Sump Coffee Sumatra Takengon

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Good morning and happy Friday (especially before a three-day weekend, if you’re a USA reader!). Today I’m taking a quick look at another one of the small coffee samples I got from Sump Coffee in St. Louis, MO. My visit to Sump Coffee was nothing short of an epiphany when it came to the espresso and cortado I drank there, and their brewed coffee is turning out to be very good, too! The coffee I’m reviewing today is their Takengon, a wet-hulled Sumatran. You can buy it directly from Sump for $13/10oz bag.

King's ransom of samples from Sump!
King’s ransom of samples from Sump!

This coffee comes from the Bener Meriah region of Sumatra near the city of Takengon. This is an area best known for its coffee production 1 and, like most Sumatra coffee, it’s wet-hulled. Sump sources this coffee from Cafe Imports, where I got additional information that this is a mix of TimTim, Bourbon and Jember (S795) varietals grown by some 300 smallholder farmers in the 1400-1600masl range. 2 Cafe Imports have tasting notes of “caramel, burnt sugar, floral, herbal and citric” on their site while Sump offers notes of “brown sugar, sage, rosemary, tangerine.”

Opening the small sample pack revealed one ugly coffee, which is pretty characteristic of wet-hulled coffees! Especially when the coffee is roasted lightly like this one was, it’s always a bit of a crapshoot when it comes to removing what look like defective beans because they all look pretty gnarly. It’s really tough to even get a sense of the evenness of the roast because the beans always look mottled and you just never know. I picked out what looked like a couple of quakers (very light beans that will ruin the flavor) and did the best I could.

The proof is always in the cup and this is a nice drinker. Like I said, no wet-hulled coffee is ever going to win a beauty pageant! This is an interesting cup of coffee with a lot of character. It has a medium body and sweet aroma. Sumatran coffees are known for big body and lots of deep and sweet flavors, so I was really surprised by my first couple sips of this one. There is a lot of brightness here, with the acidity being citric yet soft. I know I use orange juice as a descriptor more than I should, but this one is really OJ-like in that it has a bright citrus acidity but it’s balanced by a lot of sweetness.

There is a current of herbal bitterness throughout each sip, especially as the coffee cools, and there is a dry, woody finish and aftertaste in this cup, but that orange juice sweetness really comes through at all temperature ranges in this coffee. It gets a little earthy as it cools but I liked the complexity of this coffee and it wasn’t “dirty.”

Wet-hulled coffees are often complex and full of really unexpected flavors and this one is no different. This is a sugary-sweet, yet bright cup and a nice departure from expectation when it comes to this region. Another well-done coffee from Sump in St. Louis!!!