Coffee was planted in Sumatra by Dutch colonialists in the late 1600s under the guidance of the Dutch East India Trading Company. Following early success in Java coffee was then introduced to Sumatra, initially to the northern region of Aceh around Lake Tawar. Today coffee is still widely produced in these northern regions of Aceh, though the region has had some difficult times in recent years.
Many coffee farms were abandoned as farmers migrated to escape the unrest caused by the separatist guerrilla group the Free Aceh Movement. Incredibly the devastation of the 2004 Boxing Day earthquake and tsunami did provide a silver lining as it focused international attention on Banda Aceh. Subsequent aid spotlighted the region and served to bring relative peace to Aceh for a time; now farms are being revitalized via new planting and pruning and hope is returning.
Bener Meriah Farmer Group
Located near Tingkem in the Regency of Bener Meriah, the co-opertaive compromises of 400 farmers spread over 450 hectares who grow their coffee in the rich and fertile volcanic loam soils which are comprised of a mixture of sand, silt and clay. This soil type combined with the climate allow for the perfect growing conditions of coffee giving the rich and full bodied, spicy and smokey coffees associated with the region. The Mandheling coffee represent all Arabica coffee in this area and the name derives from the Mandailing people who produce coffee in the Tapanuli region.
The coffee is semi washed and wet-hulled, a process that involves the part- drying of freshly pulped beans before removing the parchment then allowing the swollen and ‘blanched’ beans to be sundried to a deep green colour. A very deep and full bodied coffee is the result with a prominent smokey dark chocolate flavour.