Kerinci Gunung Tujuh
This coffee is produced by the 250 members of the Koerintji Barokah Bersama Cooperative who live and farm on a plateau that sits at the foot of Mount Kerinci on the island of Sumatra. Mount Kerinci is one of the many volcanoes in the Pacific Ring of Fire, a 40,000-kilometer horseshoe-shaped series of 452 volcanoes that are part of an almost constant dance of eruptions and plate movements. Mount Kerinci’s historic eruptions have assured that the surrounding area is lush and verdant thanks to the deep supply of fertile volcanic soil.
The cooperative is managed by Triyono, who leads members in processing and roasting their own coffee. They have a fully outfitted roasting facility, including a cupping lab, next to the dry mill. This is especially impressive considering the cooperative was founded in mid-2017!
Almost all farms on Sumatra are small. On average, farms are between 0.5 to 2.5 hectares. Coffee is usually the primary cash crop for farmers, but most also intercrop their trees alongside vegetables, maize and fruit. This intercropped produce will make up a substantial part of the family’s diet for the year.
In addition to growing coffee as a cash crop, many smallholder farmers also work at hired laborers at the nearby tea plantations. Tea is also a huge crop in the area. The bigger tea plantations are often near coffee farms. When the harvest is finished, coffee farmers will go there and pick leaves under contracted labor.
There are more and more initiatives by farmers on Sumatra to organize themselves into cooperatives that can help share resources, organize training and negotiate better prices.
Harvest & Post-harvest
During the harvest season, coffee is hand picked, with labor usually supplied by the immediate family. After picking, the coffee will be delivered to a UPH collection center.
Triyono oversees the activities on and around nine UPH stations owned by the cooperative. A UPH is a collection center where coffee cherries are bought by the coop and where the coffee is processed before moving it to the central mill. Essentially, a UPH functions as a small washing station.
Indonesia is known for its unique ‘Wet Hulled’ Process (Giling Basah). Triyono and his team are trying to add to this tradition by diversifying the coop’s processing methods.
With this fully washed lot, the coffee is pulped and then left to ferment overnight in buckets. It is washed the next by agitation the next day to remove the mucilage. The coffee is first dried on patios for the first drying phase. Afterwards, it is transferred to raised beds. The beds are located in domes so as to protect the coffee from rain or harsh sunlight. When dry, the coffee is milled and sorted by hand.
As of 2019, contributing farmers receive 9,500 rupiahs per kg of cherry. The result is that members of the coop have a fixed buyer for their cherries, and the profit of the coop at the end of the year is either invested in infrastructure to upscale quality or is shared with the producers. Farmers also receive technical support and seedlings for shade trees for on and around the farm. To join the coop, a producer pays a one-time membership fee of around 400 dollars (5 million rupiahs). To streamline the operation, there is an agriculturalist providing technical assistance to make sure the standard operation procedures are applied while processing at the different stations. Each UPH is located in a different area and receives cherries from different farmer groups.
Coffee in Indonesia
With more than 17,000 islands, Indonesia is one of the most diverse coffee origins in terms of geographical and cultural diversity. Coffee has been at the center of trade ever since the Dutch planted the first seeds in the late 1600s.
Every region has developed its own style of production and has its own set of coffee varieties. The most well known regions for specialty coffee are North Sumatra, South-Sulawesi, West-Java, Flores and East-Timor. Robusta is mostly grown in South Sumatra in Lampung, Bengkulu, and Palembang.