The Jakarta Post
Lembah Colol hamlet offers quite a view thanks to its picturesque coffee farms. (JP/Markus Makur)
A festival that seeks to make Colol coffee go global was held on Thursday in Poco Ranaka, East Manggarai, Flores, East Nusa Tenggara (NTT).
Thousands of East Manggarai people were seen flocking to the venue located in the center of Colol village.
Flores musician Ivan Nestorman who performed at the festival, initiated by Tim Taman Baca Colol (Colol Reading Garden Team), said that Colol coffee used to be a top product of NTT.
"Hopefully we can all promote Colol coffee as a globally recognized single-origin coffee. I encouraged the farmers in Colol and East Manggarai to continue planting this coffee and preserve it as their ancestors' heritage," he said.
Ivan explained that the locals of NTT learned to grow coffee and cultivate it thanks to Colol village, the first coffee plantation hub in Flores since the Dutch entered the region.
"As a musician, I continue to promote the uniqueness and delightful taste of Colol coffee through my songs. This is [actually] the first festival for Colol coffee," he added.
According to Kompas journalist Frans Sarong, who had written about the history of Colol coffee, the seeds were first brought from the Netherlands during the era of Dutch occupation. The Dutch later held a competition on coffee planting across Flores, which was won by a Colol village farmer named Bernadus Ojong. As the prize, the Dutch government gave Bernadus a Dutch national flag kept inside a special chest. The flag is showcased to the public during annual coffee rituals in the village.
Flores musician Ivan Nestorman performs at a festival for Colol coffee in Colol village, East Manggarai Timur, Flores, East Nusa Tenggara, on June 28. (JP/Markus Makur)
"The history of Colol coffee and the Dutch national flag have been published in Kompas daily as well as a book titled Serpihan Budaya NTT [NTT Cultural Remnants]. Thus, the pioneer of coffee planting in NTT was Colol village," said Frans.
Frans explained that the Dutch national flag was rarely shown to the public. The Dutch Embassy in Jakarta is said to have paid a visit to Colol village to meet with the family of the late Bernadus Ojong, after reading the Kompas article. However, the family refused to let them see the flag since Bernadus had left a message that forbade anyone from seeing the sacred item, apart from during the annual cultural ritual.
Several years ago, the administration of East Manggarai regency participated in an Indonesian coffee festival in Banyuwangi, East Java, in which Colol coffee won first place in a competition. Kompas daily itself held a Flores coffee festival at the Bentara Budaya Jakarta cultural center a few years back.
"Colol coffee should be exported abroad since its production and land are more vast compared to Ngada regency, which already has its arabica coffee sold globally," said Frans. (kes)
Paragraph three in this article has been corrected. It previously mentioned Flores musician Ivan Nestorman as the initiator of the festival.