Les Stoneham just recently returned from a 3 week trip to Sumatra. Here's an update on his trip...
If there is such a thing as 110% humidity, you'll feel it on the coast of West Sumatra. The hot tropical air urges one to escape to the inland mountains of Kerinci National Forest. The cooler mountain air is accompanied by some of the most beautiful land on earth. Valleys of rice paddies, rolling hills of tea and mountain slopes of coffee and cinnamon all surrounded by beautiful untouched rainforest.
The coffee of course is what brings me here. More particularly, the hopes of helping these farming communities improve their economy by producing high quality Arabica coffee. While the altitude and environment is perfect for growing Arabica coffee, they currently are growing the lower-grade Robusta species, which is hard on the land and offers them very little income. The people here care about both their land and heritage but are constantly faced with hard realities of either protecting their prized national forest, feeding their family or leaving their homes for better work in the city. With the current prices for agricultural goods being so low, a project to increase the value, thus increase the farmer's incomes, offers great potential for an area in desperate need of sustaining their way of life.
The diversity of coffees produced in Indonesia is amazing. Many of the country's islands produce coffee besides the most well known island, Java. The Specialty Coffee Association of Indonesia website, www.scai-indo.org offers a great resource to learn more about the particular growing regions currently producing Arabica coffee for the specialty market. Try the variety of Indonesian coffees offered by Vienna Coffee to experience the diversity of character they possess. Check out some of their offerings... Organic, Sumatra Gayoland, Sumatra Mandheling, SWP Sumatra Decaf, and Sulawesi (Celebes) Toraja.
Some day we hope you will find Kerinci coffee in that list. But much like the development of our La Armonia Hermosa coffee in Guatemala, this project will take many years. Follow the unfolding story along with us while you discover the other wonderful coffees of Indonesia.