Near Lake Toba, in the North West of Sumatra former pastor Samuel Sihombing is leading a new specialty coffee movement on the island of Sumatra. His mission is straightforward: to make Sidikalang Coffee Famous so that it has its own identity, as famous as Sumatra coffee.
In order to access speciality markets, Samuel has created an organisation called MASPIGASS (Masyarakat Perlindungan Indikasi Geografis Arabica Sidikalang Sumatra), which means Sumatra Sidikalang Arabica Coffee Geographical Indication Protection Society (yes, the name is a bit long!). Through this organisation, an active coffee farmers group is developing in the Sidikalang region.
Coffee is planted as ‘’traditional farming’’ which references little shade cover compared to Latin American farms. Besides coffee production, there are many citrus plantations in the area. Although the local prices for parchment coffee are easily 2.5 times higher than the world market price, orange farming is still seen as a more profitable activity by some farmers.
Batak culture is strongly matriarchal, where women play an important role in managing business. Samuel’s wife works with cacao and produces delicious artisan chocolate bars. Poda co-operative has created a women’s group where each woman receives 500 seedlings as a loan to encourage more women to become involved in coffee production.