Throughout the 1980’s and early 1990’s Royal sold a couple of different Sumatra types… [One of the] coffee[s] we used to buy was famous, and one in which we have very fond memories. It was a brand known as “Golden Mandheling.” The genuine Golden Mandheling was sold exclusively by the Pawani Company. It was generally a little bit cleaner tasting, but not too clean; it still had a lot of body and distinct Sumatra character. The beans were bigger, longer, and fatter, and all but a minuscule amount of defects were picked out. The deliveries, refreshingly, were known for their clock-work consistency. Relatively expensive at the time, it was very popular and we had a hard time getting enough…
I recently reminisced with a long-time Sumatra dealer about the Golden Mandheling and he said it was still possible to find similar coffee… Of course I told him he was more than welcome to try. After rejecting a few preliminary attempts, we settled on a promising sample. This week the first “Retro Mandheling” container arrived. We feel it is a fitting tribute and close representation of the original Golden. In any case, it is real nice Sumatra, and like the Pawani Golden Mandheling, it’s a bit higher priced but we think it’s worth every penny.
Very limited quantities of the 2016 harvest of Retro Mandheling Typica are available now Spot Oakland, for a short time available both as 10kg Crown Jewel Boxes and as full-sized 60kg bags.
Now in its umpteenth iteration, Retro Mandheling has entered the Third Wave, its classic profile enhanced by traceability. Produced by our longtime supplier, the Koperasi Kopi Gayo Organic (KKGO) cooperative, the harvest is from a specific microregion called Lokop Sabun. Beyond this, the trees are almost exclusively heirloom Bergendal Typica, a relatively rarely seen strain of the original Dutch Typica propagated in Java. Replanted in Sumatra the plant was nearly wiped out but for a few surviving trees at high elevation during a major rust outbreak in the late 1800s.
Our Crown Jewel exhibits many of the characteristics of its predecessors including its exceptionally large screen size. Back in 2007, we measured it at 62% above screen 19! Currently clocking it at 77% above 19, it’s a very large coffee. That and a very slightly higher than average moisture of 11.8% keeps the coffees’ density a bit lower than average. The water activity is a little higher than average as well.
To illustrate the differences in these roasting styles I would like to compare them based on the three stages that we measure when we roast coffee; stage 1 is the drying stage, stage 2 is the Maillard reactions just after visible yellowing, and stage 3 is post crack development which is the total time after first crack. Roast one has an increased amount of drying time (44.1%) with a shorter Maillard stage and a longer post crack development time. Roast two was roasted with more energy at the beginning of the roast and a majority of the time spent at stage two during Maillard (44.3%).
A large screen size means that there is more coffee to roast and I increased the overall roast time to compensate. Both roasts were roughly similar in end time and end temperatures with a difference of 0.7 °F and 18 seconds which led to a difference in the Colortrack readings. Roast one,was the longer roast and was +0.60 darker in Colortrack values. In the cup it was mild and chuggable with notes of lemon, peach, prune accompanied with a syrupy vanilla base. Roast two was much more dynamic and vibrant with its blackberry, cherry acidity and tootsie roll, black tea sweetness. Sugar browning notes on these two roasts were easy to come by, but if you would like to take advantage of the vibrant and clean acidity that this coffee has to offer, turn up the heat early in the roast.
This was a less divisive coffee in terms of roast style preference. Both Jen and I were enamored of the second roast, PR-613. This was decidedly a “big” coffee with plenty of juicy notes to keep quaffers interested, and I ended up drinking a second cup just for good measure. Aside from cocoa, the most consistent note from this was a syrupy berry undertow, with plenty of malic and tartaric acids. We even described the second roast as being floral, and having a sparkly texture, something usually unheard of in our analysis of Sumatran coffees. Perhaps these notes should come as no surprise given the name of this coffee: ‘sabun’ is soap in Bahasa Indonesia. So get clean with this Sumatra!*
*Disclaimer: The coffee absolutely did not taste like soap.