Sumatran Tigers are the smallest tiger species. Adults grow to between 200-250 lbs. For comparison, Bengal Tigers can grow to twice that size. Sumatran tigers are also among the most endangered species of tiger. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, Sumatran Tigers are critically endangered. The tigers that once lived on the islands of Java and Bali are extinct, and there are fewer than 400 of their surviving cousins remaining on the island of Sumatra, down from over 1000 in 1978.
Two factors have contributed most to the tiger's shrinking population: poaching and deforestation. Tiger bones are used in traditional Chinese medicines, and while China has farms that raise tigers for their bones, poachers can make a lot of money smuggling illegal tiger bones into China and other countries that practice traditional Chinese medicine. According to a survey from TRAFFIC, a network that monitors the global wildlife trade, poaching is responsible for over 78% of estimated Sumatran tiger deaths—amounting to at least 40 animals per year.
Another factor is the loss of the tigers' habitat through deforestation. Trees are cut for logging and oil palm plantations. Sumatra has set aside conservation areas for tigers and other endangered species (Elephants, orangutans and rhinoceroses share the forests with the tigers, making Sumatra the only place outside zoos where those species live together.), but road construction and illegal logging are breaking the conservation zones into smaller and smaller pieces. Tigers hunt over a large territory, and their shrinking habitat is an existential threats to the species.
While I was reading about Sumatran Tigers, I began to wonder if the smallholder farms that grow the coffee we buy were contributing to the tiger's shrinking habitat. I was happy to learn that they don't. High quality Arabica coffee grows best at high altitude. The coffee we buy grows on land between 3000 and 8000 feet above sea level. Sumatran Tigers live in low-lying wetlands. They love rivers, swamps and peat forests, and are known for being great swimmers. They're not very good climbers, though. They don't climb trees or mountains.
We love Sumatran coffee, its full, almost syrupy body and its bold, complex flavor, and are happy we can enjoy Sumatra Harimau Tiger with a clear conscience. We like it at a medium, Full City, roast level, which bring out citrusy, lemongrass notes, but it is also excellent roasted dark, to a Northern or Southern Italian roast level. Darker roast levels maximize the very heavy body and sweet flavor.
Do you enjoy coffee from Sumatra? Or do you know more about the fascinating creatures that share the Sumatran forests. If so, we'd love to hear from you. You can share your thoughts on the Facebook thread or in a comment on this blog. Or, if you'd like to share your opinion with the wider world, leave us a coffee review on Google or on your favorite review site. Not only do we value your opinions, but reviews help more people find us. Help us connect coffee lovers to fresh, quality coffee!
~ Carrie, Paul and all of us at Coffee by the Roast