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Medan Trip Day 1 Part 1

March 15, 2012 Leave a comment

-By John Ryan Ting

It’s is 24 Jan 2012, Romeo Alfen and myself made our way to Singapore Changi Airport to meet up with the rest of the members of the Singapore Coffee Association that are making an origin visit to Medan, Indonesia.

Romeo, who is our Key Accounts Manager, is rewarded with this trip for his top-drawer performance in the recently concluded Singapore National Barista Championship. He bettered his results from previous years by coming in 1st runner up this year after putting in countless of hours of training leading up to the comp.

Our day begun at 0630hrs when we met up with the rest of the group at Starbucks Coffee after checking in at terminal 2, we have along this trip, Mel & Andre from Papa Palheta, Eric Huber & Zack from BonCafe, and of course, Mr Victor Mah, Ibrahim, and Karim who are the facilitators for this origin trip. After some light breakfast and some coffee before we boarded the plane for Medan.

After a flight time of 1 hour 10mins, we reached the airport of Polonia, Medan, where we were greeted by Agam Sulaiman, Managing Director of PT Menacom. (One of the leading producers & exporters of Arabica coffee in Indonesia)

Medan (Indonesian: Kota Medan; pronounced [meˈdan]) is the capital of the North Sumatra province in Indonesia. Located on the northern coast, Medan is the fourth largest city in Indonesia (behind Jakarta, Surabaya, and Bandung), and the largest Indonesian city outside Java. The city is bordered by the Deli Serdang Regency to the east, south and west, and the Strait of Malacca to the north. It is close to the volcano Sinabung, which erupted in August 2010 after a 400 year dormant state.

We travelled in 2 MPVs to their collection centre, where we were given a guided tour of their facilities. We were brought to their storage area of ‘Asalan’ coffee, which means ‘from the source’, coffee at this point have already been pulped, parchments have been removed, dried to a moisture level of 18% before being transported to collection centre in polymer bags and stored in a warehouse like the one you see in this picture before they go through the other processing stages.

 

 

 

 

During the harvest season, coffee collected will be stored in the warehouse and the coffee will be then be laid out on patio to be dried to a further moisture content of about 13%.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The drying process will vary over 1 to 2 days depending on the weather. The coffee will be raked every hour or so to promote even drying on all sides of the coffee.

After which, the coffee will be bagged into 100 kilogram bags and in turn will be sent to the gravity table to await their turn for sorting.

They will be sorted for their bean mass as well as bean size. Further to that, the coffee will be sent for another round of hand-sorting or more depending on any client’s specific order or instructions.

At the hand-sorting room, PT Menacom hires about 400 workers to go through the hand-sorting process of the coffee before they are sent to another room to be prepared for bagging and packing into containers for shipment of the coffee beans.

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the hand-sorting room, the ladies are given tubs & tubs of green coffee to be sorted. Each day, every one of them will be able to sort through 4kg of coffee that can be bagged for shipment. Certain times, the buyers would request for the coffee to be double-picked or triple-picked to ensure higher consistency and quality of the coffee.

Here you see Eric of BonCafe giving a hand at the sorting table, and trust me, we do know how tough this is.

After the coffee is sorted, they are all sent to the packing room, all the coffee are placed on a wooden platform, about 6 workers gather to pack the coffee into 69kg jute bags. Every 3 workers work at a single station to weigh & to pack them into the bags.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After that, the coffee will be sealed and prepared for shipment.

 

 

After bags of coffee have been sealed, they are being maunally carried and stocked in containers that are waiting to be shipped to the buyers. (noticed the interior of the containers, yellow pouches of dehumidifier and the whole container is lined with cardboard paper to shade the coffee from any heat transfer from the container to the coffee)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These basically summarize the function as well as the operations of this collection centre. The amount of work these guys and gals go to just to ship out containers of coffee for all of us to enjoy. I had a go at doing some the works these people go through, and within a few cycle, I was feeling the strain of the manual labour of bagging the coffee, and I decided to pass on the job to these experts. (You know what? That is not all that the processes is about, there is a huge part of the processing that happening even before this stage, and I eagerly awaits the visit to the plantations, milling, drying, hulling that is all due tomorrow. Guess I will be losing sleep tonight.)

We proceed for a cupping session at PT Menacom’s Headquarters after viewing this wonderful coffee collection centre.

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