Last year SOTG supposed to visit a coffee plantation in Ijen but the place closed just when I finished a 70km trail running race later in the afternoon. So when came across that MesaStila, a luxury resort in Magelang exist on a coffee plantation, SOTG was overjoyed. Not a heavy coffee drinker, but I value highly good quality coffee beans that produce amazing aroma and unique taste – thanks to many good years of living down-under for its advanced coffee culture.
The coffee plantation tour is complimentary for guest. Organised by Lily after a complimentary traditional jamu (herbal tonic) serving and yoga class, it’s a must do during the stay at MesaStila. Two other couples turned up made a lovely small bunch of eager coffee learners.
Here are some notes:
- The Dutch via Netherland East India (VOC) brought the coffee seedlings to be planted on Java island after coffee became a valuable and very profitable trade commodity in the 17th. The initial phase was grown in West Java followed by Central Java. Today, Indonesia is one of largest coffee bean producer in the world.
- At MesaStila, half of 22 hectares land is used for coffee plantation. There are 4 types of coffee grown on the property; Java, Exelsa, Arabica, and Robusta. Robusta is the main species grown given it thrives at lower elevations of less than 1000m. Generally known for higher caffeine content, bitterer and less acidic than more popular high-quality Arabica species.
- Coffee plants can live up to 100 years. Lily confirmed that the original plants from the 19th century planted during Dutch colonial were dead. Existing plants being inherited from the period of the second owner of the property, Indonesian HOS Tjokroaminoto.
- At the time of visit in early October, coffee plants were blossoming with white flowers. The flowers produced a scent that reminded me of New Zealand jasmine. How could sweet smell like this give life to bitter beans?
- Lily explained the difference between leaves of the plants’ species. Robusta with curvy on the side and Arabica usually with skinny small leave.
- Young green beans ripen into red berries. She squeezed out the semi-ripe berries to show the beans inside. There are two beans inside a berry usually and covered by inner sticky skin.
- According to Lily, the harvest period came slight earlier this year. During harvest time (July-September), around 20 staffs work on the plantation, otherwise only 5.
- Beans are dried under the sun between 7 to 10 days depending on the weather. Once dried, the inner skins are removed by machine. Next up is roasting followed by grinding.
- Around 8 tonnes ripe berries yield 2 tonnes of dry beans. The beans only sold in MesaStila gift shop and can be consumed in the coffee shed at the end of the tour – enjoyed the coffee drink and sampled the raw bitter bean toned down perfectly with palm sugar (oh delicious!) and locally grown bananas.
Overall, very informative tour and it’s important for coffee drinker to understand the process involved in a cup of coffee. Given how laborious the process was, made me more conscious not just about the type of beans, or how coffee is roasted/brewed for final consumption but if the beans being fairly traded with farmers before reaching consumers.
Check out MesaStila’s website as it offers villa package during harvesting season of July to September – worth staying around this time to experience the coffee aroma throughout the property.
Have you been to any plantation tour?
Till the next plantation visit – coffee, cocoa, pepper; bring it on!
Live To Thrive,