West Sumatran Coffee: A Dark Past and a New Beginning

For travelers and coffee lovers, tasting local coffee would definitely be on the “To Do” list. So for those traveling to West Sumatra, you should not miss out on local coffee and the coffee shops that offer the best quality beans. Here, in this post, I will share names of a number of coffee venues to visit.

Coffee is known to perk you up and put a smile on your face. But if you think about coffee in West Sumatra, I mean really think about it, you realize that coffee in this region has a dark past that won’t make you smile.

 

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Enjoying coffee and fried tofu at the Sage II Vacation Home, Sawahlunto

 

Looking Back

The golden coffee age in West Sumatra was during the Dutch occupation where plantations were established in the inlands, such as Bukittinggi. But for the Indonesian people, especially during the 1840s, coffee plantations meant forced labor and coolies.

However, the coffee trade created a lot of changes in West Sumatra. When adat leaders turned to the Dutch during the Padri War, the Dutch took this opportunity to build infrastructure, schools, and coffee warehouses—training the Minangkabau locals to assist coffee businesses.

In fact, there was one famous—shall we say—coffee tycoon, noted in history, that is, Kota Gadang native, Abdul Gani Rajo Mangkuto (1817–1907). He became so successful that he even got to travel to the Netherlands. Nevertheless, continued tax disputes between the Minangkabau people and colonialists, among other things, affected the coffee business in the inlands.

Furthermore, local people were also recruited into administrative positions in the local government. A new class of Dutch-speaking locals, civil servants, and intellectuals emerged, which ultimately gave way to resistance against the Dutch and Indonesia’s independence!

But way before that, in the 1870s, coffee production was no longer profitable and was replaced by other crops, such as copra and tobacco. To make a long story short, the coffee golden age ultimately ended. Coffee was then grown in people’s gardens. People usually drink coffee made from coffee leaves rather than beans.

Visit These Coffee Venues

But luckily today, we can find fresh West Sumatran coffee beans at local markets and coffee shops.  After a decline in the popularity of the local coffee beans, things are looking bright as you can now find a variety of local beans—spicy and fruity—in a various places, such as in Padang and Bukittinggi. One example is at the Rimbun Espresso and Brew Bar in Padang and Bukittinggi (also home to the historical Jam Gadang tower clock).  And just to name a few other coffee venues in Padang, they are: Kubik Koffie, Lalito Coffee & Bar, M.O. Resto & Coffee, and Konco Coffee, and in Buktitinggi we have the Apache and Café Bedudal.

Meanwhile, in Sawahlunto there is a local brand coffee sold at Warung Kopi Datuk Silungkang Coffee. The makers have been producing local Robusta coffee traditionally since 1992.

And let’s not forget the Solok Coffee trend in 2014 which marked the emergence of a new era of coffee-making in West Sumatra. Under the Solok Radjo cooperative (which members include coffee traders), coffee producers from five villages in Solok District created the Solok Coffee specialty which has a hint of lemon taste. The coffee gradually hit the local market, including the big cities such as Jakarta, and it is now an export commodity. This has certainly put West Sumatran coffee back in the spotlight.

Enjoy West Sumatra, enjoy its coffee!

 

Sources:

Minangkayo (2015) Cerita Kopi di Minang http://minangkayo.com/index.php/2015/12/04/cerita-kopi-di-minang/ (accessed 13 January 2017).

Minangkayo (2015) Kopi Sumatra Barat Dan Ceritanya http://minangkayo.com/index.php/2015/11/04/kopi-sumatra-barat-dan-ceritanya/ (accessed 13 January 2017).

Otonomi (2016) Perjalanan Kopi Minang Solok Menuju Kualitas Teratas di Indonesia https://www.otonomi.co.id/komoditas/perjalanan-kopi-minang-solok-menuju-kualitas-teratas-di-indonesia-160926t.html (accessed 14 January 2017).

Republika Online (2016) Menikmati Kopi Khas Sawahlunto, Datuk Siloengkang Coffee http://www.republika.co.id/berita/gaya-hidup/kuliner/16/01/21/o1au7g328-menikmati-kopi-khas-sawahlunto-datuk-siloengkang-coffee (accessed 14 January 2017).

Visit the Sage II Vacation Home in Sawahlunto
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