I love coffee, not just drinking it, but everything about it from hunting for the best coffee shop, trying different brewing methods, different varieties, and learning about the coffee’s journey from farm to cup. On my second trip to Sumatra I wanted to dig deep into what makes this world-famous coffee so special. I was at Lake Toba for a few days previously and found some good coffee, even had a tour of robusta coffee farms at the top of Samosir island but I knew there was more to the story. I asked around and combed the internet but came up with little to no information, even though Lake Toba is surrounded by three renowned coffee growing regions: Mandheling, Lintong, and Sidikalang.
Sidikalang is close to Samosir Island where I was staying so I narrowed down my search to this area. I still couldn’t find anything about coffee tours but I thought if I could at least find a place to stay there and just go, maybe I could make my own tour. I was perusing AirBnB listings and came across Aroma of Coffee farm at Sidikalang that offered accommodation, farm tours, cupping(coffee tasting), the whole nine yards. It was a coffee miracle! I was an AirBnB virgin as this point but after some back and forth with Samuel who operates this homestay, I arranged the booking for me and my two Finn friends Maria and Jani. They were also long stayers at Lake Toba and agreed a Sumatra coffee tour was an interesting idea. Samuel wasn’t going to be there on the first day for the coffee farm tour but assured us his friend could take us around. I booked the AirBnB for a couple of nights and we were in.
|North end of Lake Toba|
|Big news in Sidikalang|
We ventured out of town a few kilometers until we reached the Seenaga coffee farm. This is the exact farm where the wonderful coffee we drank the evening before was from and I was anxious to see how they grew it so well. The couple who ran the farm were super nice and you could see they were making the most of their one hectare farm. Two things I noticed were how rich the volcanic soil looked and how cool it was among their coffee trees because they had loads of taller, shade trees planted. They had various fruits and vegetables planted among the rows including a whole lot of chili peppers. It was amazing how the coffee cherries were weighing down the branches, it looks like a bountiful harvest coming. We tried some of the coffee cherries, they were sweet and surprisingly tasty. I love the Seenaga farm.
|pregnant papaya tree|
|Loaded with coffee cherries|
Next up we went to another farm close by that was also part of the coffee co-operative Samuel helped set up. The technique and terrain was a little different on this farm with not as many shade trees, though it still looked like a great crop coming. The farmer gifted us some tasty avocados.
We headed back to Sidikalang and dropped off our student ambassadors back at school, all of us really happy they had come along. Then it was off to lunch at Samuel’s Poda cafe. Besides the great coffee, the food is excellent too.
For the afternoon tour, we headed to a large pineapple farm. It was about 2 or 3 hectares of pineapple, with some towering durian trees mixed in. We ordered a cut up pineapple which is served with a mix of salt and chili, a tangy twist for us Westerners. We also found it interesting that is a popular place for local young people to come on dates.
|Romance in the air|
|Aha, the perfect pineapple!|
For our final stop, we went to another school, this time a village kindergarten. The kids were really cute, even singing us a few songs. We were given a sample of the local durian fruit which most people either love or hate. I do enjoy it from time to time, my friends Maria and Jani maybe not so much this first time?
|Impromptu school concert|
|Bravely tasting durian for the 1st time|
For the full photo album. click here.
Sleeping: Stayed at the Aroma of Coffee home-stay as listed on AirBnB. If you haven’t already, for goodness sake, sign up on AirBnB for unique experiences like this. You can use my link and we will both get some savings. Anyway back to Aroma, it is a big house that has 4 bedrooms all with ensuite. It is a few kms outside of Sidakalang in the midst of coffee, fruit and vegetable farms. Samuel and friends took care of getting us around.
Info on Poda Coffee: Visit the Poda website- www.sidikalangpodacoffee.com
Eating/Coffee: We had our meals at Poda Coffee and Resto, Samuels café in Sidikalang center. Really good food and coffee at reasonable prices.
Getting there: From Parapat on Lake Toba we booked a private car for 650,000 rupiah. This included a stop at the gorgeous Si Piso Piso waterfall. Our driver Plemon was not so happy to hear about this added stop but he soon got over it and gave us a good journey. Another option from Lake Toba is to make your way via local buses which is very cheap but also cramped and no chance to stop at the waterfall.