We’re in transit home from Indonesia. This trip marks our 3rd to Aceh, Sumatra’s northernmost province, in the past 12 months. Those of you who have tasted our Gajah Aceh peaberry and flat bean offerings know that our project out there is already hitting on all cylinders. We’ve scoured the mountains surrounding Lake Tawar and have discovered a handful of pockets of land where farmers are still growing heirloom Typica and Bourbon varietals.
To give a bit of background as to why our coffee is superior…. The Aceh province was mired in political and military conflict between 1976 – 2005 as the GAM, which translates to ‘Free Aceh Movement’ in English, insurgency group made waves trying to separate Aceh from Indonesian sovereignty. Daily violence between the GAM and the Indonesian military caused farmers to flee their farms for safer grounds in other parts of the Sumatran island.
During that same time period farmers around Lake Toba (Sumatra) and Java began replanting their farms with the higher yielding, more disease resistant and also lower quality Catimor/Ateng varietals. The Acehenese farms, abandoned at that point, were left planted with these heirloom varietals that were originally brought to the province by Arab traders at the beginning of the 1900’s. Due to the conflict, these varietals still remain in the Acehenese region encompassing Lake Tawar.
The quality of our Gajah Aceh lots can most definitely be primarily attributed to their composition of Typica and Bourbon. Our next lot(s) of Gajah Aceh will be more selectively sorted at the dry mill as well as packaged and shipped in grainpro bags to ensure they arrive as fresh as their initial taste.
In addition to finding two new areas planted with preferred varietals, we now have a plan in place to begin washing a small portion of them with mechanical demucilaging equipment a la our processing method in Costa Rica.
This will be the first time in history that we’ll be able to trace fully washed, clean coffee back to exact mountainsides, ridges and micro climates of Sumatra. This is extremely unique; something that the coffee industry has not yet witnessed. It’s a work in progress but barring any obstacles in our path we should begin offering these coffees by fall 2010. We’ll keep you posted.