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Sumatra Blue Lintong

August 9, 2005

This will be a combined review, both of us having received samples. For a description of Bob and Jim's evaluation procedure, see our reference page.

Sumatra is famous for its low acid, heavy bodied, Mandheling semi-wet processed coffees. The less well known and regarded Aceh and Gayo regions produce wet processed coffees that are still heavy bodied, but considerably brighter. However, while some lots are superb, the acidity in these coffees is usually rather crude. Lintong is a small premier region in the Mandheling growing area located on the south side of Lake Toba; Blue Lintong is the highest grade washed coffee from this region, and coffee people still rave about how good it was five years ago. Unfortunately, the past years, it has not been up to its stellar reputation. So we approached this cupping pessimistically but hoping.

Jim: My hopes rose when I got a room-filling lavender scent while roasting and cooling the beans. Another good sign was that despite a long roast to 435F (a city roast), the beans seemed hardly browned; this is a characteristic of good Sumatras. The hopes were confirmed during the cupping. The lavender scent remained the main aroma, while the taste added cherries over the usual Sumatra brew of caramel, chocolate, and darker overripe forest notes. Unlike many Mandhelings, though, this dark part was exceptionally clean; and the acidity lively. One cup did reveal a very slight meatbroth note, a common taint in Indonesian coffees for which I deducted one cupper's point.

Over the five day tasting period, the aromatics declined a little; but the cup remained intensely rich, almost over-rich, like an unctuous Zinfandel.

This will make a very rich SO espresso, akin to a PNG, but heavier bodied, more aromatic, and less sweet, if roasted to the first pops. At a city roast, it was a tad bright.

Bob: I did a light roast and made a special note about the aroma from my roaster from the start of first crack until the end of the roast because it was so floral, sweet and prolonged. Look for a late first crack (408.4 deg F in my case).

Then during formal cupping, that same aroma and flavor were present in the cup. Jim calls it lavender: I call it allspice, confirmed in the flavor profile with coconut thrown in. But whatever it is, it's very compelling and ever-present. This coffee had a long finish with spice lingering in the aftertaste. Another surprise for me was the bright acidity. No dark, brooding Sumatra, this.

Jim's Score
Dry Fragrance: 4.0
Wet Aroma: 4.5
Flavor: 9.0
Finish: 8.0
Acidity: 7.0
Body: 8.5
Cupper's Correction:-1.0
TOTAL (subtotal + 50): 90.0

Bob's Score
Dry Fragrance: 4.5
Wet Aroma: 4.5
Flavor: 8.7
Finish: 7.5
Acidity: 7.4
Body: 7.4
TOTAL (subtotal + 50): 90.0

  • Lighter Roasts: Lavender and cherry.
  • Darker Roasts: lavender remains, fruit gets plummier, very rich, clean roast tastes
  • As Espresso: Ultra-rich, fruity SO shot at first pops of the second


UPDATED: June 27, 2005