Process: Fully Washed
Milk Chocolate, Caramel, dried fig, tropical fruit
Grown:Java Frinsa Estate, Western Java
Varietal: Sigarar Utang
Indonesia is a unique country that lies on the equator and spread across 17,500 islands with more than 300 ethnic groups and 700 living languages spoken throughout the whole archipelago.
It sits on the notorious Pacific Ring of Fire with the largest number of highly active volcanoes in the world. Despite natural disasters that happens every year, this also brings a great blessing to the fertility of Indonesian soil. They say coffee can be grown elsewhere, but the best coffee is grown on high altitude and rich volcanic soils.
However as with many Asian countries, Indonesia faces a big challenge in deforestation due to the high population density and rapid industrialisation. Massive floods and landslides are a common problem during Indonesia's rainy season, where deforestation has left hilly areas vulnerable to erosion during destructive tropical rainfall.
The government sees that coffee farming can be a smart option for reforestation. Through many NGOs, the authorities tried to encourage land use change from vegetables farming to coffee projects. This effort was not successful as the villagers wanted to see the proven result before they dare to make changes.
Wildan Mustofa saw natural disasters happen year after year in his neighbourhood. The farmer always suffers the most. Previously a potato breeder and farmer himself, Wildan found his calling to help the other farmers.
He started his first coffee project at Sindangkerta, Weninggalih area in 2010. This later became his main growing area in Java Frinsa Estate. Since the first year of production, Wildan has aimed to focus on quality which requires meticulous attention and processes.
His idea was not instantly accepted by the locals. Producing palm sugar was the main source of living, but this was not enough to feed the whole family. Forcing the men to go to the cities to work as cheap construction workers earning less than USD 8 per day, while the women preferred to be migrant workers in foreign countries. Thus leaving the children “parentless” at home without proper adult supervision.
In early days, Wildan needed to “import” coffee pickers from a nearby area, Pengalengan, as the people in Sindangkerta were sceptical and reluctant to join the project. After a while they began to learn and understand how growing coffee could help them to improve their livelihoods and ensure their household needs. Slowly but surely mothers and fathers are returning back to the village and their children.
There is also a reason why Frinsa is using the white cotton bags instead of importing jute bags from India or Bangladesh. When the cherry-picking season ends, the women pickers can continue sewing the cotton bags and still earn a living.
Frinsa Estate also focuses on education. They donated a portion of their land in Mekarwangi village to build a high school for the community. Previously when the children finished their elementary school, they had to walk around 10 km (one way) every day just to reach the nearest high school. Now they can continue their education in a much easier way.