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July 2012

May 2nd
I woke moments before the call to prayer here in Medan. The sun has yet to pull up into the horizon as dueling Mosques wake the city. Medan is essentially a melding of old world and new. It has over 6 million people with at least half Muslim, 30% Christian and the rest are Hindu or Buddhist. I planned to meet with some other suppliers while in Medan before leaving to fly up north to Banda Aceh and Takengon. We have a lot of samples to go through and are also planning some farm visits in a new area that looks extremely promising. Even though I’ve been to Sumatra many times in the last five years, I’m always amazed at the cultural aspect of Indonesia and how it melds into the coffee culture in so many interesting ways. Sumatra stirs a lot of things up for me— mainly that they have an amazing climate for excellent, clean coffee but need improved methods for collecting coffee quicker for processing.

May 5th
I flew to Takengon to meet with Danny Piatscheck and his son Reinhardt of PT Gajah Mountain group. We arranged two days of cupping at their brand new lab and dry mill in town. There’s great new potential for PT Gajah to source more directly from around the lake areas that have already been identified for quality (Bintang, Bah, Sukadawai, and Pondok Baru). Right after our arrival, we met with Gayo Mandiri (one of the suppliers to PT Gajah). We conducted a cupping and tour of their facility in Pondok Baru and cupped a new lot that is currently on its way to us. I provided a brief cupping training for Amin Mohammad, the director, and his cooperative leadership. Rule number one, never smoke clove cigarettes in or near the cupping lab!

Takengon is a small city primarily dependent upon coffee, chili peppers and other cash crops such as tomatoes. Coffee is terraced around the lake. The town of almost 200,000 sits at the lake’s bank at well over 1,100 meters above sea level. We can reach Bintang and Pondok Baru within a day’s drive of the lake. We selected areas where we feel the coffees are producing better quality and focused on those areas.

May 6th
After a seven hour drive, we arrived in an area that’s new to us. To our knowledge, we’re the first buyers ever to visit this region. In the past, the 1,500-2,000 farmers in the village sold their coffees to coyotes or village representatives in Takengon. They always had their coffee bulked together with other Aceh coffees. We proposed that Danny would give field training on better husbandry and nursery management. They committed to keep the coffees from this area separate and deliver them to PT Gajah and Stumptown. We cupped Typica lots and found the coffees very balanced and sweet. This area has the potential to evolve into some separated lots which could comprise a Gajah Reserve as higher scoring coffees are identified.  Most of the coffee in this pristine area is grown at 1300-1500 meters along a river that winds through the small community. Many of these farmers have been growing coffee since 1984. After the 2004 Tsunami, a number of farmers were relocated to the area as NGO money infiltrated the region.


May 7th
We returned to a full day of cupping of various regions with nice results for our overall Gajah profile. Some specific areas such as Bintang showed higher and were more aligned with the Stumptown profile. We spent about four hours before the rains started in and we needed to get back in the truck and make the seven hour return. We arrived very late that night and had a lot of brainstorming about the new areas. We met with several farmers in the area and things look pretty promising. Almost everywhere we looked in the area we saw domestic tobacco production, which stands out in contrast to the coffee farms.

May 8th
We found some nice standouts while cupping in the lab, including a Typica sample we took from the last farmer we visited in the new regions.  We also liked Pondok Baru from the Northeastern region, Bah which is North of Lake Tawar and our usual favorite from Bintang. With PT Gajah’s new dry mill open and receiving coffees, we see potential for major improvements. We had great discussions about working towards varietal and regional separation for the top coffees in the region.  Danny plans to encourage the leaders in the village to organize themselves into a cooperative and focus on organic certification.

We continued to focus on maintaining the Stumptown profile with Joka Syauta, the lead cupper and buyer and other partner with PT Gajah in Takengon.  Joka manages quality control in the lab and their new dry mill in addition to actively buying coffee in various regions.  We look forward to new discoveries within the vast area of Aceh.

Darrin Daniel

The Idiot’s Guide to Drinking Coffee in Seattle

I wandered some more, and ran into a kind soul who said I had to check out Stumptown Coffee Roasters.

Brynn and Will greeted me there.

“We specialize in single-cup Chemexes,” Brynn said when I asked about their
signature drink.

I had no clue what that meant.

“Do you have cappuccinos?” I asked.

“Yep, we make ‘em with our Hair Bender blend. The first Stumptown was in a converted hair salon in Portland, hence the name,” Brynn said.

“We actually have a cupping at 3:00 if you want to check that out,” Will offered as I enjoyed my drink, my hand shaking with each lift of the cup.

A cupping? I felt like such a neophyte.

Marcy would be our fearless leader for what I learned was a time-honored tradition.

“We do cuppings here to develop our palates as baristas, so we can recognize flavor profiles and insure consistency,” she began. “That’s why there are three cups of each of the five coffees we will be sampling.”

Then Marcy explained the steps:
1. Smell each coffee in its dry state
2. Add boiling water and smell in wet state
3.Get spoon and break “crust,” scoop escaping aroma towards you*
4. Take a spoonful from each cup and sip to compare flavors*
5. Spit out if so desired

(* Do not cross-contaminate spoons. Use new spoons for each cup.)

I followed her directions with the fervor of a religious devotee as we compared the five roasts against themselves and with each other.

When we finished I felt one step closer to unlocking the magic of the bean, but was convinced that the mystical process would take longer than a day.

I also felt light-headed. I’d had my coffee fix for the year.

Read full article here at http://intelligenttravel.nationalgeographic.com


Rather than write and rather than talk, Vanessa drew parallel lines. Lines close enough together for easy perfection, but where crookedness was allowed. One line of a natural length, a length that might be long enough (ruminative) or short enough (stacatto) for one well thought-outline of text. After one line was drawn, the idea was to repeat until the thought was thought; at the end of each line she came back to the point of origin to begin the next. Each time she listened to her hand slide against the surface of the paper, from the completion of one line to the nativity of the next, the noise like breath.

The strikethrough–instead of an edit and instead of a negation–becomes the first communication. As if to say, “listen, but please do not hear me.”

The forms and marks around the lines are the everyday and everything else outside of the initiative: walking, best friendships, bus choreography, arcane trivia, memorized poems, muscle spasms, lilies, insomnia, migratory butterflies, salt.

Vanessa Kauffman is an artist in Portland, Oregon and is acutely interested in the visual organization of information. She has a BFA in Printmaking from Pacific Northwest College of Art, 2009.

Opening reception is 6 pm – 8 pm Sunday, July 8th.

Stumptown Coffee Roasters
3356 SE Belmont Street
Portland, OR
M-F: 6AM-9PM / S-S: 7AM-9PM
TEL: 503-232-8889

Curator Contact Info:
Wendy Swartz

Maria Joan Dixon
“Anything You Want Done, Baby, I’ll Do It Naturally”

For Anything You Want Done, Baby, I’ll Do It Naturally, her first solo painting exhibition at Stumptown’s Downtown café, Maria Joan Dixon uses spray painted, tie-dyed Western Americana textiles as the canvas for a series of portraits featuring Tarot Card Empresses. In explicit pastiche mode, the work acts as a fantasy montage of Dixon’s own perceived past lives as an Empress through the Middle Ages, as much as it is a nod toward her European heritage and a life-changing spiritual awakening she had at the hands of a Native American shaman. Donning her token jeweled hands and smiley faces, she weaves symbols of graffiti, fashion, friendship, creativity, unconditional love, and ceremony with classical detailing, passing through the popular culture of our times. Together, Dixon’s Empresses can be seen as manifesting the all-encompassing Mother that she is, perhaps, longing to be, replete with tokens of family, beauty, and abundance.

Maria Joan Dixon is a born and raised Portland painter. Teaching herself acrylic painting since childhood, Dixon developed her graffiti handle in 2005, moving to oil paints in 2010 and creating then her classical graffiti genre. Her work was most recently shown at New Image Art Gallery in Los Angeles, CA—as the only female graffiti artist in the DRUGS crew—and was previously exhibited in Portland, OR at Breeze Block Gallery, Sugar Gallery, and Stumptown Downtown. Dixon is a staple of Portland identity, having created album covers for Adrian Orange, Valet, Swan Island, and Eternal Tapestry (upcoming), and murals for Rad Summer, The Box Social, and Sol Republic Headquarters.

On view July 2nd – August 2nd, 2012
Opening reception Sunday, July 8th, 5 – 7 p.m.

Stumptown Coffee Roasters
128 SW Third Avenue
Portland, OR
M-F: 6am-7pm / S-S: 7am-7pm