Though the Indonesian island of Java had already made a name for itself in the coffee world, Sumatra’s Arabica production only began in the 1700s under Dutch colonialism. The Aceh region to the northern end of the island around Lake Tawar was the first to begin cultivating coffee, and has become famous for the complex profile of fruit, earth, and wood notes, brought about largely from their traditional wet hulling process called “gilling basah.”
Until relatively recently, Sumatran coffees were not sold by region, but marketed under the rather generic label of “Mandheling” However, as quality has improved, distinctive characteristics are bringing regions into the spotlight. The forested Aceh region, which includes the areas of Takengon and Bener Mariah, is one of these. Farmers here are proud of their coffee-growing heritage, and the more they understand the direct correlation between quality coffee and direct premiums, the more sustainable will be their success.