10 Best Sumatra Coffee: Unusual Beans with Extraordinary Flavor

Ever wonder what makes Starbucks coffee unusually delicious? It’s all in the choice of coffee beans! As a matter of fact, Starbucks uses Sumatra coffee beans in some of its coffee blends to balance the taste of its roast. That’s why Starbucks is one of the primary buyers of the Sumatran roast. 

What makes Sumatra coffee so special and why do many people either love it or not? We’ve spent hours putting together our list of the best Sumatra coffee beans for your enjoyment.

What is Sumatra Coffee?

Sumatra coffee exhibits an earthy, mossy, and spicy flavor. Some love the earthy and depth of flavor of this coffee blend. Others despise it and prefer coffee blends from Ethiopia or Costa Rica. If you’re searching for a premium gourmet coffee from the Sunda islands, the Mandheling, Lintong, and Ankola are some of the recommended coffee.

Where does Sumatra Coffee come from?

Sumatra coffee is generally harvested from the Sunda islands. Sunda is a group of islands in the Malay archipelago that is also located in the green coffee belt. It is divided into two principal regions: the Greater Sunda and the Lesser Sunda. 

The Greater Sunda is composed of big islands where Sumatra is included along with Java, Sulawesi, and Borneo. The Lesser islands are islands that you may find at Maritime Southeast Asia, north of Australia.

Although Indonesia has 17,508 islands, with 6000 of it being inhabited, Sumatra is one of Indonesia’s significant islands with coffee as its prime crop. It’s an island in Southeast Asia that is ideally suited for Arabica coffee cultivation. 

The Sumatran soil is well-balanced due to ando soils, a fertile soil developed from the andesitic volcanic sediments. These sediments came from the different volcanoes that you can find on this island. Two of the most active volcanoes in Sumatra are the Marapi and Karinci.

Aside from these, the island experiences a tropical climate which is ideal for growing Arabica coffee plants. There are seasons of rains and sunshine throughout the year. That’s why Sumatra is considered as one of the coffee paradises in Southeast Asia.

Why is Sumatra coffee lower in acidity?

For coffee lovers with sensitive stomachs, low acidity Sumatra coffee is the most recommended coffee blend. This coffee has a low level of acidity because it is cultivated in low elevation. Some roasters reduce the acidity in coffee by mixing stomach-soothing powder with non-invasive taste. Other coffee blends that are low in acidity are Brazil, Guatemala, Peru, and Mexico.

Since Sumatra coffee is less acidic, it is usually roasted between medium to dark roast. Compared to Mexican and African coffees, Sumatran coffee has more body and mouthfeel finish. 

Does Sumatra Coffee have more caffeine?

Sumatra coffee contains caffeine because it is harvested from Arabica coffee plants of the Bourbon and Typica varietals. Most Arabica coffee beans have 1.5% caffeine content. Yet, its caffeine level is less than what Robusta coffee beans contain, which is 2.7%.  

However, the coffee beans’ origin is not enough proof to describe the level of caffeine in a bean. Factors including the processing method and roasting can help you understand how much caffeine there are in the coffee beans. Generally speaking, Sumatra coffee has the same caffeine quantity as other Arabica coffees.

Facts about Sumatra Coffee

Coffee was first introduced to Southeast Asian soil back in the 17th century when the Dutch brought coffee to one of the Greater Sunda Islands, Java. Initially, the Dutch first brought the Arabica beans in the Indian soil to cultivate but failed miserably. 

However, the Javanese were forced to switch to Robusta by the 19th century. A strain of rust disease destroyed thousands of Arabica coffee plants. For love for Arabica coffee beans, small coffee farmers still planted this variety of coffee using the Dutch equipment and methods. Most of the Arabica coffee bean imports come from small coffee farms in Sumatra and Sulawesi.

To understand the origin of the Sumatra Coffee, here are some interesting Sumatran Coffee facts.  

  • Sumatra coffee is processed using the wet hull method or Giling Basah.
  • The Giling Basah method involves the following processes: coffee cherries’ outer skin removal, drying the mucilage for a day, rinsing, and drying coffee cherries for the second time. Lastly, the cherries are hulled and processed.
  • The Sumatra coffee has two varieties: the regular bean and the aged bean.
  • The aged Sumatra coffee bean has spicy notes, which is unique to this bean. When blended with other coffee beans, it amplifies the flavors of different coffee beans.
  • The famous Sumatra Mandheling coffee is named after the Mandailing natives that cultivate the top specialty coffee. This Sumatran coffee grows in the volcanic soil in an elevation between 2500 and 5000 feet above sea level. It is produced in the coffee farms near Padang, the capital city of the West Sumatra province.
  • Sumatra coffee is independently cultivated by small coffee growers, with farms sizing to roughly 2.5 acres. These farms work together as a structured cooperative to sell their coffee products and divide the profits equally. (Please read our Pachamama Coffee Review to learn more about coffee cooperatives!)

Our Favorite Sumatra Coffees

If you’re looking for the best Sumatra coffee, here are Big Cup of Coffee’s top picks.

Volcanica Sumatra Mandheling Coffee

The coffee beans of the Sumatra Mandheling coffee by Volcanica are sun-dried to extract the beans’ unique flavors. Afterward, these are processed semi-washed.

Origin: Sumatera Utara (North Central Sumatra)

Roast level: Medium roast

Cup notes: The coffee is well-balanced, has a full body with mild acidity and clean aftertaste

Tasting notes: With hints of brown sugar and winey dried fruit

Brewing Method: Drip, French Press, Pour-Over

Best Overall Sumatra
Sumatra Mandheling Coffee, Organic
$19.99

Sumatra Mandheling Coffee is a rare Indonesian coffee that is delightfully smooth with a rich heavy body, low acidity and an exotic flavor with an intense syrupy aftertaste and an earthy richness. Organic Medium roast



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Volcanica Sumatra Mandheling Reserve 

The Mandheling Reserve is the dark roast version of the Volcanica Sumatra Mandheling. The beans are sun-dried and processed semi-washed.

Origin: Sumatera Utara (North Central Sumatra)

Roast level: Dark roast

Cup notes: It has a rich, heavy body, well balanced with mild acidity.

Tasting notes: With hints of brown sugar and winey dried fruit

Brewing Method: Drip, French Press, Pour-Over

Top Dark Sumatra Roast
Sumatra Mandheling Reserve Coffee, Dark Roast, Organic
$19.99

Sumatra Mandheling Coffee Reserve is the dark roasted version of this rare Indonesian coffee. Delightfully smooth with a rich heavy body, low acidity, an exotic flavor with an intense syrupy aftertaste and an earthy richness. Dark roasted to bring out a different more potent taste. Organic Dark roast

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Cooper’s Cask Coffee Sumatra Single-Origin

This version of Sumatra Single-Origin by Cooper’s Cask Coffee is roasted to a full dark roast to display the Sumatra coffee beans’ unique flavors and its rustic, earthy undertones. The beans are certified Organic and graded 1 by Fairtrade.

Origin: Lintong Region (North Central Sumatra)

Roast level: Dark Roast

Cup notes: Has a smooth, creamy and heavy body with an earthy and smoky aftertaste

Tasting notes: With hints of raw tobacco, dark chocolate, slight dark stone fruits, and woody cedar undertones

Brewing Method: Pour-over, French Press, Drip 

Best Sumatra Whisky Barrel Aged
Coopers Cask Uprising Sumatra Single Malt Whisky Barrel Aged Coffee
$29.95
  • Barrel Aged: Uprising (Son’s of Liberty Whiskey): Single Malt American Whiskey
  • Coffee Beans: Sumatra Lintong
  • The Sumatra coffee bean is from the sub-region of Lintong and was chosen because of the complementary tasting notes of woody earth and mild sweet tobacco, with a hint of ripe tropical fruits. When aged in whiskey barrels, the flavor and aroma of the bean is enhanced with the sweetness of vanilla and caramel from the whiskey. When tasted, you get the enriched coffee experience with a very long whiskey finish. Excellent as an espresso.


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Volcanica Sumatra Gayo Peaberry

The Gayo Peaberry of Volcanica from Sumatra is cultivated between 4,500 and 6,000 above sea level. The Sumatran Peaberry is famous for its smooth cardamon flavors and herbal sweetness with vibrant acidity.

Origin: Ache Province (Northern Sumatra)

Roast level: Medium roast

up notes: Has a smooth, full body with sweet tones and crisp, layered complexity

Tasting notes: With hints of caramel, peach, wisteria, and cacao nibs.

Brewing Method: French Press, Pour-over, Drip

Best Peaberry Sumatra
Sumatra Gayo Peaberry Coffee
$21.99

Sumatra Gayo Peaberry is from the Ache province on the most northern tip of Sumatra. This Sumatran Gayo Peaberry Coffee is grown at an altitude between 4,500 to 6,000 feet above sea level in the area of Lake Laut Tawar.

The area is in the center of Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam Province, Indonesia that is cloud covered near the main city of Takengon. The smooth flavors of cardamon, dark herbal sweetness, clove and bright acidity.

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Grounds and Hounds Sumatra Single-Origin

Grounds and Hounds’ single-origin Sumatran coffee is a limited batch of specialty grade coffee beans. It is 100% organic and Fairtrade-certified. For a mouthwatering taste and pleasing aroma, rounds and Hounds used the traditional European style of roasting. This roasting style helped the Sumatra coffee develop a rich and bold flavor while eliminating the burnt and bitter taste found on the beans.

Origin: Sumatra

Roast level: Dark roast

 notes: smooth, rich and bold with smoky, clean after taste

Tasting notes: With hints of maple syrup, cocoa powder, pie spices, and toasted marshmallow

Brewing Method: French Press, Pour-over, Cold Brew

Best Social Mission
Grounds and Hounds Single Origin Sumatra
$15.99

100% organic, 100% Fair Trade volcanic soil grown Sumatran coffee, roasted to dark and oily perfection. Bold, rich, smoky, and smooth, you'll love every sip of our exclusive Single Origin dark roast coffee. Mouthwatering aromas of Maple Syrup and Toasted Marshmallow are noticed immediately, followed by hints of Cocoa and Pie Spice with your first sip.


**Coupon code: BigCupofCoffee Save 15% Off Your Order + Get FREE SHIPPING over $50**


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Volcanica Sumatra Gayo

The Sumatra Gayo coffee of Volcanica has a sweet taste and clean finish. The processing method used is washed, and the cherries are sun-dried. The processing method enabled the coffee beans to develop a sweet, fresh, earthy, and spicy coffee with an exotic earthy aroma.

Origin: Aceh region

Roast level: Medium roast

up notes: Sweet-toned and clean with mild acidity and gentle finish

Tasting notes: With hints of caramel, peach, wisteria, and cacao nibs.

Brewing Method: Pour-over, Drip, French Press

Best Low Acidity
Sumatra Gayo Coffee
$21.99

Sumatran Gayo coffee can be described as sweet and clean. By applying, a system of wet processing, this coffee has been recognized by the international coffee community for its high quality, which ranks it among the best coffees in the world. Can be described as sweet, clean, earthy and spicy coffee with aromatics pronounced with exotic earth notes. Low Acidity. Orang-Utan Conservation Coffee. Organic

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Fresh Roasted Coffee Sumatra

The Sumatran coffee you’ll find at Fresh Roasted Coffee LLC is described as peppery, earthy, and chocolatey. It is USDA Organic, Fairtrade, and Rainforest Alliance-certified coffee. 

Origin: Northern Sumatra

Roast level: Medium roast

Cup notes: Immensely rich, bold, and full-bodied coffee

Tasting notes: With hints of slight vegetable notes and a powerful chocolatey finish.

Brewing Method: Drip, Pour-over, French Press

Best Low Budget Rainforest Alliance Certified
Fresh Roasted Organic Sumatra Coffee Fair Trade, RFA
$11.95

Peppery, earthy and chocolatey all describe this amazing USDA Organic, Fair Trade and Rainforest Alliance Certified Sumatran coffee. The overall body of our Organic Sumatra coffee is bold and flavorful with slight vegetal notes, which are common for the region. The flavor of this bold bodied, medium roast coffee rounds off into a powerful chocolate finish for an immensely rich coffee that is sure to make you crave a second cup.

The coop that produces this remarkable organic, Fair Trade, Rainforest Alliance Certified Sumatra coffee is overseen by a majority of women and is made up of 890 growers and members. The relentless dedication to quality coffee and organic farming has made this coop one of the largest and most experienced coffee producing cooperatives in Northern Sumatra. Becoming Certified Organic, Fair Trade and Rainforest Alliance Certified in 2012, the coop leaders utilize the new premiums to fund health and education programs to support the local community.

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Fresh Roasted Coffee Sumatra Mandheling

The Sumatra Mandheling coffee by Fresh Roasted Coffee presents a syrupy Indonesian coffee with rich and earthy flavors. It is incredibly dark and bold coffee without bitterness.

Origin: Northern Sumatra

Roast level: Dark roast

Cup notes: Rich and bold body with mild acidity

Tasting notes: With hints of dark chocolate

Brewing Method: French Press, Drip, Pour-over

Best Low Budget
Fresh Roasted Dark Sumatra Mandheling Coffee
$10.95

This Dark Sumatra coffee brings out syrupy, spiced notes that make the profile of this Indonesian coffee intense and captivating. With delicious hints of dark chocolate and a bold finish, this Dark Sumatran coffee is perfect for anyone who loves a rich, bold and dark roast coffee.

The low acidity and extra bold body of traditional Sumatran coffees are attributed to a unique way of processing the coffee beans as well as the rich, volcanic soils and tropical climate in which the coffee cherries grow. It seems as though Sumatra coffee beans soak up the flavor of their climate and terrior surrounding them to deliver an exceptional Indonesian coffee without bitterness.

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Volcanica Sumatra Mandheling Decaf

This is the decaffeinated version of the Volcanica Sumatra Mandheling. It used the Swiss Water Method to remove 97-99% of caffeine, so it’s the most recommended decaf Sumatra coffee today. 

Origin: Sumatera Utara

Roast level: Decaffeinated medium roast

Cup notes: Has a rich, heavy body and mild acidity with an intense syrupy aftertaste

Tasting notes: With hints of brown sugar and winey dried fruit

Brewing Method: Pour-over, French Press, Drip

Best Decaf Sumatra
Sumatra Mandheling Decaf Coffee
$21.99

Sumatra Mandheling Decaf Coffee version of this fine single origin coffee. This is a rare Indonesian coffee that is delightfully smooth with a rich heavy body, low acidity and an exotic flavor with an intense syrupy aftertaste and an earthy richness. The decaffeination process uses SWISS WATER. The Swiss Water process is a taste-driven, 100% chemical free decaffeination process that delivers coffee that is 99.9% caffeine-free while protecting the unique origin characteristics and flavor of this Sumatra Mandheling Decaf Coffee. Most other processes use chemical solvents, like Methylene Chloride or Ethyl Acetate to decaffeinate coffee beans. This process maintains a clean original taste for our Sumatra Mandheling Decaf Coffee.


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Fresh Roasted Coffee Sumatra Half Caf

This blend is a half coffee Sumatran blended with a half Sumatran decaf, both organically grown and Kosher-certified. This coffee blend is introduced to give you a rich and bold decaf coffee with no constricting decaf flavor.

Origin: Aceh region

Roast level: Medium roast

Cup notes: Rich, heavy and bold with earthy flavors and clean finish

Tasting notes: With hints of chocolate

Brewing Method: Pour-over, Drip, French Press

Best Half-Caf Sumatra
Organic Sumatra Swiss Water Half Caf Coffee Fair Trade, RFA
$12.95

This coffee is a half and half blend of the Organic Fair Trade Sumatra and the Organic Fair Trade, Swiss Water Process Sumatra Decaf. Both organically grown, chemical free coffees combine to form a rich and bold decaf coffee with no astringent decaf flavor. Heavy earthen and chocolate flavors are at the forefront of this delicious low caffeine offering.

Both components to this bold and flavorful half caf originate in the Aceh region of Sumatra and are grown in lush shade cover and organic soil. From start to finish, both coffees are meticulously grown and cared for and suppliers pay premiums for the Fair Trade and RFA certifications. These premiums help to benefit the local community infrastructure and help to maintain health and educational standards.

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Personal Favorites

Below is the best Sumatra coffee per category.

Best Overall – Volcanica Sumatra Mandheling 

Best Overall Sumatra
Sumatra Mandheling Coffee, Organic
$19.99

Sumatra Mandheling Coffee is a rare Indonesian coffee that is delightfully smooth with a rich heavy body, low acidity and an exotic flavor with an intense syrupy aftertaste and an earthy richness. Organic Medium roast



Affiliate links and images are directly from the manufacturer

Best Decaf – Volcanica Sumatra Decaf

Best Decaf Sumatra
Sumatra Mandheling Decaf Coffee
$21.99

Sumatra Mandheling Decaf Coffee version of this fine single origin coffee. This is a rare Indonesian coffee that is delightfully smooth with a rich heavy body, low acidity and an exotic flavor with an intense syrupy aftertaste and an earthy richness. The decaffeination process uses SWISS WATER. The Swiss Water process is a taste-driven, 100% chemical free decaffeination process that delivers coffee that is 99.9% caffeine-free while protecting the unique origin characteristics and flavor of this Sumatra Mandheling Decaf Coffee. Most other processes use chemical solvents, like Methylene Chloride or Ethyl Acetate to decaffeinate coffee beans. This process maintains a clean original taste for our Sumatra Mandheling Decaf Coffee.


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Best Half Caf – Fresh Roasted Coffee Sumatra Half Caf

Best Half-Caf Sumatra
Organic Sumatra Swiss Water Half Caf Coffee Fair Trade, RFA
$12.95

This coffee is a half and half blend of the Organic Fair Trade Sumatra and the Organic Fair Trade, Swiss Water Process Sumatra Decaf. Both organically grown, chemical free coffees combine to form a rich and bold decaf coffee with no astringent decaf flavor. Heavy earthen and chocolate flavors are at the forefront of this delicious low caffeine offering.

Both components to this bold and flavorful half caf originate in the Aceh region of Sumatra and are grown in lush shade cover and organic soil. From start to finish, both coffees are meticulously grown and cared for and suppliers pay premiums for the Fair Trade and RFA certifications. These premiums help to benefit the local community infrastructure and help to maintain health and educational standards.

Affiliate links and images are directly from the manufacturer

Best Social Mission – Grounds and Hounds Sumatra Single-Origin

Best Social Mission
Grounds and Hounds Single Origin Sumatra
$15.99

100% organic, 100% Fair Trade volcanic soil grown Sumatran coffee, roasted to dark and oily perfection. Bold, rich, smoky, and smooth, you'll love every sip of our exclusive Single Origin dark roast coffee. Mouthwatering aromas of Maple Syrup and Toasted Marshmallow are noticed immediately, followed by hints of Cocoa and Pie Spice with your first sip.


**Coupon code: BigCupofCoffee Save 15% Off Your Order + Get FREE SHIPPING over $50**


Affiliate links and images are directly from the manufacturer

Conclusion

Sumatra coffee has a rich and bold mouthfeel and a delectable earthy flavor. Not all may like the depth in the character of this exotic coffee, but every cup is worth a try. Many coffee brands recognize its unique flavors, and the international coffee community lauds its flavor profile, which tags Sumatra coffee one of the best gourmet coffee. Even Starbucks love Sumatra coffee, which made them one of the primary buyers of this Arabica coffee from SE Asia. 

Have you tried Sumatra coffee? What coffee Sumatra single-origin have you tasted? Did you like its taste and mouthfeel? Please share with us your Sumatra coffee thoughts at the comments below.

Dave Hoch

Dave Hoch

Author

Gregariously grounded, whimsically witty, and remarkably resolved. Big lover of adventure and all things related to traveling by bike. Can't go a day without a coffee, even if it's decaf.

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