Farm: Various smallholder farmers
Varietal: Catimor & Various
Processing: Wet - Hulled / Giling Basah
Altitude: 1,200 to 1,400 metres above sea level
Owner: Mr. Rimbon Surbakti and Mr. Irwan
Town / City: Various
Region: North Sumatra and Aceh
Mandheling G1 Triple-Picked - Indonesia
Sumatra Mandheling is a blend composed exclusively by farmers only supplying to PT. Indo Cafco. PT. Indo CafCo have worked tirelessly with small famers to find the top qualities in these regions and assist in developing their practices to ensure sustainability and quality in the long term. They have strong relationships with the producers in both regions, and as one of their importing partners, Mercanta is thrilled to be able to share their coffee with you.
Tanah Karo is located in the northernmost tip of the Lake Toba caldera. It is a key agricultural area of North Sumatra. Coffee in this region is processed using a unique wet-hulled processing technique, commonly known as ‘Giling Basah’.
Aceh Bener Meriah is one of the most recognised growing regions in Indonesia. Its conditions are perfect for producing quality coffee; regular rainfall, rich soil, average farm altitudes of 1,300 masl, and an excellent range of shade trees.
There are very few coffee estates or even co-ops in Sumatra. Instead, a huge number of tiny growers – farms rarely exceed 2 hectares – usually sell small quantities of coffee at their local village market and bargain hard for the best price for their semi-washed coffee. Indo CafCo does things slightly differently. They work closely with various parties along the supply chain: farmers, farmer groups and collectors. Although these parties are not ‘members’ of Indo CafCo per se, each is considered a partner in the supply chain.
There are various methods of delivering coffee to market in Sumatra. The most commonly found system (and the one responsible for this lot) is where smallholder farmers process their own coffee using the wet-hulled, traditional Giling Basah method. Growers pulp their cherries at the farm using basic pulping machines; then, they partially dry the mucilage before sending the crop on to millers (usually via a collector, as most farmers are very small and may not have resources to bring the coffee themselves) to remove the parchment in a semi-wet state. It is thought that this process gives Sumatran beans their distinctive bluish-green appearance. The exporter purchases this asalan (partially dried parchment coffee) from collectors and then sorts and grades the coffee at their mill. Another important role of the collector is that because they collect or gathercoffee from their group of farmers (within their buying area), they are able to supply large volumes to exporters, to fulfil volume-based / commercial sales requirements. Smallholders with less than a hectare would not be able to do this on their own.
While this coffee IS very traditional, it is also very unusual in two senses. Firstly, the relationship that Indo CafCo has with its collectors is unusual. Most times, collectors are similar to agents / middle-men but all of the collectors working with Indo CafCo are traceable to the farm level. They are not employees of Indo CafCo; however, they all have a long-standing relationship with one another – in some cases stretching back to over a decade. The partnership works based on mutual trust and transparency, and many collectors help convey training and information back to farmers.
The second sense in which this coffee ‘strays’ from tradition is that it has been ‘triple picked’ at the mill. Triple-picked describes the preparation of green beans and means that coffee has been sorted and cleaned three times before shipment. For this standard, the defect count in 300 grams is 20 secondary defects and 1 primary defect. Currently there are a few Grade 1 standards in Sumatra. There is standard Grade 1, Grade 1 Double-picked and Grade 1 Triple-picked. It can get confusing sometimes!
In addition to working closely with collectors, Indo CafCo has multiple training and agricultural extension services that it offers to producers from across Sumatra. Many of these programs aim to improve harvesting and cultivation practices. Participants have grown every year since 2005, when the company first began activities. Progress is slow, but visible, and apparent in excellent lots such as this one!