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Sipping Mt. Kelimutu coffee during sunrise in Flores

Intan Tanjung
Intan Tanjung

The Jakarta Post

Flores, East Nusa Tenggara  /  Thu, June 9, 2016  /  06:33 pm
Sipping Mt. Kelimutu coffee during sunrise in Flores

The picturesque Tiwu Nuwamuri Ko’ofai crater lake of Mount Kelimutu. (The Jakarta Post/Intan Tanjung)

Mornings are always crisp on the top of Mount Kelimutu in Flores. As the cool mountain breeze blows, the mist slowly vanishes, revealing the beauty of the surrounding nature and the majestic volcano with its three stunning crater lakes.

Mt. Kelimutu is one of Flores’ best tourist attractions in East Nusa Tenggara. The volcano is famous for its sulfuric lakes: Tiwu Ata Mbupu, Tiwu Nuwamuri Ko’ofai and Tiwu Atapolo, which have different colors that change over time.

Aside from the volcano's mystical and scenic crater lakes, what makes a morning on top of Mt. Kelimutu special is its coffee.  

A glass of Arabica coffee sold on the top of Mount Kelimutu.(The Jakarta Post/Intan Tanjung)

Every day, Salma Sona, who lives in nearby Pemo village, walks up to the top of Mt. Kelimutu as early as 3 a.m. Tourists usually arrive on the mountain top even before dawn, so Salma has to be there earlier. She brings with her a jar of grounded coffee, along with two thermos of hot water, a handful of ginger, instant noodle cups and, oddly enough, several sachets of instant coffee to serve them.

“In Pemo village, coffee trees grow in our yards. What I bring here is the coffee we grow and drink. We process it traditionally and bring some for tourists,” Salma told The Jakarta Post.

(Read also: Exploring Flores heritage of weaving 'tenun ikat')

For every order, Salma will make a perfect cup of coffee to the customer’s preference.

“Sugar?” she asked. “Some tourists don’t like coffee with sugar. And also ginger. But we, Pemo villagers, drink coffee with a tiny bit of ginger. Not too much, just enough to add some strength to the coffee, you know, to make the taste bolder.”

She equally measures coffee and sugar into a small glass, then quickly peel the ginger using the reverse side of a spoon. Finished off by adding the hot water, a sip of this coffee will give you an extra strong kick to start the day.

Flores is one of Indonesia’s best coffee regions that is known for its high quality coffee beans, which have been exported all over the world.

“We have three different types of coffee here in our village,” said Mateus Sino, one of villagers who sells coffee to tourists on the top of Mt. Kelimutu.

(Read also: Coffee guerrillas fighting for the perfect cup)

“The one with the smallest coffee bean is Ara, which tastes similar to Luwak if we don’t toast it with ginger. The second is Deli, which has a nutty flavor,” Mateus said. “For Deli, you must drink it with sugar, otherwise, the coffee will leave a sticky feeling on your tongue.”

“And the third one is Arabica -- the best one, the one we sell here.”

Mateus said almost everyone in his village had coffee trees, which they plant together with cacao and hazelnut trees.

“I have 30 trees in my yard. The harvest time for coffee is in January and August, and every harvest we get around 10 to 15 kilograms from each tree. We sell it to people from Maumere and Ende, whose business is coffee trading, for Rp 7,000 [53 US cents] per kg. It’s cheap, but they're raw beans.”

“If you want to buy the toasted beans, it’s Rp 27,000 per kg. But we mostly sell grounded coffee using a one-glass measurement," he added.

A seller on the top of Mount Kelimutu.(The Jakarta Post/Intan Tanjung)

On the top of Mt. Kelimutu, tourists can buy packages of locally grounded coffee for Rp 10,000 per one glass-measurement.

“We toast the bean ourselves, using wood fire and clay pots. The pot used to toast coffee must be exclusively used for coffee and not for any other cooking. We drop a little bit of ginger into it also. You know, tourists here love coffee with ginger.”

Don’t forget to taste this local coffee if you ever visit Mt. Kelimutu. For one cup of coffee you only have to pay Rp 10,000, and you can bring home locally grounded coffee for the same price as well. Choices of light snacks such as friend banana, fried cassava and boiled eggs are also available as a perfect companion to your coffee. (kes)

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