Sumarno Temanggung Central Java
Mr Sumarno has been growing coffee since 1999. Before that, he was primarily producing tobacco, which was a difficult crop to work with due to its high demands of agrochemicals. The transition to coffee proved to be an excellent decision, as Sumarno has succeeded at producing high yields of high-quality coffee. After his first harvest in 2005, Sumarno began to learn more about the coffee market, the agronomy behind the crop, and different processing methods. He is known throughout this region thanks to his extensive coffee knowledge, and now runs a government-owned coffee farm on the slopes of Mount Sindoro. Various producers throughout the village are also part-owners of the farm and assist with the daily tasks of the farm.
Sumarno is supported by Belift, a coalition of coffee professionals seeking to improve the income of producers in Indonesia. The group is comprised of three young men, originally from Indonesia, who studied in the US, only to return to their home country to open their own coffee shop and roastery in 2015. This then expanded to a coffee academy in 2017 whereby they began to work more closely with producers.
They are developing unique relationships with coffee producers specifically in the Central and East Java region, to showcase the hard work of coffee producers throughout this infamous region. Belift are also educating producers about newer processing methods to help incorporate more Indonesian farms into the specialty market. The work conducted by Belift is creating a future for coffee production in Indonesia and lending support to the improvement of coffee-producing communities.
Indonesia has been exporting coffee since 1711, when the Dutch East India Company sent its first shipment from Java to Europe. The crop was profitable for many exporters and importers: less so for the country’s producers. In 1960, the novel ‘Max Havelaar: Or the Coffee Auctions of the Dutch Trading Company’ was published, outlining the abuses endorsed by the Colonial Dutch system. The novel transformed the labour system and even provided inspiration for the first Fair Trade label.
Indonesia’s production was originally nearly 100% Arabica until, in the 1870s, coffee leaf rust decimated production. Farmers slowly replaced Arabica with robusta, and today, although Indonesia is a significant coffee producing country – the fifth largest in the world behind Brazil, Colombia, Honduras, and Vietnam – only around 25% of production is Arabica.