Sumatra revisited

Posted by MCM on January 22, 2012
Filed under On The Road

Coffee sorters at Wahana
Wahana Estate experimental nursery
Drying patios at Wahana Estate

We have just returned from an exciting week in Northern Sumatra with our hosts Sarimakmur (owners of Wahana Estate) and are so pleased to see the leaps and bounds in their progress.

We spent a few days at the luscious Wahana Estate as well as visiting smaller farms and dry mills in the Lake Toba region.

Wahana Estate really is leading the way for the Indonesian specialty coffee industry. They have planted over 16 varieties of coffee trees and are continuously experimenting with new ways of cultivating and processing. Wahana provide wet mill facilities for many of the local cooperatives who neither have the resources nor the expertise to process the coffees to an acceptable standard. They also give guidance and advice to coffee growers all over Indonesia from planting, to upkeep and dealing with CBB (coffee berry borers). The CBB have notably increased over Indonesia in previous years and locals believe this is due to climate change and them thriving in warmer conditions. Wahana assist farmers in planting shade trees too prevent this as well as traps to attract and catch the CBB.

Wahana Estate are managing several development projects. In particular they are building a Coffee Training School at the estate. Plans are in place for construction to take place in 2012.The school will be a hub for all coffee growers across Indonesian to attend and obtain training on pruning, shade trees, processing, etc. It will have accommodation facilities for those from afar and feature a fully equipped cupping lab. The school will be free for the farmers and transport will be provided to and from the estate.

After the farm visits we returned to Medan and the Sarimakmur HQ. There we had a full tour of their massive production facilities and were treated to a cupping. It was a very interesting table where we compared different varietals from Wahana, including Rasuna, Antung, Andong Sari, Usda, Costa and Longberry.

Highlights on the table were the Longberry (clean and floral) and Toraja (heavy body, tobacco leaf and forest floor). We look forward to trying these coffees again in about 1 month time to see how they open up with some rest.

The Wahana coffees we carry at MCM are always estate grown microlots, fully traceable and proven to be cleanest in the cup. You can check out all previous MCM Indonesian coffees here

On the final day of the trip we visited Wahana Estate's cafe in Medan; Opal Cafe. Here the winning 2011 Nordic Barista Cup team (the Swedes) demonstrated different techniques (aeropress, pour over, latte art and espresso) to an audience of local baristas and coffee enthusiasts. Their thirst for knowledge was evident and impressive.

We look forward to following this fascinating country and its coffee industry in the coming years and no doubt will be seeing more and more specialty grade coffees from this part of world.

Further Reading:
Nordic Barista Cup website here
Square Mile Sumatra blog here
MCM's 2010 field trip to Sumatra here