We went out on a limb recently and bought a Sumatran coffee—Toba Batak Peaberry. Sumatras are known to be very earthy and full-bodied and are usually roasted dark. Since we roast relatively light, I was skeptical I could get a Sumatra to work with our approach, afraid it would turn out sour and thin-bodied. However, this coffee is converting me into a believer. While there is the characteristic earthiness, roasting in the lighter range still allows for full and developed flavor, including some nice fruit notes. The sweetness is less pointed and more of a rustic variety, but it actually works very well with this coffee, and we have found it to be a nice complement to some of the more fruity and floral coffees we have purchased from other regions, such as Ethiopia and Kenya.
The coffee is also a peaberry, which means that only one seed (bean) developed in the coffee cherry, instead of two. These beans are smaller and rounder, since there is not another seed pressing against it to give it a flat side, like you normally see in coffee beans. They are thought by some to have more concentrated flavor and roast more evenly. I can’t say this for sure, but I do know this is a lovely coffee, with a complex, almost tobacco-like sweetness, coupled with some beautiful notes of fruit and spice. Check it out, it won’t be around for long!