Sulawesi—often over roasted, always overlooked. In my opinion, the crown jewel of Indonesian coffees, but you never know what you’re going to get when you brew it that first time.When it’s good, it’s really, really good. When it’s bad… Well.
I was ecstatic when I got a package in the mail from my friends at Bluebeard Coffee Roasters a couple weeks ago; I was beyond ecstatic when I opened it and today’s coffee was the first one I pulled out of the box.
Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today we are sipping a cup of Sulawesi Toarco Jaya, from Bluebeard Coffee Roasters in Tacoma, Washington. Feel free to pull up a chair.
This coffee constitutes something of a rarity, in that it’s a fully washed coffee from Sulawesi, where the more traditional wet hulling process is nearly ubiquitous. With this coffee, we see the results of a partnership between a Japanese coffee company and local investors to establish a wet mill in Sulawesi, resulting in coffees with greater complexity and more clarity of flavour than is usually seen from Indonesia.
Coupled with this processing, this coffee benefits from being grown at significant altitude. While the Toarco Jaya wet mill is at around 1000masl, a great amount of the contributing smallholder farmers have their farms between 1250 and 1750masl, making them some of the highest growing coffee trees in Sulawesi.
Toarco Jaya also provides on-going education and training to their smallholder farmers, assisting them in maintaining their trees through good farming practice, and helping train their pickers to select the ripest cherries from the tree. We think that the combination of altitude, education, and exemplary growing and processing practices really strips away the negative characteristics people have come to associate with coffees from Indonesia.
origin: Northeast Tana Toraja, Sulawesi, Indonesia
farm: P.T. Toarco Jaya
elevation: 1400-2000 meters above sea level
cultivars: Typica, Jember S-795
process: fully washed, patio dried
The aroma coming out of this cup is heavenly. Up front, there are lightly fragrant aromatics of lavender, Earl Grey tea, peanut dust, pine needles, and juniper. At the back end, big aromas of coconut and deep, sweet milk chocolate lull me into my first few sips.
The milk chocolate carries over into the cup, taking up residence front and center at the tip of my tongue, then melting over it; there is now a bed of chocolate on my palate for all of the rest of the flavors to jump on (and there are a lot). First comes a mildly sweet nutty taste—macadamia—and a much sweeter marshmallow note. Then it gets a little spicy sweet—cinnamon, oregano, cordiander. Following close behind, a flavor note that I’ve never written in my journal before—freshly baked buttered croissant.
This is a heavy, dense cup of coffee and all of the flavors so far really inform that. Proteins and carbs and dairy and sugar that really weigh the belly down.
But as it cools off, there comes an emergence of light, lively, fruit notes. Plum, pomegranate, apricot, clementine, juicy blood orange, and a sparkling bittersweet grapefruit acidity explode onto the palate and was all the former flavors down.
Full body; juicy mouthfeel; grapefruit acidity; clean finish.
the bottom line:
The Sulawesi Toarco Jaya, from Bluebeard Coffee Roasters, is a very unique, very special cup of coffee. A lot of people ask me why I’m so enthralled with Sulawesi coffees—this one speaks for itself.
If I hadn’t seen what it was before I started drinking it, I would’ve guessed that this was a Honduras or a Nicaragua; then it would cool off and I would’ve thought it was a Kenya or Guatemala. It’s that dynamic.
Did you like this? Comments, questions, and suggestions are always welcome here at the Table! Pull up a chair and speak your mind by entering a comment below. Also remember to like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter!
Andrew is a husband, father, dog lover, craft beverage enthusiast, content creator, and niche market Internet celebrity. Formerly of A Table in the Corner of the Cafe and The Pulitzer Project and contributor to Barista Magazine and Mental Floss, he’s been writing on the Internet for years.