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
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, 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.
With a range of altitude of 1200-1600 meters asl, Mekar Indah (translated as “beautiful bloom”) is a small village in the district of Aceh Tengah (Central Aceh), Aceh Province, Sumatra, Indonesia. Here we have an Orang Utan Coffee partnership with 22 farmers, covering an area of 17.7 ha, that has been in operation since 2015. Varieties of Arabica Tim-Tim and Ateng coffee beans are grow throughout the area.
Located in the same sector, Mekar Indah is a neighboring village of Wih Bersih. Therefore, the character of the community and the agricultural cultivation in both locations is all of the same great quality.
Located in the district of Aceh Tengah, with an altitude of 1300-1500 meters asl, lies the village of Panji Mulia, or “Noble Flag”. Here we work with 40 farmers, with plantations spanning an area of 25.2 hectares. Common varieties of coffee beans found at this location are Arabica Tim-Tim and Ateng.
Generally, here the farmers are trans migrants from the island of Java, who used to work in the tea plantations during colonial times. Now they have settled in the location and become coffee farmers.
The cultivation of coffee has become the most common profession in this village. The Orang Utan Coffee Project partners with 17 farmers in Uning Bertih, located 1100-1300 meters asl, in the district of Bener Meriah. The site covers an area of 19.6 hectares, with beautiful scenery as its located at foot of the Burni Kelong volcano. The most common varieties found the in the area being Arabica Tim-Tim and Ateng, with the harvests being especially bountiful here due to its location.
Pondok means “hut” and Gajah “elephant” in English. Locals believe, back in time the village of Pondok Gajah used be visited to see elephants. Located in 1400-1500 meters asl, in district of Bener Meriah, the site is known as one of the best coffees grown area in the Gayo Highland, with its sufficient altitude and fertile soil condition. Apart from coffee as the main commodity, ginger is also preferred to be planted in the area. Which, besides being an additional income for the farmers, it is a good organic alternative to reduce weed in between the coffee trees. Like other villages, the most coffee varieties found are still Tim-Tim and Ateng. We are proud to welcome Pondok Gajah as the Orang Utan Coffee partner, starting January 2020.
Tawar Miko can be translatet as “Peace”. The village is located at the foot of the Pantan Terong volcano, the soils there are extremely rich and fertile for agriculture. Here the coffee has been admired by all those lucky enough to taste it because of the unique Gayo coffee character, with not just the fertile soil, but also a high standard of agriculture practices in place, result in a top quality product.