Flores Indonesia is a beautiful mountainous land. Vast area of the island feels more like a desert, empty and dry. However in Ngada regency approximately 1,100m above sea level, the air is cool and temperature doesn’t make you sweat.
This organically grown passion fruit is to die for. Sweet!
It took us quite sometime to drive up to the peak of plantation area from Pak Freddy’s office, which is the head of the village here. When we reached the top, the temperature changed a little cooler, and we looked down and there were all the coffee trees in the mist. The trees were in great shape and coffee cherries were abundant. The coffee trees were grown on a very steep slope. It needs a lot of effort to get the coffee cherries down to farmers’ house for processing.
Driving around to another village, we saw some farmers and joined them. The picking was looking impressive. Farmers are obedient to their leader as they are diligent to picking only red cherries.
Learning how to pick only ripe cherries from the expert.
Those sweet cherries are lovely to look at!
The cherries were then carried back to the villagers’ home. Some rent the pulping machine and some have their own. The pulping of the cherries is done using a pulping machine as you can see from the photo.
The cherries are brought to the pulping machine, on the left are the cherries skins and on the right are coffee seeds with mucilage intact.
Wet processing refers to various methods where the seeds are mechanically separated from the skin of the fresh fruit before drying and may or may not include a fermentation step. Fermentation in coffee refers to the microbial reaction of yeasts and bacteria breaking down the sugars in mucilage. This process produces acids, which will later add complexity and depth to a coffee. This reaction has been studied and developed in coffee-growing regions everywhere, and a great care is taken to understand and master this process.
After pulping the seeds out from cherries, it will be packed into gunny bags for fermentation. Typically, farmers will store them under shaded space for 36 hours. A common practise with this level of fermentation is to allow the mucilage to coat the seeds after they are pulped. This is called ‘dry fermentation’ where the mass of mucilage and parchments are not covered with water. With this process we will clearly be able to taste inherent qualities of the coffee itself.
Villagers use fresh clean water sourced from the foothill of the mountain for washing process. At this stage, only dense and ripe seeds will stay at the bottom of the basins and whatever floats will be removed.
The man washing his coffee and removing defects floating in the basin.
Drying on raised beds.
The washed coffee seeds will then be placed on meshed wires ready for drying process. Villagers constructed the waist height raised beds from bamboo and screened mesh for ease of use. These materials are particularly practical to small or remote farms because they are inexpensive and easy to transport. The use of screen promotes uniformity in drying the coffee as it allows fresh air to easily flow from beneath and above the coffee. The drying beans are frequently ‘stirred’ about in the raised bed using hands. This process typically takes up to 7 days for the moisture to come down to 12% from approximately 60% after washing.
Chilling with the farmers and taking down notes.
The dried coffee parchment will be kept in storage. Upon order, these parchments will go through hulling and milling to remove the parchment from the seeds. This coffee plantation doesn’t promote the use of any artificial fertilizers or chemicals. Hence, the dried cherry skins would be burnt and used as natural fertilizer.
During our trip, we encountered plenty of banana, corn, passion fruits, avocado, tobacco trees, pineapple, jackfruits and cinnamon trees. These trees are planted for own consumption but anything extra will be sold in a local market at the town centre.
It has been an eye opener and amazing trip for us. We will definitely come back to this blessed land next year!
- Altitude 1300-1900 metres.
- Harvest season from May to October.
- Varietals: Flores S-795, Typica, Catimor, Timor hybrids.
- Preparation: Wet process dry hulling. Removes the outer skin of red cherries by pulping machine. The mucilage covered parchment is then put into fermentation gunny for 36 hours. After washing, parchment is sun-dried on raised tables to 12% moisture.