(From Jakarta Post)
By Juliana Harsianti
The words “Indonesian coffee” in the minds of most coffee aficionados would first bring up Gayo, Toraja or Papuan coffee, which have indeed come to prominence. However, Indonesia has more to offer to the world of coffee lovers.
Several coffee varieties with growing potential have emerged in various parts of Java, including one from the slopes of Mount Merapi, Yogyakarta.
“When I first surveyed the slopes of Mount Merapi, the land was still severely affected by the eruption of the volcano,” said food enthusiast Lisa Virgiano recently. At the time, the gastronomist observed the coffee potential on the mountain’s slopes for the purpose of providing guidance for local coffee growers.
Sumijo, a coordinator of coffee farmers on the slopes of Mt. Merapi, said that after the land was damaged by hot volcanic ash, many farmers had changed jobs, becoming miners, motorcycle-taxi or truck drivers and tourist guides. Working on their own inherited land, they had earlier also been less inclined to develop their businesses and improve their crops.
Moreover, noted Sumijo, local farmers’ coffee beans had also for a long time been purchased by middlemen based on pre-harvest deals at lower prices. Worse still, they hadn’t yet developed the habit of drinking good quality coffee, consuming only what was left after being sold.
“They sold their best beans to middlemen and relished whatever was left, which they described as good enough to enjoy while chatting and smoking. How could they produce quality beans if they had never tasted good coffee,” he wondered.
Along with Sumijo, Lisa later gave guidance to motivate local coffee growers. Good quality beans can only be produced by monitoring plant conditions while in harvest season. Farmers were taught to measure the sugar contents of coffee beans at certain times to get the maximum level, which indicates the right time to harvest them.
The sugar content make the coffee taste fairly sweet, giving Merapi coffee its own characteristic flavor. According to Lisa, Merapi’s Arabica and Robusta coffee varieties have the sweet taste of coconut sugar at the tongue tip, with the aroma of coconut and caramel as well. Merapi coffee beans are also medium sized and have a moderate level of acidity. Read more