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.
BURNI TELONG Farmer Group
Situated under the shadows of the Burni Telong which translates as ‘Fire Volcano’ this coffee has been curated by a local collector working out of the Sub District of Karang Rejo. Mahdi has over 20 years’ experience in coffee from this region and has used to this experience to start building lots from groups of local farmers who produce the best coffee. This lot is compromised of 60 farmers who all each harvest coffee from their small 0-1 ha farms which are in the sub districts of Karang Rejo, Panji Mulia & Babbusalam Redelong. Each farmer will produce about 500kg – 100okg of green coffee each year. These farmers during the harvest will pick their coffee and then deliver it to one of the six local collectors who has a de-pulper and space to dry the coffee. Mahdi works with each of the local collectors helping with an operation procedure to ensure they are fermenting the coffee in the correct manner to prevent any spoiling or defective coffee. Once they have dried the coffee to 35 %, then wet hulled and then done a second drying of the coffee to 15% it will then be delivered to Mahdi. Here he will cup and assesses all coffees before constructing the lots making sure the profiles match and moisture is below 13%. After this the coffee is then hand-picked by his selected sorting team who clean the coffee ready to be bagged in grain pro for export. Unlike many supply chains in Sumatra all the coffee is milled and bagged in the town of Takengon unlike much of coffee from this region where this usual occurs in Medan a 12 hour drive away.
Mahdi is passionate about showcasing what the coffee has to offer from this region and he is also part of a local consultancy group called the Gayo Cuppers Team who act as an independent body assessing coffees for other exporters and groups. The group also runs an academy course every year for three days to educate the and encourage the next generation of coffee experts in the 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 sun-dried to a deep green colour. A very deep and full bodied coffee is the result with a prominent smokey dark chocolate flavour.