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Sumatra 2013

Origin Trip: Sumatra (Lake Toba and Lake Tawar Regions)

(except – full story available here)

While in Sumatra, the Crop to Cup team visited various sourcing regions to get more traceability and awareness around their coffee production. The Gayo region is like the country western of coffee origins. It has a rugged twang and happens to be full of cowboys. The community cooperation here to combat insect damage in the Sumatran coffee is incredibly valuable. The farmers in the Gayo region are part of the newly formed One Coffee Cooperative. Many farmers in Gayo relocated there after the 2004 tsunami, and when they arrived they received support from the International Migration Organization (IMO) on how to grow, process, and cup specialty coffee. Lingtong in Lake Toba is slightly closer to Medan, and many farmers sell directly to exporters in Medan rather than through the Sumatran middle-men, called ‘Tokehs.’ In Lingtong they are working to connect more smallholder and female farmers directly to exporters. These farmers are Rain Forest Alliance certified, which allows for more traceability of the coffee.

Sumatra is an old and large Indonesian island— when the Dutch East Indian Trading Company came, Aceh (and later Java) became the first commercial coffee origins that the world had seen. In the middle of the island is a caldera called Lake Toba, which is largest caldera from the largest volcanic explosion this world has ever seen. It is because of this lake that Sumatra has the largest rainfall seen by any coffee exporting country – the lake feeds clouds trapped in by the island’s 1500m tall mountains. However big the island of Sumatra, there is only one government authorized port of export – the 15 million person city of Medan. To get here coffee has to travels as far as 375 miles, over massive mountains and on roads that are mostly still mud.

Coffee Consumption in Sumatra

Most farmers in Sumatra do not drink their own coffees; the local brew of choice is a mixture of robusta, corn, and local spices. In the Gayonese community, they were serving the most delicious natural-processed coffee. Not only were some farmers drinking their own coffees here, they were experimenting with their crops. These farmers roasted and properly cupped their coffee for consumption as well.

Coffee Consumption in Sumatra

Most farmers in Sumatra do not drink their own coffees; the local brew of choice is a mixture of robusta, corn, and local spices. In the Gayonese community, they were serving the most delicious natural-processed coffee. Not only were some farmers drinking their own coffees here, they were experimenting with their crops. These farmers roasted and properly cupped their coffee for consumption as well.