It’s hard to believe that it’s almost been a whole year since my last trip to Sumatra. There are many things to report to the guys here regarding the success of the first lot of Sumatran coffee purchased from Simalungun. Currently the mill and collection facility is taking in about a quarter of the usual volume of parchment coffee. It’s almost the end of the dry season here, but this coming October will see the mill hit full production as the season changes and the bulk of the coffee cherries ripen.

There is much to do and see. Over the coming days, I will meet with 120 local co-operative representatives. This will be a good opportunity to thank them for the quality of last season’s harvest and emphasise the important role they each play in the coffee cycle. I will also be visiting all the sub-regions in Simalungun by travelling on board the parchment collection truck, a process which will take several days. Having these processes described to me by others is one thing, but being physically involved in each step will be an amazing first-hand experience.

Later in the week, once we’re back in Medan, I will also have the opportunity to cup small lots collected from the various sub-regions.

I’m fortunate to have Leo and Lisa showing me around again. Leo is the Simalungun coffee project manager. His dreams and aspirations for the coffee which comes from Simalungun are both ethical and sustainable. The work and structure which are necessary for building a successful supply chain — especially in Sumatra — are complex and full of politics, as well as requiring plenty of hard work. I think the cup quality and consistency of our Simalungun offering is evidence that the work being done really is making a difference. I’m looking forward to seeing this firsthand over the next week as I bump around the rough local roads of Simalungun.

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