Explorer Series #02: Silk of the Gayo Mountains
Introducing the second coffee in our 2016 Explorer Series, from the north of Sumatra: Silk of the Gayo Mountains. Like our first offering in the series, this one provides a variation on a familiar theme. Our Sumatra Gayo Mountain coffee that we carry year-round is known for its full body, relatively low acidity, and deep earthy and sometimes herby flavors. Lovers of the Gayo Mountain coffee will be pleasantly surprised to find those attributes present in the Silk of the Gayo Mountains, with an additional sweetness uncommon in most Sumatran coffees.
Silk of the Gayo Mountains is the result of an ongoing collaboration between Cooperative Coffees membership and farmers of the Permata Gayo Cooperative. This project is one of the ways we are working to increase dialogue between roasters and farmers. In the coffee growing world farmers rarely drink the coffee they grow. A lack of coffee culture creates a wide gap in understanding how farming and coffee cherry processing affects how a cup of coffee tastes. Fortunately, importers, roasters, and industry groups have been working hard over the past several years to bridge that gap. Increased communication about roasters’ and coffee consumers’ preferences closes the production loop, and provides clarity for farmers about how their role at the beginning of the supply chain seriously impacts the final product.
The importer/farmer collaboration began in 2014 as a cupping workshop series. Farmers who participated in the workshop took ownership of the project almost immediately. A small number of them began experimenting at the farm level to improve quality on the cupping table. Six farmers from the community of Temas Mumanang, driven by new insight, and the sensory experience of tasting many coffees, both good and bad, developed a new and improved cup profile without straying from their traditional processing techniques. The key was understanding how cherry density affects cup profile, and developing a method to sort bad from good cherries. A simple method of floating cherries in a large container of water allows farmers to remove underdeveloped cherries from the supply chain early in the process.
“Silk of the Gayo Mountains” is how these farmers named their experimental coffee, and I think they hit the nail on the head. As I’ve mentioned, this is a very “Sumatran” coffee with full, silky body and earthy, herbal undertones. But, it has an added sweetness that really shines in the finish and lingering aftertaste. We hope you enjoy it.