This is certainly our most controversial project to date. Having studied the successes of specialty robusta in India and Ecuador, we thought of the idea of upgrading the existing, low growing robusta on the island of Flores where our dear partner Nina van Toulon works to help coffee growers take better care of their natural habitats. Through Adri Yahdiyan, founder of Ontosoroh Coffees, we learned that not only does the island boast a range of unique robusta varieties, but that the quality of these "fine robustas" was already known worldwide. He then introduced us to ASNIKOM, a locally owned cooperative in the regency of Manggarai who could do something as radical as intuitive: process robusta with the same machinery and standards as arabica - and we vowed to pay them the same premium as they would get for fine arabicas. In 2017, the first results came in: a spicy, very full bodied robusta that is pleasantly bitter because of its caffeine content, sweet chocolaty and very clean.
This year's crop was sourced from three families within a single village of Rende Nao as opposed to multi sources (within Manggarai) last year. We also tweaked the pulped natural and did some semi-washed and fully washed experiments to highlight body and the crisp chocolaty overtones. For the unbiased roaster, this coffee could either be a wacky single origin or a beautiful supplement to blends that provide the flavour that traditional coffee drinkers sometimes miss so clearly (and vocally) in our specialty coffee niche...
Unique robusta varieties derived from uncontrolled cross-pollination
900 - 1,200 meters above sea level
Our first robusta, and part of an ambitious project with two NGOs (VECO, Ecoflores) and two progressive coffee companies (Ontosoroh and Pelan Beans) to create a specialty robusta standard for the entire island of Flores.
2016: created a cross-industry partnership to promote and upgrade specialty robusta from Flores.
2017: local coop ASNIKOM used arabica standards to process fine robusta; imported first pilot shipment to Europe.
2018: sourced from three families in one village (Rende Nao) only, upgraded pulped natural by ceasing green bean drying, created semi-washed and fully washed drying experiments that will give more insights into how best to highlight the Flores robusta's unique flavour profile.
pulped natural: the coffee cherries are handpicked in the morning and pulped immediately by sunset on site. Each families have these huts in the middle of the plantation to pulp and semi dry the coffees before taking them to the final UPH to be fully dried.
fully washed: after pulping the coffee is washed and then fermented for 24 hours. After this, it is washed again and dried.
semi washed: similar to fully washed but without the second washing step.
Thankfully, no green bean drying or wet hulling was applied in 2018!
PRICE breakdown (EUR/KG)
€ 5,45 =
The price you pay for this coffee p/kg.
The price Ontosoroh pays ASNIKOM for the coffee. We pay a premium for processing and sorting the robusta as arabica. After the coop's processing and administrative costs, farmers are paid around 45% more than what they would receive from the market.
Ontosoroh export, packing, quarantine, local tax and handling expenses + insurance. Ontosoroh was able to make tremendous savings in 2018 compared to 2017.
€ 0,11 + € 0,17 + € 0,42
Local shipping from Ruteng (Flores) to Surabaya (Java) + shipping from Surabaya to Rotterdam + clearance and local costs
This Side Up compensation for spending time and resources importing this coffee. Our work includes building relationships with shipping and warehousing partners, managing export, import and shipping bureaucracy, Q grading, sampling and jointly promoting this coffee with Ontororoh and ASNIKOM.
AVAILABLE from ASNIKOM
Rende Nao pulped natural robusta
Rende Nao semi-washed robusta
Rende Nao fully washed robusta
Recommended Ikawa profile
We love how this crazy robusta responds to the profile that roaster Sebastian Geistdorfer made for naturals. The slightest hint of acidity but mostly a creamy and bittersweet punch allow you to taste this coffee's potential to the fullest on this one.
You may use these images freely to promote Manggarai among your customers. Please credit Zita Dusa of Pelan Beans if you do.
CONTACT the Flores Team
Our project's main coordinator in Indonesia is Adri of Ontosoroh. The other important actors are the coop ASNIKOM and the NGO Ecoflores. Below are their email addresses.
CONTACT Adri Yahdiyan
CONTACT Damasus Agas, Asnikom Commercial Manager
CONTACT Nina van Toulon, EcoFlores
Rende Nao, Manggarai - Flores, Indonesia
Our Specialty Robusta Project in Flores
In 2015, the wonderful Nina van Toulon of Ecoflores introduced us to the Indonesian island of Flores and its coffee. She calls this eco-diverse paradise home for more than ten years and has become passionate about saving her from plastic pollution, both on the ground and in the sea. What's more, she felt that development aid alone was not delivering enough results and thought perhaps Flores' coffee might hold the key. She told us about the island's prizes for its unique arabica coffees - but we soon found that elevation constraints would be a huge problem if we were to try to make specialty coffee production viable as a means to raise social and environmental standards on the island.
Some months later, having read about the successes of specialty robusta in India and Ecuador, we thought of the idea of upgrading the existing, low growing robusta on the island instead. We got in touch with Adri Yahdiyan, founder of Ontosoroh Coffees and found that not only does the island boast a range of unique robusta varieties, but that the quality of these fine robustas is known worldwide among the old coffee buyers and roasters us Third Wave snobs hardly ever hear about. In fact, our partners at ARC in Italy confirmed that "Flores Gr.2" robusta is always in high demand because of its clean cup and chocolaty notes.
For our bold plans to come to life, Adri recommended we talk to ASNIKOM, a well-organised and locally owned cooperative in Manggarai who would be able to process robusta with the same machinery and standards as arabica - and we vowed to pay them the same premium as they would get for fine arabicas. We later learned that Nina's partners at VECO - an esteemed NGO that has been active in upgrading agricultural livelihoods for years in Flores - already worked with ASNIKOM and were very interested in technically supporting our project to create a true specialty robusta. This stroke of luck that strong ties already existed between all parties made it possible for changes to be made to the group's robusta production relatively quickly.
After one year of cooperation we have the first results in stock: a spicy, very full bodied robusta that is naturally bitter because of its caffeine content, sweet chocolaty and very clean. Some progressive roasters are already showing that if we can get over our preconceptions, this coffee can work as an unusual but chocolaty single origin espresso (with heaps of crema) or more likely, a blend supplement that adds a recognisable coffee flavour for more traditional drinkers. In our view, it's an even bigger surprise to specialty coffee enthusiasts once they are able to reconnect with their "pre-specialty" self!
After a surprisingly good reception of this coffee (some roasters even offered it as a single origin espresso), the feedback was unanimous: this is one of the best robustas specialty roasters had ever tried, with a total lack of negative flavours usually associated with robusta (processing!). One minor comment that was noted was the Manggarai's body is relatively light for a robusta, while many roasters choose robusta in their blend to accentuate body especially. This led Adri of Otosoroh to propose two things: 1) more traceability by sourcing from a few quality focused families in the village of Rende Nao only and 2) processing experiments based on his experience in Sumatra: a fully and semi washed version. For the fully washed coffee, after pulping, it is washed and fermented for 24 hours. After, it is washed again and dried. The semi wash process is quite similar but with elimination of the second washing step. Lastly, we ceased to dry the green beans for the pulped natural, which increased the humidity homogeneity tremendously last season. We are finding already that these three coffees far surpass last season's cup quality, and will choose which processing types we want to continue next season based on roaster feedback.