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 1000 meters above sea level, a great amount of the contributing smallholder farmers have their farms between 1400 and 1600 meters, 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.
Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today we’re drinking the Sulawesi Toarco Peaberry, from Ruby Coffee Roasters in Nelsonville, Wisconsin. Feel free to pull up a chair.
region: Tana Toraja, Sulawesi, Indonesia
producer: smallholder farmers
association: P.T. Toarco Jaya
elevation: 1400 -1600 meters above sea level
cultivar(s): Typica, Djember, S795
process: fully washed, patio dried
The aroma of the Sulawesi Toarco is big, and it explodes out of the bag, filling the whole kitchen with its massive scents of varamel, vanilla, apple pie, raisin, nuts, and tropical fruits.
The first sip of the cup immediately post-brew is really quite a mouthful. A massively full-bodied coffee comes gate-crashing onto the palate, completely enveloping it, and spilling into the sides of the mouth. This is an incredibly sweet coffee up front with big-time flavors of vanilla bean ice cream, caramel, toffee, Sugar in the Raw, graham cracker pie crust, and pecan brittle. But there’s still just a very small hint of earth, cedar, and English blend tobacco.
As it cools off, its sweet vanilla carries through, providing an easy transition into the second half of the cup. Brighter (but subtle), fruit-forward flavors emerge here: grapefruit, cantaloupe, Gala apple, fig, cranberry, strawberry, mango, and subtle lime acidity that washes the palate clean, leaving behind something of a vanilla and maple aftertaste in the finish.
Full body; juicy mouthfeel; lime acidity; clean finish.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
One word can summarize the Sulawesi Toarco Peaberry, from Ruby Coffee Roasters: BALLER.
Choosing a Sulawesi to debut a roasting operation was a risky gamble for Ruby Coffee; Sulawesis are really weird coffees and, not only are they tricky in the roaster, they’re tricky in the cup too. Choosing a Sulawesi as one of your company’s first offerings, in a way, makes a bold statement about the company—that it’s going to be dedicated to producing nothing but the most interesting coffees it can find. Ruby’s motto—”Colorful Coffees”—is certainly accurate, especially in the case of this Sulawesi.
So I have to give a lot of credit to Ruby’s founder, Jared Linzmeier—the payoff was worth the calculated risk. This coffee packed a punch from beginning to end
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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.