Choose Red: Story of a Red Bracelet from Pangalengan
Text: EKO PURNOMOWIDI
Illustration: HANDOKO HENDROYONO
After the 2009 Pangalengan earthquake, environmentalists and volunteers from
Bandung worked hand in hand with local citizens, who were coffee farmers, helping
those who were injured.
Entering the “trauma healing” period, it turned out that the urgency for local citizens was to retain their normal life with normal income. Coincidentally, coffee was entering the harvest period, which means that coffee will help farmers coping with their trauma. Farmers were excited about this. They began to see hopes when they discovered that the coffee fruits and beans weren’t destroyed by the earthquakes.
After short visits in villages around Pangalengan, Kertasari, Cidaun, Ponselingan and Panawuan, we found that most coffee farmers in Sunda thought coffee was like a banana. They assumed that if the green ones were picked, they will ripe in a few days. Among them were Pa Jajang and Pa Rukman. I slowly argued,
Coffee is a fruit, but not like a banana. Coffee only ripes on the tree, when the color turns red.
This explanation was not enough. Farmers need to learn it hands on. Mere verbal information won’t give them enough understanding.
So we went to the coffee garden, and started harvesting. While harvesting we shared some knowledge:
1. Coffee fruit is different than a banana.
2. If greens are picked, it’s possible that the lower stem of the fruit is wounded. The wound must be healed first before flowering again; meaning that next year there might not be any harvest. (Harvest into every 2 years).
3. The weight of the red beans is heavier than the green beans.
4. Green seeds are difficult to grind because they are still hard.
We kept on sharing so that the farmers understand. Language has become the main obstacle since Sundanese farmers were not accustomed to Indonesian. Lucky me and Deni Glen, we are both native Sundanese so the language barrier for us was not that great.
But apparently, some of the farmers couldn’t read. So we had to do a color test. The result showed that almost no one was color blind. The red bracelet was the perfect choice.
The red color of the bracelet is the same as the color of a ripe coffee fruit, making it easier to pick the right fruits.
The writing “Pick Red” in the bracelet eventually encouraged some farmers to learn writing and reading.
At that time, we intended to make only 2000 bracelets. But after a while, assuming one family has 2 children, then there are 4 people in the family who help with harvesting. So we decided to make 10,000 bracelets in 2015.
In the next stage, we invited farmers to do a test taste or blind cup.
Coffee A = young / green.
Coffee B = cooked / red
Coffee C = rotten / red black
After this training, farmers have been gaining more confidence on picking the right ripe fruits.
Farmers understand through their eyes and hands. So they need to practice hands on.
Pa Jajang and Pa Rukman remain to be the farmers of Sunda Hejo until now.
EKO PURNOMOWIDI adalah petani, penggerak, pengajar, aktivis, dan pencinta kopi. Ia juga adalah pendiri sekolah alam & kopi Klasik Beans di Garut, Jawa Barat dan aktif membimbing berbagai komunitas kopi dari Sumatera hingga Flores.
HANDOKO HENDROYONO sudah berkarya dalam industri kreatif dalam branding, content creator, storyteller, visual artist hingga penulis dengan empat buku yang sudah rilis.