Thursday, October 11, 2012

Back to Aceh . . . in time for the Indonesia Specialty Coffee Auction!

During the past months of involvement with agencies dealing with the Rohingya crisis, JMD has not been idle in Aceh.  As thouse of you know who have been following this blog, JMD’s work started in Aceh Jaya district right after the 2004 tsunami, and we still have offices in Lamno subdistrict, where for four years we’ve been trying to assist the 400-plantation Robusta coffee farming community, which was devastated by the 30-year conflict and has yet to recover.  This region of Aceh, and in fact of Indonesia, is home to some of the best Robusta coffee in the world, and prior to the plantations’ near-destruction was known as THE best coffee in Indonesia.  Robusta is used in espresso, blends, and instant coffee.  It is the coffee most widely used in Asia and Indonesia, while the west favors the milder Arabica blends.  Traders the world over are moaning about the lack of high-quality Robusta—necessary for really good espresso.  Italy, in particular, collectively weeps at the dearth. 

One reason, we believe, that Robusta is given such a tiny berth on the ship of coffee commodities is that until now, no universal quality standards have been developed for its production, evaluation, and marketing.  Imagine our delight, then, to receive the gracious assistance of the Coffee Quality Institute (CQI), which itself developed Arabica standards and is now embarking on the equally challenging task of creating a world market for Robusta. 

 To make a long story short, one of the ways that CQI is helping us refine our successful Arabical production peer education training is by submitting beans from this year’s harvest for evaluation at the Indonesia Specialty Coffee Association’s Coffee Auction in Surabaya from the 12-14th.  That’s tomorrow—or rather today in Indonesia.  Unfortunately, the larger cupping competition and conference was cancelled due to the keynote speaker’s inability to attend, but the auction segment of the program promises to be very useful to all attendees.  When we find out if these beans have the potential to be high enough quality to merit an investment in reclaiming these plantations, we’ll start submitting proposals to agencies including USAID for basic assistance to get production back to where it was pre-conflict.  Our goal for the 400 Lamno (Aceh Jaya) farmers is to return Robusta production from 50 tons to 500 tons per year, which would raise the local economy’s revenue from $130,000 to $1,300,000 per year—from coffee alone.  If that works, we can  expand northward in the district where additional 5,000 Robusta coffee farmers  need assistance. With some economy of scale re-established in Aceh , Robusta can begin to be treated like the future “It-Commodity” that we know it is destined to be.

 I’ll keep you posted, but do look in on the folks at SCAI, as well as CQI—both great groups whose aim is to improve the standard of living of people producing global commodities.

Specialty Coffee Association of Indonesia
Asosiasi Kopi Spesial Indonesia
Plaza Aminta Lt. 3 Suite 302, Jl. TB Simatupang Kav. 10
Jakarta, 12310 Indonesia, Tel: +62-21-7511941 ;  Fax: +62-21-7511411 ; Email:

Coffee Quality Institute
Long Beach, CA



30 September 2012
10am -11.30am
Press Conference ISCA 2012,
12 October 2012
2pm -3.30pm
Press Conference ISCA 2012,
12 October 2012
Roasting Class
Manuel Diaz from Coffee Quality Institute 9Master Roasting and Q/R Grader Instructor)
13 October 2012
9am onwards
Judging 30 coffee samples for auction
National and International judges
14 October 2012
Opening Ceremony
Vice minister of Agriculture (TBD)
10am – 12am
Cupping buyers
1pm – 5 pm
15 October 2012
7am – 5pm
Visit Plantation in Kaliwining,Jember-East Java
16 October 2012
Visit Indonesia Coffee and Cacao Research Institute
1pm – 4pm
Heading to Kalisat Jampit area
17 October 2012
Visit coffee plantation own by PTPN XII
1pm – 9pm
Return to Surabaya