​​​​​​​Consistency and Perseverance Give Birth to Signature Coffee

Indonesia​​     English​


"The harvested coffee beans will be first washed before grinding, and then fermented by soaking them in a bucket of water for 12 hours, and finally rinsed three times until completely clean," said Rudi Hartoni Silaban, explaining how his signature green coffee beans were produced. His coffee comes with full body, mild acidity, nutty, herbal, and spicy characteristics. 

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EditDescription:Rudi picks carefully the red coffee cherry at harvest time in order to get the best taste.
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In 2012, Rudi decided to start a coffee business. Born and raised in a farm family, he returned from Medan, the capital of North Sumatra Province, and began planting Arabica coffee of Sigarar Utang variety in his one-hectare land in Tapian Nauli III Village, Parlombuan, Sipahutar Sub-District, North Tapanuli District, North Sumatra Province. The area is renowned for being an Arabica coffee producing region due to its altitude (± 1,500 meters above sea level), which is well-suited for growing coffee.

Back then, together with fellow farmers from his village, Rudi founded the Tapanuli Lestari Coffee Farmers Association with a mission to boost their coffee production. The association actively participated in various training sessions on seedling, harvesting, and post-harvesting held by exporters from North Tapanuli.

"But, not everything I learned from the training could be put into practice in my coffee plantation. What I really needed was on-site mentoring on how to properly grow and cultivate coffee," Rudi said.​​​

In the past, Rudi's planting and cultivating methods were ineffective. For instance, he used herbicides for pest control, applied fertilizers directly on the stem, and skipped pruning. In 2014, Rudi attended a training course on conservation coffee in 2014. Ever since, Rudi manually controls pest by weeding instead of spraying herbicides. He also spreads fertilizers about 60-80 cm from the stem towards the outer canopy in a circular pattern on the ground surface, and prunes his plants to make harvesting easier. 

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Furthermore, he learned that planting shade trees around coffee trees was important to maintain a stable temperature amid global warming. He uses fertilizers made from waste material found around his plantation: coffee pods, animal feces, coffee rinse water, and other waste or litter, which is mixed with Indigenous Micro Organisms (IMO) to produce organic fertilizers.

To avoid erosion, he learned to make biopore infiltration holes and place them between the coffee plants. These holes are essential to improve rainwater absorption and can be used as containers to make organic fertilizers.

"Through the conservation training, the villagers and I learned to understand more about coffee, and how it protected our welfare. We also learned how to cultivate coffee without harming the environment and keeping the forests preserved," Rudi said on the lessons he received.

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Armed with this new knowledge, he provided education about conservation coffee to 15 farmers groups in Sipahutar Sub-District as a volunteer extension worker. This knowledge has also motivated him to switch from producing green coffee beans (kopi gabah) to selling hulled green coffee beans (kopi beras). One of the deciding factors for him was the economy of it, in which the former generated a smaller income than the latter.

Typically, green coffee beans are sold to middlemen at Rp20,000 per kilogram, while hulled green coffee beans that have been properly processed at Rp90,000 per kilogram. Rudi’s signature coffee is known in his hometown as Tano Batak Coffee.

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EditQuote Text (Do not add quotation marks):To produce green coffee beans, the harvested coffee beans will be first washed before grinding, and then fermented by soaking them in a bucket of water for 12 hours, and finally rinsed three times until completely clean. We then dry them under the sun until 14% water content, which is indicated by their pods starting to come off. Then, they are pounded and fanned to completely separate the green coffee beans from their pods. We dry them one more time until reaching 13% water content to prevent fungi if stored in a humid condition. Grading is the final stage to sort out the damaged coffee beans and other foreign material such as sand, pebbles, and small twigs.
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EditDescription:Rudi explains about his coffee to visitors in Medan International Coffee Festival 2016.
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In the past two years (2015 and 2016), Rudi has been participating in international coffee festivals in Medan, North Sumatra where he could promote his signature coffee to the public and coffee consumers. In this event, his coffee earns him high sales numbers. "Since I participated in the international festivals in Medan, the demand for my coffee has been increased​​," he said.

Rudi has coffee shop owners coming from different parts of the country as his regular customers. Besides from Medan, they come from Bandung, Surabaya, and Yogyakarta. He delivers monthly to these customers. According to several of them, they had never seen such clean and good quality coffee beans as Rudi's, especially when they had to procure or purchase the beans directly from farmers. 

"Rudi's coffee is delicious and attracts many fans," said Denny Sihotang, owner of Omerta Store & Cafe in Medan. (Elidon Sitio/September 9, 2016) ​

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