The recent ilovecoffee festival saw our Sumatran Blue Batak as one of the more talked about coffees on offer. With so many people asking questions about our favourite angry vegan, we thought it appropriate to give him a little more face time.
Blue Batak has been with Rosetta for two harvests now. As we’ve mentioned before, his first impressions can often deter the more faint of heart, but we’ve been surprised at just how often he has been embraced by coffee lovers from their very first meeting.
Some love his herby scent for the memories it sparks of marijuana-fuelled varsity days, while others swear that the hint of buchu on the nose makes this coffee so 2011. Some of the city’s finest chefs have immediately short-listed this coffee for infusions on their tasting menus, while others are taken on an out-of-body journey to the delis and eateries that line the backstreets of Banda Aceh.
Of course, not everyone loves him. Countless fair maidens have involuntarily grimaced on an encounter with our earthy philosopher. Uncouth locals have jeered in the market place, “There goes ol’ Blue Buttock…”
Then again, this guy is not out to impress women or placate pub crawlers and rabble-rousers. He’s about changing lives; shifting mindsets; breaking new ground. And this is why we love him.
Hailing from the shores of Lake Toba, in Indonesia’s Northern Sumatra, Blue Batak is a very special coffee indeed. Grown at about 1600m ASL and hand-processed in the Giling Basah method (which, translated, means “wet grinding”), this coffee undergoes a significantly different processing chain to the average coffee bean. While some coffee cherries have the fruit washed off before drying, and others are dried with the cherry fruit still attached to the seed, all these coffees are hulled after they’ve been dried. Our Blue Batak, however, is pulped in luwaks (kinda like hand-turned wooden cement mixers, except with less cement and more coffee cherries), and then stored in a bag for a day or so. Then, while they’re still wet, these pulped beans are hulled to remove husks, resulting in a coffee bean that carries a faint greeny-blue tinge in its raw form…hence Blue Batak.
This Indonesian processing is often associated with full-bodied coffees, low in acidity and high in spicy flavour notes. But, seeing the potential of this great coffee, we eased off on the roast profile a little, leaving plenty of acidity to add complexity to this already captivating coffee.
“Holmes, you must widen your gaze.”
And perhaps therein lies both his appeal and his struggle for acceptance. More seasoned bevy hunters are intrigued by what he has to offer; forced to engage and re-engage as they grapple with his unusual aromas and flavours. The unthinking imbiber, on the other hand, may not enjoy this paradigm-shifting brew. Either way, Blue Batak cannot be ignored.
And that’s why he is an essential part of the Rosetta Roastery family. Through being the best version of what he is, coffee drinkers that encounter him are forced to widen their definition of what makes a great cup of coffee. Just like the guy who “loves his Moka Java” is sent careening into an unyielding wall of ecstacy when he first sips an unadulterated Ethiopian Yirgacheffe, so our Blue Batak breaks through into a whole new sensory jungle waiting to be explored.
If you haven’t done so already, grab your machete.