A few weeks ago I went to Sun Moon Lake (日月潭) for the day. I know coffee is grown in the area, but had never seen any beans available.
I also hadn’t been to the impressively built Sun Moon Lake Visitor Centre. It’s situated on the west side of the lake, a few kilometres drive/cycle past the little tourist town of 水社 on the western side of the lake (Google Maps). Strangely, instead of the standard tea shop that occupies such a complex, there is a busy coffee (& gift products) shop. In fact, that’s all there is! It was doing a busy trade on a Saturday afternoon and there were lots of people drinking and browsing the attached gift products section. Inside this section there were lots of local produce: tea, biscuits, pastries…and coffee beans. Yippee!
I’d been keeping an eye out for these and was excited to eventually find them. They were one of a few coffee related products including iced coffee made from local beans. NT$100 for a small bottle was quite an expensive sample. (Call me a skeptic but I’m sure it’s made from a cheap blend with a few local beans amongst a heap of imported beans).
The cafe had both syphon and espresso coffee available hot or cold, but I wasn’t confident in the quality of espresso (coffee snob!) and had no time to enjoy with an active kid in tow…
But the main interest to me were the beans. There are several bags but – beware – all are blends apart from the single bag (now conveniently a black bag) of 100% Taiwan beans. The prices for the blends range from NT$450-600 for a half pound bag. I was only really interested in the 100% local beans though. The 台灣純豆 are priced at NT$800 for half pound (半磅) (approx. US$27 for 230gms) or NT$750 + shipping online. I pondered a while but eventually bought them as I thought it’d be worth a try.
The beans were roasted about 10 days earlier (mid-week). I couldn’t see any indication of the roasting strength.
I’m no expert but I can describe what I tasted. I tried brewing them in both the Syphon and Aeropress, drunk hot and iced, with milk and black. Overall I’m impressed at their versatility. As far as flavour goes, they have a strong nuttiness and a slight coffee sourness. I can imagine if they were well blended their sourness could be reduced. I also think they would be very fitting for the Taiwanese palate which enjoys the nuttiness of an Indonesian Mandheling (and also sweetness!).
(A side note: I’ve recently been through a bag of Ethiopian Yirgacheffe and they definitely have their similarities; both in their versatility and their flavour profile.)
I wouldn’t mind trying an espresso from these beans, but that’ll be down the track (as I’m currently short an Espresso machine…). I also would live to find out of they have any green beans. My guess is that there isn’t any available as the entire annual crop would be sold to the local coffee company responsible for the roasting and packaging.
I won’t be buying these again soon. Although the blend would be near my regular price point, I don’t think the value-for-money is worth it. I will, however, strongly consider buying a bag or two of the 100% Taiwanese beans as a present to take when visiting friends back in Australia. I think it’ll be a novel gift for those who enjoy their coffee.
Taiwan Huisun Coffee
There are a few stores/retailers that sell these beans; in Taipei, Taichung, Renai, Puli and the SML Visitor Centre.Here are their addresses:
- Sun Moon Lake Visitor Centre: 南投縣魚池鄉水社村中山路599號
- Taipei: 台北市北投區學園路一號活動中心
- Renai: 南投縣仁愛鄉新生村山林巷1~12號
- Puli: 南投縣埔里鎮南村里中山路四段2-12號
- Taichung (& main office): 台中市西區華美西街一段75-1號
I plan on soon visiting the Taichung store to check them out.
Taiwan Huisun Coffee (台灣惠蓀咖啡) : http://www.huisun.tw/ (Requires Flash)