Securing volumes of unique traceable coffees in Indonesia

Securing volumes of unique traceable coffees in Indonesia

Morten Wennersgaard
June 23, 2021

Our first container of Indonesians has been booked for a Tropiq customer, and future containers will be delivered to Belgium for spot sales through our sister company, Nordic Approach. Current volumes are limited, however we are working to increase both volumes and variety.

To that end I visited Indonesia in June for an extremely packed itinerary including cuppings in Jakarta, a quick visit to Sumatra to meet a cooperative we think has great potential, followed by a trip to Java to check in on Wildan Mustofa of Frinsa Estate.

With both new and existing partners, we hope to build some serious volumes of distinctly flavoured and fully traceable coffees from Indonesia.

Potential of Indonesian coffees

Indonesia is definitely a place with very distinct and unique cup characters. I believe their competitive advantage will be on coffee profiles and cup attributes, more than high volumes at lower prices. There is enormous diversity in Indonesia based on its geography, climate and the varieties grown, but it is still an underdeveloped specialty market. It’s not like you can go there and buy off the shelf. If we want higher volumes of anything other than the non-traceable regular quality, we have to specify our exact needs and pre-book customised lots. This is what we’re doing with Frinsa Estate, pre-financing special preparations in order to increase volumes.  

Success with Java washed coffees

Our focus continues to be in east Java with Wildan Mustofa at Frinsa Estate. We have had great success with washed coffees from his farm, and this has been extended to surrounding outgrowers. In this case Wildan buys cherries from the smallholders and does the post harvest processing on his estate. These are sold as Frinsa Collective coffees.

Huge potential for naturals and special preps in Java

Unlike many places in Indonesia where harvest coincides with the rainy season making conditions very humid, it is pretty dry in Java during the harvest. This makes it perfect for naturals and honeys.

We also have the great fortune of working with Wildan, who is an extraordinary farmer. He doesn’t have that much coffee experience, but he makes up for this with a very progressive mindset and eagerness to learn. He almost never says no to our suggestions and requests, instead he is constantly looking for solutions to any potential issues that arise.

On this trip we convinced him to start processing naturals on scale. In addition to the traditional washed process coffees, we are now experimenting with fermentation with bacteria like lactobacillus in washed, naturals and honeys. Wildan has adapted our bag fermentation technique (basically anaerobic) and we will also apply the above methods for the traditional wet-hulled process where the coffee is dried in the green state. To create the volumes necessary for these special prep coffees, Wildan has partnered with nearby medium-sized estates and their outgrowers.

Just days after I left Wildan in Java, he sent me photos of the changes he had already made, new equipment he has invested in, new processing methods underway as well as the new smallholder producer group. If all goes well we will invest more in the community of smaller farmers in the next years.  

Potential in Sumatra

We will also start doing trials of small volumes from a cooperative in Kerinci in Sumatra. This will be a range of washed, naturals and improved wet hulled. We have a young and ambitious coffee professional by the name of David working for us on the ground in Sumatra. He is engaging with farmers and following up with the cooperative during harvest and processing.

Future plans for Tropiq in Indonesia

I think this can be a very exciting year for us regarding the Indonesian coffees. Volumes are limited, but if planned well we should be able to step it up next year to a couple of containers.

Interested in Indonesian coffees?  Contact our sourcing team.

More than a decade of experience sourcing and buying directly.