Indonesia Sumatra Gayo Natural
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Country/Region: Indonesia/Aceh Province
Varietal: Bourbon, Ateng Super
Elevation: 1400 - 1500 m.a.s.l.
We Taste: Apricot, White Grape, Guava
Produced by 9 coffee farmers, this is a natural-processed coffee from the small town of Batin Baru, in Aceh Province, Sumatra. Specially selected for their commitment to quality, these producers work with exporter IndoCafCo to produce one of the cleanest Indonesian coffees we have tasted.
In Sumatra, coffee is typically produced by a huge number of growers with small farms, rarely exceeding 2 hectares. They process the coffee on their own, usually via the wet-hulled method, and sell it at either the local market or to a larger exporter. These producers usually process the coffee via a local method called giling basah, or wet-hulled, where the parchment layer is removed prematurely, when the coffee is dried to 30-35% moisture. This is a protective layer that is typically left on until the coffee is ready to be exported, but in the case of giling basah it is removed earlier to expedite drying times.
Choosing to work directly with the farmers from the harvest stage, the exporter Indo CafCo operates differently. They purchase cherries directly from the farmers, and process the coffee at their mill, omitting any intermediaries. By working closely with the farmers, Indo CafCo is able to uphold stringent quality control standards, and also train farmers in cultivation and harvest methods. The producers benefit greatly from this arrangement, where they work with the company to see marked improvements in the cherry quality year on year.
The name of this coffee, Gayo, refers to both the region, as well as the ethnic group. Gayo is a region in the Aceh Province, while Gayonese is used to refer to the ethnic group indigenous to the area, who live predominantly in three areas in Aceh Province. Most Gayonese are involved in coffee farming, with farms passed down from generation to generation.
Most farmers in Gayo highlands plant local varieties such as Timtim Aceh, Bourbon, P88, BP 542A, and Ateng Super. These were planted in recent times, replacing S line and Catimor Jaluk varieties that were prone to leaf rust and root disease. There are now over 20 varieties grown in Aceh, contributing to some varied and often confusing proliferation of names/varieties.
Ateng is a local term for the Catimor variety, and Ateng Super is an extension of it, developed locally via a long research trial by the Indonesia Coffee and Cocoa Reserch Institute (ICCRI). Its tree branch is shorter, and screen size is larger than the original variety.
During harvest, cherries are selectively handpicked by producers. Traditionally in Indonesia, farmers tend to pick not just red cherries, but also green and yellow (unripe), and dark red cherries (overripe). This is often seen as necessary, due to risk of cherry loss due to theft. Indo CafCo is changing this notion by incentivising through premiums paid for high quality cherry, and providing feedback directly to the farmers.
Starting with just 1 single farmer, IndoCafCo now works with 9 different farmers, that have shown commitment to further investing in their farms to produce better quality cherry. These producers contribute to both honey and natural lots, which are dried on raised bed for 5-6 weeks, sorted as they dry, removing the underripe and damaged cherries until the best ones remain.