. As it cooled the acidity developed a bit more character and I could really discern that blood orange character mentioned in the tasting notes.
My inverted AeroPress method created a very different coffee. The first few sips had a darker, almost black licorice quality for me. I pulled out some significant plum flavors, too. The body was a little more dense and the overall profile had an organic, plant-like spiciness to it that seemed peppery. As crazy as it sounds, it really had a green pepper flavor to it. I could be suffering from palate drift, too, as I had a plate of green and red peppers the evening before I AeroPressed this coffee! But there was definitely something peppery or at least spicy going on in that cup!