As part of our recent coffee discovery trip to Sumatra, the Dimattina Coffee crew were very fortunate to be able to spend a few days at Wahana Estate – which is located in the village of Lae Mungkur, Sidikalang North Sumatra. The drive to the estate from Medan (the capital of North Sumatra) is about 180km, however Indonesian roads and traffic makes this a long 5 hour journey. Luckily Indonesian drivers are fearless, and their ability to pass on tight corners, would do most Formula 1 drivers proud. That, and the fact that road rage doesn’t exist in Sumatra, made our journey memorable. The estate is located at an altitude of 1,300-1,500 metres and covers about 500 hectares. About 250 hectares of the estate is used for coffee plantations, 30 hectares for a coffee nursery, and around 10 hectares for the coffee processing facilities.
The estate employs around 2000 workers – which makes it the biggest employer in the district. The estate also tries to foster good relationships with other local growers. These farmers typically have small plots of land – with local coffee collectors acting as the middleman -from which the Estate then purchases green beans for wet mill processing. The Estate has planted several varieties of coffee trees including Rasuna and Longberry, and is also experimenting with new varieties in the nursery. It is visibly clear that the Estates farming practices are better than the local community with cultivated shade trees resulting in less evidence of CBB (coffee berry borers) – which has increased in Indonesia in recent years and higher yields. Although the picking season hadn’t started – it commences in two weeks – there was still plenty of activity at the mill.
The estate is also continuing to develop, with plans for a roasting facility and coffee school. The Wahana coffees produced are micro-lots. A cupping session at the Estates’s corporate offices in Medan (Sarimakmur HQ) highlighted some great coffee. Our favourite was a Rasuna honey processed (or pulp-natural) coffee. This has nothing to do with bees and honey, but it is a method where the fruit is taken off the bean and the mucilage (thin outer layer) is left on. The beans are then laid out to dry and the mucilage gets super sticky with natural fruity sweetness – therefore the reference to honey. These honey coffees have become very highly sort after, particularly with Japanese buyers, as they are sweet with a good body. We have brought samples to Perth, as well as some of the other coffees we cupped from Wahana, and will hold our own cupping session for customers in Osborne Park. We will also have some of these Wahana Estate coffees for sale in coming months.