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Field Report: Sumatra Origin Trip 2017

Five Senses CoffeeRichard Austin 4 December 2017

Several weeks ago, two teams embarked on our annual origin trip to our mill based in North Sumatra. The aim for this trip was to visit our mill north of Lake Toba, taking in all the scenes and cultural differences along the way to best understand the unique and challenging Sumatran coffee production cycle.

Based in the picturesque fishing village of Tongging on the northern tip of Lake Toba, the team made day trips to the mill undertaking different activities:

  • Farm visits to Lima Putri, where the team picked cherry for use in a nursery project undertaken several days later.
  • Farm visit to Naga Saribu where we delved into why this small farm produces such great quality coffee! It impressed us so much we previously featured the Naga Saribu as a Limited Release small lot.
  • A nursery rebuild project was completed at the back of the mill. This involved planting out the nursery with the cherry we had picked at Lima Putri and processed days earlier.
  • Watching Tiga Raja Mill in action! Whilst the season was a touch delayed without the usual steady stream of parchment flowing for this time of year the team also managed to witness a small amount of wet hulling, seeing, and participating in the milling of the coffee; parchment drying on patios, raised bed drying, wet hulling, gravity sorting, screen sorting, colour sorting and hand defect picking all experienced.

A lot to cram into just three days!

But as life is all about balance, the tail end of the trip involved a ferry ride to Samosir Island and several days of scooter fun and sightseeing. Stopping in to visit a beautiful small coffee farm we discovered on a previous trip in the regency of Simanindo, the team picked cherry and engaged with the local farmer. With super high altitudes that resit many of the mainland pests and incredible soil thanks so the ancient volcanic action, there’s so much potential on this not-so-small island within an island.

These origin trips are an incredible chance to get up and close with the processing and relationships that make up our coffee supply. As a team we were able to witness the layers of production and difficulties often faced at the producing end of the supply chain. Some of the most enjoyable yet difficult times of these trips is understanding and talking through the hardships faced by the incredible people of Sumatra that supply to our Tiga Raja Mill partnership.

Here’s a small selection of pictures that highlight our adventures, enjoy!

Workers return home from the fields in Simalungun, as the rain clouds roll in #sumo17 #sumotrip #fivesensescoffee

A post shared by Aislinn Cullen (@aislinn.cullen) on

Photo ops like this don’t come around often and must be taken. #chicken #sumo17 #samosir #strikeapose

A post shared by rich austin (@richaustin) on

Waterfall on Samosir Island #waterfall #samosir #coffee #origintrip #fivesenses #takemeback

A post shared by rich austin (@richaustin) on

Local coffee market #sumo17 #sumotrip #fivesensescoffee

A post shared by Aislinn Cullen (@aislinn.cullen) on

Landed at the beautiful Lake Toba enroute to @tigaraja.

A post shared by Ben (@benbicknell) on

Day 2, helping the farmers with their coffee plantation.

A post shared by Jake Frost (@frostygram) on

Work is tough sometimes, this is not one of those times. @5sensescoffee

A post shared by Jeremy (@jhulsdunk) on

@frostygram basking in the coffee plantation

A post shared by Jeremy (@jhulsdunk) on

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