Coffee Review – Wicked Joe Organic Fair Trade Sumatra

What you see in the above video is how I get my coffee fix on Saturday and Sunday mornings. It involves a very reasonably priced coffee and a very resonably priced (and durable!) Italian espresso pot. I don’t need a fancy coffee machine that takes up valuable counter space in my kitchen or some super exotic coffee blend to get me through the weekend grind (see what I did there?). What you see up above works just fine. That being said, I’m not opposed to trying something different (and a little more expensive) every once in a while. Especially when someone else is buying…

Back in mid-August, we were approached by Christie & Co, a Santa Barbara, California based public relations firm, asking if we’d like to review some of the Great State of Maine’s Wicked Joe Organic Coffee. Since we (and by we, I mean me) most definitely love a delicious cup of freshly brewed java (you can keep your Chesterfield Kings) at this here blog, as you are well aware, the majority of our time is spent writing about the not-so-soft side of the beverage world (i.e. beverages that contain alcohol). While beer, whisky and other boozy drinks are our focus, we have explored a few soft drinks recently, so agreeing to review some coffee made perfect sense.

Although the coffee that we received was roasted in Topsham, Maine, the beans were most definitely not grown there. If you want lobster and wild blueberries, Maine is definitely where you want to be, but to get high quality coffee beans, you’ll need to head South. To be more specific, you’ll need to travel a good bit closer to the Equator, because according to the National Coffee Association, “the ideal conditions for coffee trees to thrive are found around the world, along the Equatorial zone called “The Bean Belt,” located between latitudes 25 degrees North and 30 degrees South”. The beans that were used to make the coffee we received were grown in Sumatra…

For those of you that don’t know a thing about Sumatra, here’s a bit of information about this incredibly exotic sounding place taken directly from the Wicked Joe Organic Coffee website:

Sumatra, an island in western Indonesia known in ancient times as the “Island of Gold”, is the sixth largest island in the world, but probably one of the least visited. The Dutch brought coffee from Yirgacheffe to Indonesia in the 17th century. Coffee trees are planted in the extreme northwestern province of Aceh in virgin, highly organic , volcanic soil which is extremely fertile. Small-holders grow Arabica coffee in the highland region of Gayo under diverse tree species for shade. Aceh is known for Mandhelings. This area produces 90% organic coffee by default. They also produce a larger bean size and grow these Strictly Hard Bean coffees at altitudes up to 1900m. The cultivar of this coffee is Hybrido da Timor, and is processed using the wet-hulling method. Gayo Mountain Mill is located in Takengon. Dutch Aid originally built the mill about 20 years ago. It is surrounded by a compound including 22 homes, drying patios, 23 fermentation tanks and processing for washed, semi-pulped and natural coffees. The Dutch had seen washing mills in Africa and Latin America and then duplicated one in Aceh. The people of this region yearn for independence from Indonesia and hope to follow East Timor in this regard. Consequently, fighting escalated between insurgents and government troops. The mill managed to stay open during the war, despite the attacks, hostages taken and hijacked containers. Due to political and social unrest in the area, Gayo Mountain tries to maintain a stable and rewarding environment for its employees. The majority have been there for 20 plus years, turnover is rare and salaries have increased. Currently, plans are underway to build a health clinic, nursery, school and playground. The main Cooperative in the region, Tunas Indah, has their main office inside the compound. Tunas Indah has over 5000 growers each averaging one hectare. The harvest generally happens from May to October. Most of Sumatra used to be covered by tropical rainforest, but economic development coupled with corruption and illegal logging has severely threatened its existence. Conservation areas have not been spared from destruction, either.

Now that you know a bit about Wicked Joe Organic Coffee and where they sourced the coffee that they sent us, here’s how I brewed a cup of their Sumatra coffee on a lazy Sunday morning using a French Press

And now for my review…

  • Appearance: Not as dark as I was expecting. Medium brown color with an even lighter brown hue around the edges.
  • Aroma: Also not as strong smelling as I was expecting. Smells like a lightly scented coffee with some milk chocolate, cardamon, and a hint of cinnamon coming through.
  • Taste: Definitely a lighter cup of coffee than what I’m used to drinking (I’m an espresso and French roast coffee kind of guy). No bitterness at all. Just a smooth, easy drinking cup of coffee.

The Verdict

While there’s no doubt that this was a quality cup o’ Wicked Joe, it lacks the punch of an espresso or French Roast coffee, which is what I usually drink (particularly on the weekends). Wicked Joe’s Sumatra isn’t what I’d call an “eye opening, just rolled out of bed” kind of coffee. Thanks to it’s super smooth, easy drinking nature, this is the type of coffee that I’d have after dinner along with my dessert, since its more of a “relaxing after a big meal” kind of coffee.


Many thanks to Lyndsay Flartey of Christie & Co for sending us this very generous sample!

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