Sumatra Mandheling is named for the region of Sumatra outside of Padang in West Sumatra. The name is used as a marketing tool by the coffee producers as no coffee is actually grown in this region. Sumatra Lingtong is named after the Lintong area in North Sumatra where actual coffee is produced.
Although Marco Polo was the first European to visit Sumatra in c.1292 it wasn't until 1592 the Dutch started to gain control of native states that this land. About 100 years later the competition to cultivate coffee outside of Arabia was strong, even with the Arabs trying hard to maintain their monopoly on the crop. The Dutch finally managed to obtain seedlings and after a failed attempt in India managed success in growing coffee in Batavia (Jakarta), on the island of Java, which is now called Indonesia. The coffee plants flurished and were soon transported to the nearby islands of Sumatra and Celebes.
In the beginning the Dutch planted and cultivated Arabica coffee but by the turn of that century the Arabica plants were devestated by Coffee Rust. The Dutch response to the Coffee Rust was to import and plant the inferior Liberica coffee. The Liberica coffee bean is larger than Arabica beans but cups more like a Robusta coffee. This variety had a short lived popularity and was also affected by the Coffee Rust. The coffee was then changed again and Robusta was planted which still makes up the majority of coffee produced today.
Natural disaster and desease have played a big part in the history of coffee producting in Sumatra as well as World War II and the regions strugle for independence. During the first part of the 20th century the industry was controlled by the Dutch coffee plantation owners and the Colonial government. Before World War II this region had an extensive rail system to bring coffee and other commodities such as sugar, pepper, tea and tobacco to the port cities. After this region gained independence the coffee industry came under the rule of the new government or were abandoned. Today most of the coffee production is handled by small farms or cooperatives.