Kaldi’s Coffee // Sumatra Tano Batak

Kaldi’s Coffee // Sumatra Tano Batak
Kaldi's Sumatra Tano Batak
click image to purchase

This is the 3rd year we have brought in coffee from this cooperative in Sumatra. Sumatran coffees are known for their heavy, unique flavors. The best coffees from Sumatra are processed in their traditional style, called wet hulled.

Wet hulling is when the coffee is picked at peak ripeness and depulped, removing the fruit from the bean, leaving in parchment. The wet parchment “Gabah” is dried for about 1 day to about 30% moisture then wet hulled and dried under greenhouse solar dryers. The “Asalan,” dried green coffee, is dried to 13% and then put on density sorting tables and cleaned. Wet-hulling is a very unique way to process coffee and almost exclusively done in Sumatra. It’s also what gives Sumatran coffees their unique appearance and character in the cup.

Tano Batak is a premium mark from the Klasik Beans Cooperative, with which Olam Specialty Coffee works directly. This coffee comes from the Lintong area around the south-eastern end of the famous Lake Toba. The cooperative has well established relationships with the local farmers and takes pride in sourcing the finest coffees for their premium marks. Klasik Bean is committed to social and environmental sustainability. Farmers are rewarded well for quality and all cooperative employees receive full benefits.*

Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today we’re sipping a cup of Sumatra Tano Batak, from Kaldi’s Coffee in St. Louis, Missouri. Feel free to pull up a chair.

THE BASICS:

region: Lake Toba, Sumatra, Indonesia
farm: N/A
producer: smallholder farmers
association: Klasik Beans Cooperative
elevation: 1400 meters above sea level
varieties: Ateng, Bergendal, Jember, Typica
process: wet-hulled, patio dried
certifications: standard

THE COFFEE:

Ooo-wee! The aroma of this Sumatra Tano Batak is… something else. It’s definitely not what I was expecting, because of the fact that it was roasted by Kaldi’s. It definitely has that Sumatran coffee thing going for it—musty, pungent, earthy, spicy—and those notes are accentuated by the roast profile Kaldi’s put on it—roasty, ashy, smoky. How disappointing.

The flavor profile definitely follows the nose, which is unfortunate; I was hoping that the roastiness in the aroma was just an aberration. Mind, this coffee isn’t roasted into oblivion, but carbon and smoke are definitely the dominant notes in this profile. I’m tasting a lot of those standard Tano Batak features—tobacco leaves, cedar, must, earth, spice—but the roast overtakes them.

As the cup cools, the roastiness follows suit. It backs off, allowing some fruit flavors to come forward, cracking through the earthy crust just a bit. Cantaloupe, red grape, black cherry, and grapefruit acidity round out the finish, but the flavors are way too mild to be enjoyable.

Full body; syrupy mouthfeel; citric acidity; dry finish.

THE BOTTOM LINE:

Like I mentioned in the cupping notes, I was really disappointed in this cup from the very start. Immediately, I knew it was overdone in the roaster. I can’t say I was surprised by the lack of quality in the cup considering it was a Sumatran coffee; I was very surprised, though, that this Sumatra Tano Batak was roasted by Kaldi’s Coffee—one of the best roasters in the Midwest!

I’ve had the Tano Batak many times in the past, and I’ve tasted its potential; if anybody could have fully realized this coffee’s potential, it’s Kaldi’s. So this was a real missed opportunity.

*content provided by Kaldi’s Coffee

What were your thoughts of this one? Comments, questions, and suggestions are always welcome! Feel free to enter a comment below. Also remember to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!



  • That is a bummer to hear. I am a huge fan of the Tano/Ulos Bataks and drink them when they are in season. As a 25 year roaster of only organic coffee, I was bummed to realize the quality of Sumatra’s I was missing. The Tano/Ulos coffees represent the best that that country can produce.

    • Exactly! When a Batak is executed well, it’s really, really good. Knowing how good they can be and knowing how excellent Kaldi’s typically is… This was just a missed opportunity.

  • slamrick

    Keywords here…”not what I was expecting” “I was disappointed”….
    Doesn’t mean someone else won’t appreciate this coffee!!
    Opinionated coffee=specialty coffee industry

    • Sure, but as a coffee reviewer it’s my duty to be opinionated about the coffee I’m reviewing.