The Intensity of Indonesia
Lush and tropical, Indonesia is home to the deepest lake in the world and the sixth largest island. Sumatra’s mountainous and volcanic geography, with the equator at its epicenter and micro-climates within its interior, makes it an island well-suited for growing coffee.
Sumatra coffees are famous for their unique flavor profile, low acidity, thick body and rustic flavors that are often described as earthy. Much of the flavor comes from the way Sumatran coffees are processed via the wet-hull method or Giling Basah in Indonesian, not to be confused with wet-processed coffee. It is this Giling Basah process that results in a coffee with mild acidity, but an intense full body flavor profile.
Indonesia’s liberalized coffee sector enables both local and international exporters to operate freely. Arabica coffee from the North is the popular Mandheling, derived from the Mandalling people who produce it. Farmers sell their coffee in unprocessed form to aggregators who hull, transport and sell it to exporters in green form. Additional processing is performed by exporters to remove defects and prepare green coffee to export standards.
There are two main growing areas in Sumatra: Lake Toba and Gayo. Both are highland areas with rich volcanic soils. West Sumatra is emerging as a distinct third area in its own right. The large geography and sheer number of farms in the region produce distinct flavor profiles in different lots due to each growing area’s micro-climate. However, there are flavor qualities present in all coffees from this region that make them undeniably Sumatra.
Sourcing Partnership Highlight: SUMATRA MANDHELING
Region: Northern Sumatra
Elevation: 900-1500 m
Varietals: Catimor, Typica, USDA
Process: Semi washed
Harvest cycle: March-May & Sept-Dec
Annual Volume: 493 MT
Shipment Period: April-August & Oct-Jan
Cup notes: Palm sugar, caramel, herbal, citrus.
Heavy body, medium acidity. Refined and smooth.
|In Indonesia, the regions of Aceh and North Sumatra are known as one of the main Arabica producing centers of the country. The coffee farmers are predominantly smallholders with in average 0.8 hectares of plantation.
Today, their production is threatened by a lack of expertise on coffee production and very old plantations. The impacts of climate change are also exacerbating the outbreaks of certain pests and diseases.
Since 2018 to 2021, farmers’ groups in both regions have been part of a coffee renovation and agroforestry program sponsored by the Louis Dreyfus Foundation. LDC sustainability team supported the creation of 4 coffee community nurseries between 2018 and 2019, providing 30,000 improved seedlings to coffee farmers to replace their old trees by young coffee trees. In addition, shade trees are delivered to mitigate the consequences of drought and warmer temperatures alongside trainings on good agricultural practices.
This coffee ships from the Belawan port April through August and October through January.
Sourcing Partnership Highlight: SUMATRA BENER MERIAH
Region: Aceh, Bener Meriah
Elevation: 900-1500 MASL
Varietals: Catimor & Typica
Process: Semi washed
Quality: Mandheling, Rainforest Alliance (RFA)
Harvest cycle: March-May & Oct-Dec
Annual Volume: 850 MT
Shipment Period: Feb-March & Nov-Jan
Cup notes: Floral, dark chocolate, spices, herbal finish. Medium body, medium acidity.
|Located in the extreme north of the Sumatra Island, Aceh is a well-known place for the production of Arabica coffee. The social and economic development of the region was severely affected by the conflict between the Indonesian government and the “Free Aceh” Rebels from 1976 to 2005. The coffee industry was not spared.
Zephyr, in partnership with the Louis Dreyfus Foundation, supports more than 800 farmers in the district of Bener Meriah. Through Farmers Field School, LDC agronomists deliver Good Agricultural Practices trainings to help preserve soils and reduce erosion, while helping farmers to ensure better growing conditions for the production of coffee.
The program aims to encourage a more sustainable and environmentally friendly coffee while improving the farmers’ revenues through the Rainforest Alliance certified program.
This coffee ships from the Belawan port February through March and November through January.
Sourcing Partnership Highlight: SAMOSIR ISLAND
Region: North-Sumatra, Samosir Island
Soil type: Volcanic Inceptisol and Andisol
Varietals: Catimor, Typica, USDA
Process: Semi washed, wet hulled
Quality: Mandelhing Grade 1
Harvest cycle: March/May and September/November
Volume: 47 MT annually (estimated production)
Shipment Period: April/August and
October/January from Belawan port
|The province of North Sumatra is known as one of the Arabica producing center in Indonesia. Within North Sumatra lies Samosir, a large volcanic island in the middle of the crater lake “Toba”. The island is a part of the 3 main coffee producing districts in North Sumatra surrounding Lake Toba. Coffee plays an important role in the lives of the Samosir inhabitants. It is the main cash crop in the area with a total estimated production of 4,353 MT. However, the coffee production of the island is threatened both in quantity and quality. The farmers’ community is lacking knowledge and access to information to grow well coffee. The trees are very old and the access to good quality coffee seedlings on the island is sparse. Many of the plantations are overly exposed to sunlight and lack access to proper shade plants. The climate change’s impact (decreased intensity of the rainfall and increasing temperature) has exacerbated the outbreaks of certain pests and diseases.
Through trainings on good agricultural and agroforestry practices (such as the distribution of helpful fruit and vegetable seedlings), we are improving the cultivation techniques of the farmers in this region to mitigate the negative consequences of climate change.
Sourcing Partnership Highlight: SIGALINGGING VILLAGE
|Region: Sigalingging Village- Sidialang, Dairi
Supplier: Naek and Donda Nadapdap
Number of Farmers: 175
Altitude: 1,200 MASL
Variety: Sigararutang and Ateng Super
Quality: Grade 1 Triple Pick
Process: Semi Washed Wet Hulled
Fermentation: Single Fermentation in Bag, 12 hr
Drying: Patio, 1 week
Harvest Months: Oct-Dec (March-May for Fly Crop)
Shipment Months: Nov-Feb (May-July for Fly Crop)
|This coffee comes to us from a community of 175 farmers in Sigalingging Village, managed by Naek Nadapdap and his wife Donda. The village is located in the Dairi region, which is on the west shore of Lake Toba in North Sumatra. Dairi is mostly hills and mountains, averaging 700 to 1,250 metres (2,300 to 4,100 ft) above sea level. The area has a tropical rainforest climate, making it an optimal environment for growing coffee.
In the Sigalingging Village there is a total productive farm area of around 135 hectares. Sigalingging is known for its high quality of Arabica, averaging a yield of about 500-600kgs per hectares. Sigararutang is a common quality grown among areas in North Sumatra.
Farmers sell wet parchment to Naek and Donda, then get paid directly. After processing the parchment into Asalan, they deliver the coffee to Trijaya’s facility in Medan and get paid directly. All prices are mutually agreed upon and based on the local market price and arrival quality.
Naek and Donda, have been coffee producers for over 15 years. Many of their contributing farmers have been trained by farmer training programs hosted by various NGO’s, which has helped them master good agricultural practices.