Friday, July 06, 2007



One morning on our recent visit to Sumatra, Alex, John C. and I were stuck in Medan rush hour traffic. While we sat in grid-lock, a mysterious looking woman, dressed elegantly in white, weaving her bicycle and exotic sidecar through traffic, paused in front of our car. “Jamu” said Syafrudin our Sumatra agent. Jamu means medicine, and the bicyclist, Syafrudin explained, was a Chinese herbalist.
We had been trying to come up with a name for a new coffee we are going to start bringing in on a regular basis. The coffee is 100% from the Sidikalang area located on Lake Toba. … We thought “Tabu Jamu” had a nice ring to it.

If you want to know where the arabica growing areas are in Sumatra, it is easy to find them on a map using Lake Toba and Lake Tawar as reference points. Both lakes are located in the volcanic highlands of Northern Sumatra.

Lake Toba is the massive, doughnut shaped, lake. A tremendous amount of coffee is grown around this lake, primarily along the Western side. In recent years full sun hybrid coffees have been introduced here. Many of the coffees from Lake Toba have not impressed us, but some of them, though a little different from the traditional earthy profile we like in Mandheling, are quite good, and their cleaner more acidic cup profile provides another good option from Sumatra.

Further North there is the relatively smaller Lake Tawar and the town of Takengon. This is an area of more traditional, shade-grown production which rapidly is being certified organic. At the moment, there is too much organic coffee as producers willingly give up the herbicides for better prices, but not enough of it yet with the more difficult to obtain FT certification.

Royal has an interesting line of Asian coffees for you to create your own Jamu. Here are some for the creative to consider:

New Crop Sulawesi Toraja Grade 1 ref 15945 July shipment
Indian Mysore Nuggets and Plantation A ref 14785, 15291, 15292 Spot
Indian Monsooned Malabar spot ref 15064 and new crop monsoon for October shipment Java Pancoer Estate ref 15256,15640
Flores Bajawa Arabica Grade 1 ref 16187 & 8 August and September Shipment
New Crop New Guinea Kimel A, X & PB Spot to Dec delivery.
New Guinea FT Organic Waka Jawaka Spot to November delivery.
Sumatra Grade 1 Mandheling …The crop has ended in Sumatra and will resume in October/ November. This is good time to cover your needs until at least December.
Sumatra Retro ref 15573… only a few bags left on the spot. Available again with the new crop in November.
Sumatra 100% Sidikalang "Tabu Jamu" ref 15624…..a cleaner brighter version of Mandheling.
Sumatra Aged Mandheling ref 15695 brown reddish 3 year old aged …blend with care.
Aged Brown Java ref 15700…gold color mellow soft aged flavor.
Sumatra FT and Organic…FT remains tight and expensive, organics are lower priced and plentiful.
Timor FTO…crop is late arriving but should start flowing into the whse in October. Now is the time to line them up.
Java Monsooned Arabica ref 15374…a cleaner less intense version of the Indian. In the right hands, some very interesting blends are possible.

Decaf Jamu? ...Sumatra Organic, New Guinea and Komodo.

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