Coffee lovers pampered at festival

JAKARTA - Dozens of coffee enthusiasts crowded the Coffee and Cocoa Festival 2014 held in the Senayan Sports Hall in South Jakarta on Saturday.

The festival, held by the Indonesian Regency Administrations Association (Apkasi), has invited more than 20 producers from across the archipelago, from Yogyakarta to North Toraja in South Sulawesi. The festival will go on until Dec. 7.

Apkasi head Isran Noor said the festival aimed to introduce coffee makers to their consumers, both local and international. Isran said that Indonesian specialty coffees were well known around the world, such as the gourmet Luwak coffee, mainly produced in Sumatra, Java, Bali and Sulawesi.

"Although Kopi Luwak is globally well known, we also want to introduce other delicious coffee grown and brewed in Indonesia," Isran said at the event.

Various coffee producers from different regencies were showcased at the festival.

For example, aside from Luwak coffee, Indonesia is also known for its Toraja coffee. North Toraja is one of the main producers of the well-known Toraja Arabica Tipika coffee. North Toraja regency head of plantation crop development and marketing Hendrik Simak said that Toraja's Arabica Tipika coffee had a smell and taste unlike any other.

The coffee, he said, has been exported to Japan, China, South Korea and the US. "The Toraja Arabica Tipika is our specialty. It has an amazing aroma and an incredible taste," Hendrik told The Jakarta Post on Saturday.

Another example is Bandung, which had a coffee industry that died in the 1960s, but which has now quietly picked itself back up. Its coffee is now exported to Taiwan, China, Thailand and South Korea.

"In 1969, Bandung's coffee industry had completely collapsed after the citywide coffee rust epidemic. It wasn't until the early 2000s that farmers started growing coffee again, this time more carefully and with better knowledge," said Bandung Coffee Farmer Association chairman Supriatnadinuri.

The coffee rust is caused by a fungus called Hemileia vastatrix. The green leaves on coffee plantations will often turn yellow.

Most coffee farmers in Bandung, Supri said, were located in Pangalengan district. He went on to say that now Bandung produced Arabica and even Luwak coffee, which was sold for around Rp 100,000 (US$8.3) per gram.

Meanwhile, Yogyakarta is also an up-and-coming coffee producer. Yogyakarta's Mount Merapi is known for its dangerous eruptions. However, little do visitors know, Merapi is also known for its coffee farmers, who plant on the foothills of the mountain.

Ngopiyogkarto (NGYK) Coffee is one of the modest companies that have helped Yogyakarta's coffee farmers. NGYK manager Laurentius Nawang said that the farmers only harvested once a year and this year the coffee production was predicted to amount to 300 kilograms.

"The coffee farmers in Merapi plant both robusta and Arabica. It's quite difficult for them to harvest because often their plantations are hampered by the eruptions. However, their coffee is quite good and we are currently trying to help them to produce more," Laurentius said.

Aside from Merapi, he said, farmers also planted coffee at the Menoreh Hills in Kulon Progo regency.

One visitor, Aldi Ignatius, said that he was amazed at the numerous number of Indonesian coffee producers. "I did not know we had so many local producers. In Indonesia, we mostly see chain coffee shops. I think local coffee producers should be promoted more," he said.

Aldi, who was a self-proclaimed coffee enthusiast, said that her favourite was the Toraja coffee.

"I bought two bags of Toraja coffee," he said.