In North Sumatran coffee markets, the growers sell their coffee in wet parchment form. The coffee is sold by weight, but measured with a 2 liter volume canister called “tumba”. It equals 1.2 kg roughly.
The coffee parchment must be sold wet, meaning the moisture content is still high sometimes even 50% and the buyer, usually a middleman, will pay the weekly market price to the grower for this wet parchment coffee.
The Long rainy season here dictates many of the processing methods, and trading practices. It may seem odd to an outsider, but the system works. As long as no one abuses it. That’s another story.
March is a very busy month in the Sumatran Highlands. Coffee is being harvested Daily by the metric ton. A trip around the growing region and the market made me even more excited about our first harvest. Now, how did she get that big bag to the market?
The Art Harvesting with a Smile
I have recently been inspired by a blogger from Australia to get back into the groove and write about my passion. Coffee. If you have ever started a blog and then stopped for whatever reason(s) you know how difficult it can be to get back into the groove. It was tempting to just ditch the old blog and start fresh, you know like the other one never happened. I couldn’t do it. Okay, so then what next? Try to pick up where I left off? Not possible, too much has happened in the last year to ever go back. So I will start again by stating our mission and goals both personal and professionl and how we have adapted them to the reality of the coffee industry. We set out with a mission to grow and source great arabicas here in Simalungun, North Sumatra and also to improve the processing practices in our region. Two very big goals, two very determined people. These goals are still a work in progress, growing coffee can involve sacrifice on multiple levels. It takes time, patience and diligence. I believe there is coffee here in North Sumatra worthy of the highest honor a grower can receive for putting in the time and doing the diligence, it’s called the Cup of Excellence.I want it, why not aim high? Check out this link to learn more about this organization and how they have worked to develop recognition and reward for coffee growers all over the world that strive for excellence.
We are into our second full year with Lisa & Leo’s Organic Coffee farm and the fruit is starting to develop on our trees. This is reason enough to be all giddy with excitement, however, there’s more to report……
Our Signature Varietal Andong Sari (AS1)
Our Farm Nov. 2012 | Back Bay
Our limited budget wouldn’t allow us to develop a local Coffee Mill large enough to serve the growers in our region who were looking for someone to partner with in order to improve their processing methods. A common goal was to keep the coffee grown in the region separated from other regions prior to export and develop traceable coffee that could be marketed as direct trade. The growers and region would finally receive the recognition for all their hard work in the field. This type of goal requires a huge commitiment of manpower and funding. Which is where PT Volkopi comes in. This forward thinking company has been working in Sumatra for more than a decade, developing partnerships with growers and suppliers in the Lintong Region. They have made a commitment to Simalungun by funding and constructing a Processing Mill in Saribu Dolok, our home village. This Mill opened in September 2012 and is being managed by a transparent group with an established network of growers and leaders, all part of the local church known here as GKPS and CUM Talenta, their Credit Union. Leo is proud to be named the project manger for the Saribu Dolok Mill by Mike Lutz, GM of PT Volkopi. They are working to make the common goal of consistent quality control and traceable coffee processing a reality in Simalungun. This mill will be key in the success of the region, making the Cup of Excellence an achievable goal.
Leo(second from right) and part of the team at the Mill in Saribu Dolok
We have much to be thankful for. All the sacrifices and hard work are bearing fruit, just like our trees. I offer my personal thanks now to that blogger from Australia, Richard Austin with Five Senses Coffee- all the best to you and your family! Many thanks to Mike Lutz with Volkopi for bringing his vision and commitment to Simalungun.
Lisa Matthews Wiriadjaja
Sumatra has a unique combination of coffee processing methods. Each one gives the coffee beans a chance to develop a different cup profile. Skilled final processing and consistent quality control give all of our beans a clean finish and superior grading. The coffees you drink from our regions are the ones you will rely on everyday for your morning cup, espressos’ and desert coffees.
Organic Coffee is not just about the growing, we use ECO friendly methods for processing cherries and beans and use all the waste for composting our farm. Water used for processing is carefully recycled. Part of our mission is to create great coffee responsibly.
Patio Sun Drying the parchment and hand sorting the hulled green beans is the final step to a superior bean quality. It’s all in the details.
A busy fall planting and processing season has kept us in the fields and away from the computers. We’ve been enjoying some great growing conditions and bountiful harvests.
Rushing to and from the farm on Mariah Dolok
Leo has also been busy working with local Direct Trade partners to improve crop maintenance techniques and grow organically. Things are changing in Simalungun North Sumatra, for the better.
Organic Sigara Rutang Shaded Arabica
A trip to USA in late summer to visit some specialty coffee roasters was highlighted by new friendships and GREAT coffee. Our facebook page will soon share links to coffee shops you may want to check out.
Coffee roasting is an art when you care about flavor.
Please visit us at lisaandleosorganic.net to read more about our region and the coffees available from North Sumatra Indonesia. Our dot com site is under construction for eCommerce and will be ready later this year. We will feature Chemex and Hario products along with our own roasted kopi luwak coffee.
Cold brew coffees are gaining popularity in specialty roast coffee shops across America. We looked at some cold brew equipment and discovered a new way to enjoy our favorite arabicas. Just chill. This beauty makes 25 cups! You can use the same idea and make cold brew coffee at home.
Leo Loves Coffee mixed with ice cream, here is one of his favorite summer drinks from our friends at Macehat in Medan. Of course, summertime means grilling great food to go with those iced coffees. We love Satay!!
Don’t forget to try iced coffee at home this summer. You can create great coffee ice cream drinks for cooling down and chilling out.
Look for home brewing equipment on our ecommerce site. Going Live this fall. We will have great coffee recipes and brewing guides too.