Kopi Robusta Pupuan Semakin Melanglang Dunia
PUTU JULI SASTRAWAN
Bali is slowly becoming famous not just for its tourism, but also for its Fine Robusta. Indeed, these past few years, Fine Robusta from Pupuan is experiencing increase in sales and quality. Currently, Pupuan owns nearly 10,000 ha for Fine Robusta coffee and 80% of this produces 6,101.61 tons of coffee per year. If these numbers continue to increase, it is not impossible that Pupuan’s Fine Robusta will be slowly known to the world.
According to Wayan Dira as Chair of the MPIG (Society for the Protection of Geographical Indications) Robusta Coffee Pupuan Bali, way before Pupuan is known for Fine Robusta, many older folks and past generations have farmed Robusta for decades, even though it’s not processed as specialty beans. For so many generations, the majority (currently 80%) of people in Pupuan depend on Robusta because that is the dominant commodity. It’s a huge percentage. But why do we suddenly hear about the switch to Fine Robusta coffee? It’s the classic cause that changes the maneuver of any commodity: funds and increase in demand.
Robusta is a common consumption then and now, but Fine Robusta is a fairly new thing. Without this significant demand for Fine Robusta, farmers do not have the incentive to invest their time in processing Fine Robusta and maintaining the quality of coffee plants, which is neither easy nor cheap. Hence, despite years of farming Robusta, many people have not heard and seen Pupuan coffee as quality coffee that can compete globally.
However, around a decade ago, the world specialty market began to rise. And Robusta coffee, with all of its hidden potentials, are taking people’s attention. The MPIG certificate (Society for Geographical Indication Protection) is given in Pupuan sub-district in 2017, which means that Pupuan farmers and coffee sellers now have legitimate proofs that their coffee do come from Pupuan, not other regions.
Government’s funds to modernize the processing enters the villages. What would be the results had Robusta is planted more carefully and processed more delicatedly? That was the challenge for Pupuan Village, including Pak Diar, who then conducted a comparative study with PUSLIT Jember, to learn more about processing for Robusta.
In terms of processing, turning Robusta into Fine Robusta does demand greater funding, time, and energy. You can use the regular Robusta beans, but by processing it in a more detailed way, resembling Arabica, you can get far more complex flavor profiles with distinctive fruity and malt flavor. This means, performing the standard processing steps such as washing, pulping, hulling, fermenting, and drying.
To maintain the quality, especially when processing a large batch, several more modern machines are needed, such as a pulper and huller machines. Mr. Dira himself built a 200 m 2 greenhouse as a place to dry 2.5 to 3 tons of coffee. At an altitude of 700-1000 masl, colder temperature means coffee dries longer. On the other hand, Robusta generally enjoys growing at lower altitudes, and maybe that’s one of the reasons why Pupuan’s Robusta taste better. “One of the factors that makes Fine Robusta has more complex flavors is the natural factors. Robusta coffee in Pupuan grows from 700 to 1000 masl. The higher the sea level, the better the results,” said Pak Dira.
Similar to Arabica, Robusta can also be processed honey, natural and fully wash. If we’re willing to experiment with different types of processing, then we’ll understand that flavors are closely related to the processing types. “I like experimenting with various types of processing. For instance, we can make Papua flavor profile by processing other origin beans in a specific way. Processing is a lot of fun only if you want to jump in and immerse yourself in it.”
In terms of taste, no need to doubt. Pupuan’s Robusta has a distinctive chocolate-like taste and aroma. Enjoy it in the morning or evening, it’s still just as great. “This Robusta Fine Coffee Pupuan is indeed very special. If you prefer, our Fine Robusta is also good if mixed with any Arabica. Maybe because it grows on a higher attitude,” said Pak Dira.
Now, their hard works are getting results. Pupuan Fine Robusta is now getting traction, both nationally and internationally. Not to forget, Pupuan’s Robusta has also won 3 times on the national level and 2 times on the international level. Mr. Dira himself claims that he sells 2-3 tons of green beans per month. For now, his customers are mostly from Taiwan and Italy, and for the domestic market, Jakarta still dominates.
Now that we’re seeing more possibilities we can do with Robusta, it would be a pity if this effort isn’t continued by the younger generation. To Mr. Dira, he runs the Robusta business because he sees great potentials in it and it becomes his own pride if Pupuan’s Robusta is more widely known. “I am pleased to see many farmers’ children taking on modern farming. In my opinion, we should involve young people more often in the farm, invite them to sit together about the prospect or the future as coffee farmers.” For farmers at Pupuan, farming coffee goes beyond an occupation. Coffee farming is a pride. Introducing Bali now shouldn’t be just about culture and tourism, but also through coffee. Now, it’s time to see Bali from a different perspective.
PUTU JULI SASTRAWAN is currently taking a Master’s degree for Linguistic and Literature Studies at Udayana University. He writes a collection of short stories and is the catalogue editor at Minikino Film Week 4; International Short Films Festival (2018).