Dean with Sumatran Farmer

Takengon Highlands, Sumatra

Coffee was introduced to Indonesia (the "East Indies") by the Dutch in the mid-1600's to break the monopoly of the Turkish and Arabic traders over the beans that were only grown in Ethiopia and Yemen at the time. The Indonesian archipelago is made up of well over a thousand islands big and small. Many of them grow spectacular coffee, some of the most in-demand in the trade, especially for organic coffees. 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.

Ketiara and KKGO

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.

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).

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.

Useful Expressions

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

Our Sumatran Coffees

Arctic Sunrise

Moka Java

Moka Sumatra

Ring of Fire

Sumatran French Roast

Thunder Mug Decaf