The Roasterie Adventures to Indonesia In Search of the World’s Best Coffee

At The Roasterie, we are constantly searching for the best beans in the world to produce the world’s best coffee. This leads us on some amazing adventures to places exotic, beautiful and off the beaten path. Of course, this is no problem for any Roasterie Bean Hunter as long as the adventure leads to great coffee.

Our latest trip to Indonesia is an especially exciting one for The Roasterie. It’s the first trip for our new Bean Hunter Jon Ferguson as a part of The Roasterie team, but it’s also his first trip to Asia. Follow him and Bean Baron Danny O’Neill as they travel through Indonesia to bring back the best beans the region has to offer – and see it all from Jon’s perspective:

Medan, Indonesia

I left bright and early at 5:30AM on Friday from Lincoln, Nebraska after spending a great Thanksgiving dinner with my family, driving straight to the Kansas City airport to catch a flight with Danny O’Neill to Medan, Indonesia. The thought of spending the next 30 hours traveling through airports around the world was a bit daunting, but overall I was very excited to spend a week in Sumatra and Vietnam to observe traditional (and some non-traditional) coffee processing practices (more on this later).

Landing in Medan was a fresh sight for me. I’ve travelled extensively, but never in Asia. The first noticeable difference was the sighting of traditional fishing boats, and the vast amount of rusted rooftops and thin boating channels in the rural areas surrounding Medan. After stepping off the plane, I was hit with by heavy, wet and warm air. However, I was pleasantly surprised to not smell the scent of burning trash or diesel, which I’ve come to typically encounter when traveling abroad to coffee producing countries. Perhaps it was just the time of day, or that is was early morning on a Sunday, but I was surprised by this lack of polluted feeling after reading up on Medan as being one of the worst cities in the world to visit. On the other hand, Medan isn’t a destination spot, and has never claimed to be. It is a well-known point of entry to northern Sumatra and used as a major port for exporting coffee.

The first thought that came to me is how the weather and environmental conditions reflects attributes of the coffee; wet, lush, warm, earthy, thick. It makes sense that a place like this produces coffee in such fashion.

Starting in Medan, we will be heading north to visit the Koperasi Kopi Gayo Organik producers and Irham’s well-hulling facility and coffee plantation near Takengon, a town located in the Aceh province near Lake Laut Tawar. We’ll have the honor of meeting with the co-op members and staff, and having dinner with several of the PT IKA’s farmers. Upon our return to Medan, we hope to cup several coffees and visit the Yudi Putra warehouse before heading off to Vietnam.

This evening Danny and I met Mr. Syafrudin, Director of Sabani International, a coffee company based out of Jakarta.  He took us out to dinner at a fantastic and very accessible restaurant where fish was (unsurprisingly) the main entree. We were greeted by our host who guided us to the boat filled with ice where there was a selection of raw fish and shellfish. Next to this were several trays of prepared raw vegetable dishes that were to be selected and then cooked. Everything was prepared fresh after we picked which combinations we liked.

The dinner was also attended by Ina and her brother Andi, both who work for their father Mr. Irham, who runs the Jagong mill near Lake Tawar in the northern Aceh province.  Ina and her brother were very welcoming and we were able to practice a few phrases of Bahasa, one the most common Indonesian languages (Indonesia has approximately 380 languages with 17,888 islands).

Next up… our flight from Medan to Takengon.


Jon Ferguson