Black Gold of the Sinabung Foothills

A cup of coffee contains its own history, and it begins from the soil. Each coffee bean goes through the long journey of being planted, grown, handpicked and processed by hands unmapped throughout the industry chain.

Ever since the colonial era, coffee beans have been hailed as a prime commodity—yet the lives of people who provided them remain in anonymous silence to this day. The European public, for example, were largely oblivious of how coffee farmers and workers in the Dutch Indies suffered due to Cultuurstelsel, a forced planting system imposed by colonial rulers in the mid-19th century.

Harvesting the red cherries.

In 1830, the then-Dutch government implemented a system in which 20% of village land had to be devoted to export crops, such as coffee, sugarcane, rubber and indigo. Alternatively, peasants had to work in government-owned plantations for 60 days a year. To establish firmer control, the Dutch created networks with local feudal leaders and administrators, allowing them incentives and bonuses from trade.

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