It has been a little while since I’ve featured a new Starbucks Reserve coffee, and that is largely because I’ve been stuck in a Sumatra rut for a while. The Starbucks in my area seemed to have a lot more Aged Sumatra than in some past years, and it is so good when brewed in the Clover that I’ve found it difficult to resist when it is on the menu. It finally got phased out but, luckily enough for me, a new Sumatra coffee almost immediately took its place, Blue Batak.
The coffee is produced at high elevations by farmers from the indigenous Batak Tribe in Sumatra. The coffee is wet hulled after it is picked – a process unique to the area where the parchment (thin skin surrounding the beans) is removed before the beans have been dried, and the drying process is finished without the parchment. Most coffee is dried with the parchment in place and it comes off naturally or is removed as the coffee is further processed. This process gives the beans a unique flavor and a distinctive blue hue. Don’t open a bag and expect to see the color there, however. That blue color is in the raw coffee beans and by the time they are dried and roasted, they look a lot like other coffee beans. You can still taste their uniqueness when you brew them, however, and I’ve been told that this makes the coffee a bit polarizing for Sumatra fans.
This coffee has a silky body that is a bit more delicate than the very intense body you see on some other Sumatran coffees. It has the deep, earthy flavors characteristic of most Sumatran coffees, but it also has lighter fruit, plant and herbal notes that cut through that natural richness to give it a clean finish. It’s not unlike how a sprinkle of salt on dark chocolate just lightens it up a bit. It is very well balanced and very easy to drink, which makes it a great sipping coffee for me to enjoy while I’m reading or working, but you’ll know right away that this isn’t your average Sumatra. I happen to be a fan and think it’s a perfect springtime coffee.