GAYO ARABICA HISTORY
The Gayo highlands of central Aceh is a scenic, pine studded mountainous region. It is a cool area situated on one part of the Bukit Barisan mountain range, which stretches across the island of Sumatra. It lies on the altitude of 900 – 1700 above sea level with rainfall rate at around 1,643 – 2,000 mm/year which is considered highly favorable for coffee plantations. The town of Takengon sits at the base of a beautiful lake, Danau Tawar (Lake Tawar) with towering mountains all around. This is the home of the Gayo people, an ethnic group with their own language and a strong music and dance culture.
The Dutch introduced coffee to the region and managed coffee estates professionally around 1904. In 1933, some 13,000 hectares had already been planted, with coffee being Holland’s prized commodity and shipped back to Europe.
Apart from the superior varieties, the organic method of Gayo coffee planting also makes this commodity a target for world coffee exporters, resulting in its high price. Almost 80 percent of coffee growers in Central Aceh maintain organic plantations.
Lush expanses of predominantly small holding coffee plantations in the highlands are located in three regencies: Central Aceh, Bener Meriah and Gayo Lues, totalling 96.000 hectares and comprising of 66.000 farmers. It is the largest Arabica coffee producing region in the country. Coffee has become the center of Gayo economy and contributes around 70-90% of family income. Currently, Gayo Highland is one of the most important areas for Indonesia’s Arabica Coffee.
In 2017, for the first time a product from Indonesia, Gayo Arabica obtained the Protected Geographical Indications (PGI) status from the European Union (EU). This special status means the product will benefit from the same protection and market added-value compared to EU protected products. To be awarded the PGI status, a product must be traditionally and – at least – partially manufactured (prepared, processed or produced) within the specific region and thus contain unique properties.