Coffee Review: Sightglass Coffee – Sumatra, Silaban Village

Sightglass - Sumatra, Silaban Village Review

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Sightglass Coffee - Sumatra, Silaban Village

$18.75 (12 oz)
6.5

Acidity

8.0/10

Aftertaste

9.0/10

Aroma

6.0/10

Balance

10.0/10

Body

9.0/10

Complexity

6.0/10

Flavor

5.0/10

Forgiveness

8.0/10

Sweetness

4.0/10

Versatility

0.0/10

Pros

  • Unique flavor profile
  • Well-balanced
  • Smooth, chocolate aftertaste
  • Heavy body with pleasant mouthfeel

Cons

  • Little complexity
  • Not much sweetness
  • Pretty expensive
  • Little aroma

I decided to finally take a break from my African coffee binge this week when I picked up a bag of Sumatran beans from Sightlgass Coffee.

Since I have so little experience drinking Sumatran coffee, especially when it isn’t burnt to a crisp, I went into this review having no idea what to expect.

Like most Sightglass coffee that I’ve reviewed, the Sumatra, Silaban Village was characterized by its bright flavor profile. But the flavor profile definitely had more to it than simple citrus.

Sightglass Coffee - Sumatra, Silaban Village

About Sightglass Coffee and Silaban Village

According to Sightglass’ website, this coffee comes from North Sumatra in you guessed it, the Silaban Village. This particular region, Lintong Nihuta, is a unique growing region in that there is consistent rainfall year-round which impacts how this coffee is processed.

Since the coffee is harvested during the wet season, it is wet-hulled as the processing method. This means that the coffee cherries have their pulp removed before they are fully dry. This is a method where the coffee is dried with some of the mucilage still attached to the bean.

Wet-hulling is a processing method that is apparently high-risk, high-reward. But according to Sightlgass, the Klasik Beans Coop has this processing method nailed down to perfection.

I’ll spare you anymore details. You can learn more about wet-hulling here. Sightglass also has a full description of this coffee’s origins written up here.

Video Review

How I Brewed

I’ve been testing out the Oxo Barista Brain 9-cup coffee maker this week, so I’ll I didn’t really get to experiment with a whole lot of different brew methods for this coffee.

This could explain why I wasn’t able to pick up as much of the aroma and flavor complexities. But then again, maybe it was just a straightforward coffee that wouldn’t change much from brew method to brew method anyway.

I guess I’ll never know.

Roast: Cinnamon (Light roast)
Cinammon Roast

Aroma: popcorn

Flavor: Earth, wood, cherry, lime, tobacco

Flavor (roaster): Pipe tobacco, lime

The Ratings

Sightglass describes the Sumatra, Silaban Village as a balanced, heavy mouthfeel, cup of coffee. I would agree.

There was definitely that bright punch at the beginning, but as the coffee sits in your mouth it develops the earthier flavor profiles, especially the tobacco (which was the common flavor note I picked up with what Sightglass noted).

I was proud of myself for not looking at Sightglass’ flavor notes until after I had finished virtually the entire bag of coffee. I really had a hard time pinpointing too many things, especially when it came to the aroma.

Want to learn more about how I rate coffee? Go here.

Acidity

The acidity is the first thing you’ll probably notice about this coffee when you take a sip of it. The fruitiness is definitely there for the first few seconds before shifting into the earthier notes.

I labeled it as cherry, but this was mostly just a wild guess from my wannabe palate.

I knew it wasn’t lemon. I knew it wasn’t a berry. It wasn’t deciduous fruit from what I could tell. So I feel like I almost settled with cherry by process of elimination.

Score: 4

Aftertaste

The aftertaste was very chocolatey, especially once the coffee cooled. It really stuck around, wasn’t overly bitter or dry. Very nice.

Score: 4.5

Aroma

It simply smelled like coffee to me once it was brewed. As a whole bean, it reminded me of popcorn. Nothing to write home about, but nothing bad either.

Score: 3

Balance

One of the most notable things about this coffee was its balance. Plenty of acidity up front to get toned down by an earthy finish. Easy to drink, despite the lack of complexity.

Score: 5

Body

Heavy body reminiscent of a darker roast. Nothing to complain about before or after swallowing.

Score: 4.5

Complexity

You can  see that I didn’t pick up too much outside of wood, earth, tobacco, lime, cherry, or vanilla. Still, this is a pretty decent range in terms of flavor.

Score: 3

Flavor

To be honest, I didn’t love it. Earthy coffees are fun to drink every once in awhile, but this coffee had characteristics in flavor I’m not generally drawn to.

Score: 2.5

Forgiveness

I was experimenting a lot with grind settings with this coffee. To me, there were subtle differences as I shifted from fine to coarse. To the girlfriend, they were major.

She liked this as I continued to go coarser and coarser.

So will it come out nicely across brew methods? I really have no idea. But as far as grind is concern, you may need to spend more time dialing in to get the best out of this one.

 Score: 4

Sweetness

I wouldn’t characterize much of anything in this coffee sweet. If anything, it comes right at the first sip and through the aftertaste. Otherwise, it’s neither sweet nor bitter.

Score: 2

Versatility

I can’t really rate this category because I didn’t brew across too many methods.

Score: n/a

Is this coffee for you?

I enjoyed the Sumatra, Silaban Village as a new coffee experience. However, I wouldn’t buy it again because it didn’t have the flavor profiles I have really come to love in the coffee I drink.

I will say that this was definitely the most unique coffee I’ve had from Sightglass to-date. Whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing comes down to what you’re into.

I think this coffee would probably be great as a french press or moka.

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  • hi Benji,
    Am seeking a coffee from sumatra. Light roast. Anything you suggest will be better than Allegro from Whole Foods. My local roasters, 12-15 years ago had many good beans from different countries. Unfortunately, as as the market matured, variety and quality diminished. Am open countries other than Sumatra, perhaps Costa Rica, but not Africa, which, based on local offerings, does not appear to be my taste. Price should be about $18. Perhaps a recommendation from Amazon and direct purchase, from a roaster or distributor. Grats. john

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