Farm – Sumatra Blue Toba
Altitude – 1100 – 1375m above sea level.
Location – Sipangan Bolon around Toba Lake, Simalungun.
Preparation – Semi-Washed.
Varietal – Lini – S and Red Caturra
Owners – Cooperative members
Certification – Organic
Coffee was planted in Sumatra by Dutch colonialists in the late 1600s under the guidance of the Dutch East India Trading Company – or Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie (VOC) for our Dutch readers! Between 1602 and 1796 the VOC sent almost a million Europeans to work in the Asia trade on 4,785 ships and netted for their efforts more than 2.5 million tonnes of Asian goods. With Europe’s ever increasing thirst for coffee at that time this commodity played an important role in the trade of Indonesia, as indeed it does today.
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 (Takengon, Bener Mariah) as well as in the Lake Toba region (Lintong Nihuta, Dairi-Sidikalang, Siborongborong, Dolok Sanggul, and Seribu Dolok) to the southwest of Medan.
Aceh has seen much civil unrest throughout its history but most recently due to guerrilla activity organized under the Free Aceh Movement; as a result many farms were abandoned as farmers migrated to escape the unrest. 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.
The Arabica varietals planted in Indonesia were initially Typica and bourbon. Typica is still the most common varietal found in Sumatra although there are also a few others that have been planted over the years, including S- Lini, Caturra, Catimor and hybrids of Ruiru 11.
The first Linie-S plantings came about when the coffee research institute in Java began looking for strains that were both disease-resistant and consistent in production. In an attempt to alleviate the swing in production from crop to crop Linie-S was planted, a variety prized for its heartiness and minimal dieback; Robusta is also widely grown across the island. The average farm size in Sumatra is small, just one to five hectares across the country and different varietals can often be found growing together. Over the last 50 to 100 years this has led to hybridization; natural crossbreeding has produced a variety known locally as Berg en Daal.
Sumatran coffees are mainly produced by a unique semi-washed process which is sometimes described as “wet-hulled” and is known locally as Giling Basah. In this process the coffee is picked, machine pulped (usually on the individual small holding) and then partly sun dried. The parchment is then removed revealing a whitish coloured, swollen green bean when the moisture content is around 30%. The drying is then completed where the seed quickly turns to a dark green colour unique to Sumatra.
KELOMPOK PETANI KOPI BLUE TOBA – Sumatra Blue Toba
Sumatra Blue Toba is located in North Sumatra in the Regency of Simalungun on the shores of the beautiful Lake Toba. Lake Toba is the largest volcanic lake in the world with the lake surface sitting at 900 MASL. The Co-operative compromises of 486 farmers who grow their coffee in the rich and fertile volcanic loam soils which are comprised of a mixture of sand, silt and clay. This soil type combined with the climate allow for the perfect growing conditions of coffee giving the rich and full bodied and smoky coffees associated with the region. The members of the Co-op receive training on tree management looking at the application of pesticides, pruning and picking ripe cherries to assure the best quality possible. Within this, farmers also receive training on conservation of the natural environment as well as ensuring safe working conditions for themselves. Once picked the coffee undergoes a 12 hour fermentation process before then being dried for 2-3 days depending on the weather. Once the coffee has reached the 30 % moisture it is then sent for hulling and then allowed to dry to the regular 11% so it can be stored without the risk of rotting.
Expect Sumatra Blue Toba to display: Sweet Tobacco. Orange. Dark Chocolate.