Coffee farmers – our most important partners

Coffee farmers are our most important partners.

. If we succeed in motivating them to manage their land sustainably, the prerequisites are given for respectful interaction with wildlife as well as conservation of the rainforest.

We support our partners in the conversion to organic farming and strengthen their traditional knowledge about the significance of the complex relationship between tropical rainforest and coffee cultivation. That’s the background of the unique Orang Utan Coffee.


The Gayo Highland, Aceh Province

The Gayo Highland is situated at 900 – 2000 m a s l in the north of Sumatra. In 1924, the Dutch brought the coffee to Aceh and started in the Gayo Highland with cultivation of Arabica coffee. Today approximately 70,000 ha of coffee plantations are cultivated by approximately 60,000 coffee farmers. The Gayo highland is therefore the largest Arabica producing area worldwide at this altitude.

The coffee benefits from the climate of the neighbouring protected forests of the Leuser Ecosystem. With two million ha (half the size of Switzerland!) this is the largest rainforest conservation area in Southeast Asia with one of the highest diversity of species worldwide. The Leuser Ecosystem includes the Gunung Leuser National Park of one million hectares and offers four highly endangered large mammal species their last habitat: Sumatra rhino, Sumatra elephant, Sumatra tiger and Sumatra orangutan.

Coffeefarmers in the Gayo Highland

Wih Bersih

The idyllic village of Wih Bersih is situated in the district of Aceh Tengah at an altitude of 1200 up to 1600 m a s l on the terraced grounds of a volcano. It is surrounded by its coffee plantations and lies in close neighbourhood of vast intact montane rainforest, covering the top of the volcano. The coffee farmers of Wih Bersih were our first partners!

In 2012 we started with 40 farmers and today there are 75 of them with around 53 hectares of Arabica coffee, mainly Tim-Tim and Ateng coffee varieties. Our first coffee farmers were organic-certified in April 2014. Wih Bersih literally translated means «clean water». Thanks to the intact rainforest, Wih Bersih profits of pristine water. The biodiversity on this plantation is high, also because the farmers plant a variety of shade trees such as the legume Lamotoro as well as avocado, mandarin, jackfruit, durian, papaya, banana and cinnamon.

Umang Isaq

Umang Isaq, which means “Uncle Isaac”, came to the project in July 2013 as our second partner. The village is located in a picturesque scenery in the district of Aceh Tengah more than five hours drive from Takengon, the capital of Gayo-Highlands.

This region has a special history. During the Aceh civil war, it was a secret retreat of the Aceh independence fighters. This led to a conflict with the Indonesian army, resulting in the expulsion of the local village community. Only after the end of the civil war in 2005 the coffee farmers gradually returned and took care of the neglected plantations.

The coffee plantations are situated at a height of 1000 to 1400 m a s l. Actually we are cooperating with 33 farmers, all together cultivating 38 hectares. The location of these plantations is special, because there are no other coffee plantations in the neighbourhood.

Mekar Indah

The small village «Mekar Indah» («beautiful blossom») is an offshoot of the village Wih Bersih and its coffee plantations are adjacent to those of Wih Bersih at a height of 1200 to 1600 m a s l in the district of Central Aceh. Since 2015, the Orang Utan Coffee Project partners with 22 farmers who cultivate an area of 17.7 ha of coffee plantations, mainly Tim-Tim and Ateng varieties. Village culture and coffee cultivation in Mekar Indah are hardly different from those in Wih Bersih.

Panji Mulia

The name “Panji Mulia” means “noble victory”. We are not aware of the origin of this name; perhaps a fight took place here? These coffee plantations are located in the district of Bener Meriah at an altitude of 1300 to 1500 m a s l. The Orang Utan Coffee Project partners with 40 coffee farmers, who cultivate an area of 25.5 ha of coffee plantations. The varieties grown here are Arabica Ateng and Tim-Tim.

The peculiarity of this farmer group is that it originates from Javanese immigrants, who worked in Dutch tea plantations in colonial times. “Panji Mulia” is the first farmer group that does not belong to the predominant ethnic group of Gayo. This is a valuable contribution to an ethnic balance within the Orang Utan Coffee Project.

Uning Bertih

Since a long time, coffee cultivation has provided the livelihood for this community.The plantations are located at an altitude of 1100 – 1300 m a s l in the district of Bener Meriah. We partner with 17 coffee farmers who cultivate a total of 19.6 ha.

The most common Arabica varieties found in the area are Tim-Tim and Ateng. The village of Uning Bertih is embedded in a charming landscape at the foot of Mount Burni Kelong.