Sumatra Lintong and Mandheling. This praise applies mainly to the finest of the traditional arabica coffees of northern Sumatra, the best of those sold under the market names Lintong and Mandheling. Lintong properly describes only coffees grown in a relatively small region just southwest of Lake Toba in the kecamatan or district of Lintongnihuta. Small plots of coffee are scattered over a high, un
dulating plateau of fern-covered clay. The coffee is grown without shade, but also without chemicals of any kind, and almost entirely by small holders. Mandheling is a more comprehensive designation, referring both to Lintong coffees and to coffees grown under similar conditions in the regency of Diari, north of Lake Toba.
Sellers often label Lintong and Mandheling coffees dry-processed. In fact, the fruit usually is removed from the bean by a variety of hybrid methods. The most prevalent is a backyard version of the wet method. The farmers remove the skins from their little crops of coffee cherries immediately after picking using rickety pulping machines ingeniously constructed from scrap metal and wood and bicycle parts. The skinned, slimy beans are then allowed to ferment overnight in woven plastic bags. In the morning the fruit pulp or mucilage, loosened by the overnight fermentation, is washed off the beans by hand. The coffee (now in its parchment skin) is given a preliminary drying on sheets in the farmer’s front yard. The parchment skin is then removed by machine at a middleman’s warehouse and the coffee is further dried. Finally, the coffee is trucked down to the port city of Medan, where it is dried a third and last time.