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KKGO & Ketiara Cooperatives, Sumatra

Takengon Highlands, Sumatra

Salim showing off the harvest of longberry



I have been in love with Indonesia since the mid-1970’s. In 1990, I organized a project for Coffee Kids that brought clean water to over 1,500 coffee villagers. Recently, our “Reclaiming Sumatra” project has supported water projects, reforestation and land reclamation in coffee villages, and an innovative water buffalo eco-management project (the first buffalo was named Uncle Dean!).

Taking Flight program bird survey


Useful Expressions

'Kalang Kabut' - You've got your head in the clouds 
'Kopi enak!' - This coffee is delicious!

Our Sumatran Coffees

Our Sumatran is a classic Gayo Mandheling, grown in the Takengon highlands of North Sumatra. The coffee is grown on small, heavily shaded plots of 2-4 acres above 1,100 meters, by the Ketiara and KKGO Coops.This is a singularly full-bodied coffee, very low in acidity. It is a very hard bean and holds its character deep into the dark roast stage.

The lush forest cover and rich volcanic soils of this region make for very full-bodied coffees. The highest-rated coffees in Indonesia come from northern Sumatra. There, the Gayo Mountain, Lintong, and Mandheling coffees take top prizes as among the best in the world. Super full-bodied, slightly sweet and syrupy, with a touch of earthiness (sometimes a lot of it!) that so distinguishes these coffees. Amazingly low in acid.

Sulawesi produces another great Indonesian coffee from the Toraja regions in the north. These coffees are smooth and clean, often with hints of nuts or spices underneath (perhaps because Sulawesi is on the outer fringe of the fabled Spice Islands, the birthplace of nutmeg, mace, and cloves). The island of Java produces coffees that are solid, with good body and a milder flavor than the Sumatrans, but still worth a try. Bali and Flores are more recent entries into the specialty coffee markets, sweet, full-bodied, and slightly herbal or floral.

People-Centered Development Projects

"Taking Flight" Migratory Bird Program (2019-ongoing)

  • Reforestation of bird habitat, and bird surveys 
  • Partnership with Leuser Foundation and Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center
  • Funding commitment to date: $16,800

"Reclaiming Sumatra" (2017-ongoing)

  • Orangutan habitat restoration
  • Reforestation and land rights in Aceh
  • 11,000 hardwoods planted
  • Water piping upgrade project
  • Funding commitment to date: $10,200

"Paman Dean" Eco-management using Water Buffaloes (2009-ongoing)

  • Farmer-generated idea to use water buffaloes for fertilizer
  • Funding commitment to date: $8,000

Nursery in Sumatra

Past Projects

Water Project for Coffee Kids (1990)

  • Brought water to 1,500 coffee villages in Sumatra
  • Promoted sustainability and improved the standard of living

Reclaiming Sumatra (1990)

  • Supported reforestation and land reclamation projects in addition to the water project

First well in Sumatra

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