Takengon Highlands, Aceh Province, Indonesia
Coffee, though not native to the islands of Indonesia, was brought by Dutch settlers of the 17th century. Reliable rainfall, the cool temperatures of the highlands, and the fertile volcanic soils have enabled the country to become the third-largest coffee producer in the world, exporting 9.7 million bags in 2014.
Making Sumatran coffees available to the specialty coffee world has been not without recent struggle. Civil war raged from the late 1990’s to 2004, forcing many coffee farmers to abandon their coffee gardens. Only after the December 2004 earthquake (measuring 9.1 on the Richter scale) and the resulting tsunami which inflicted severe damage and hardship in the country did the powers that be sign a peace accord, and farmers—or their widows—could return to grow coffee on their little farms. Innovation in coffee processing and traceability is slowly happening in Sumatra and will improve the lives of all who count on coffee for their primary income.