Our new Sumatra Set showcases a coupla rare varieties grown on the experimental plot at Wahana Estate in Indonesia. Varieties P88 & Longberry don’t get much airtime (this is the first time we’ve run them!), so we wanted to talk shop about these uncommon beans.
First up, it’s good to know that we’ve paired them for a reason. Beyond the fact we’ve got limited stock (the experimental lots at Wahana are on the smaller side), these two varieties are about as distinct as you can get.
P88 & Longberry are essentially a masterclass in compare & contrast – from a flavour point of view, in roasting & from a parentage standpoint.
In cupping, you’ll find the Longberry is subtle & floral, while the P88 is punchy & syrupy to boot. They’re basically the perfect foil to each other in terms of taste – showing off nuances at the opposite ends of the (coffee) flavour spectrum.
This yin & yang vibe carries through into roasting. The lovely Longberry requires a more gentle approach – it’s a delicate creature after all. Heat needs to be carefully applied & monitored. You’ve got to give enough to allow for full flavour development, but maintain restraint to ensure that light floral elegance comes through. On the other hand, the strapping P88 can handle a lot more heat. It rapidly colours through sugar browning if you want it to. Bright, juicy and complex at the lighter end of the spectrum to deep syrupy decadence when we really push things – it’s a burly bean, that’s for sure.
Behind all of this of course is the lineage. Both these rarities represent the OG arms of the Arabica tree. The Longberry variety with the Typica parentage, the P88 variety with the Bourbon connection. Our long friend is thought to have a connection to similarly lengthy Typica mutations from Ethiopia like Harrar and Geisha, while P88 was introduced to Indonesia from Colombia via the Dutch.
Growing wise, they’re also divergent. Longberry is a tricky beast, carrying through its sensitivity to the field – it has lower yields, it’s more susceptible to leaf rust & has a longer maturation time. Conversely, the full forward P88 is straight out the gate as a higher yielding, hardier grower. In fact, it’s been determined by the Indonesian Coffee and Cocoa Research Institute to have above average climate adaptability & an excellent taste profile.
With all this in mind, it makes sense that the low yield Longberry is rare, but we’re a lil stumped as to why P88 isn’t as widely known & drunk. Could it be the bean has previously had a bad rep? One thing’s for sure, in the hands of Wahana it’s been allowed to shine.
So far, we’ve been all contrast & no compare, but what do these two uncommon varieties have in common? They’re obviously both delicious, complex & excellent quality coffees. The Indonesian aspect has added body to their taste profile. And then then there’s the Wahana link.
As we said up top, both these bad boys are from the experimental allotment at Wahana Estate. As producers, they’re always pushing the boat out when it comes to innovation & quality. Behind their success is a solid structure that allows for little surprises like these rare gems to rise to the top. Basically, they’ve got incredible attention to detail & the cleanest processing facilities we’ve ever seen. Aside from their squeaky clean creds, another of their aims is to eke out varieties that are well-suited to the local climate. Wahana Estate first planted a small amount of P88 in 2011, while
Longberry was first planted circa 2006 (it takes 7 years for the Longberry variety to reach maturity, compared to 3-4 years for other varieties) – both have been proven to be super comfy growers in the Lake Toba region (where Wahana estate is based).
Anyways, enough from us on this, it’s time to take the plunge, get brewin’ & taste all these different elements at play in your cup. Both paint a pretty vivid picture on your palate & we hope you love ‘em as much as we do.
Need a refresher on varieties? Head here.