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Coffee Stories

Arif Budiyanto

By 19th May 2024No Comments7 min read

To do what you can, with what you have, where you are, is no small feat, and for Arif Budiyanto, that means going above and beyond to make the best of all that life throws his way. Be it improving himself by learning and relearning or improving a whole community and providing them with opportunities that will change their lives forever, this is his coffee story.


Arif Budiyanto coffee farmer from Indonesia, donation recipient of coffee wristbands

Arif Budiyanto

Overseeing Java Sugesti, made up of three blocks: Blok Pereng, Block Makam, and Blok Pamsimas, is Arif Budiyanto, who has been in the coffee industry for over 10 years. Having received the 1.5-hectare block from his parents and later purchasing the other two, Arif understands their value for everyone who has worked there since coffee seeds (from Puslitkoka) were first planted in 1998.


Back then, the coffee seeds received were of the Kartika variety and produced small beans with low productivity. But as the farm and the coffee knowledge of the people involved grew, Arif’s relative started a nursery to test other varieties like the Ateng Super, Gayo I, Kartika, Lini S, and Sigararutang. He discovered that Ateng Super gave the highest produce with little maintenance, a simple processing method, and good seeds even after running through the pulping machine.


Although the farm is considerably young, Arif has garnered experience in coffee processing and uses his experience to get the most out of the farm. He may employ specialists from time to time for specific tasks like weeding and fertilizing, but when it comes to tasks like plant control, tending to the land, and coffee processing, Arif (a Q Processing Level 2 professional) and his team are very capable.


For quality checks, Arif is in constant contact with his coffee partners in bigger cities like Jakarta and Bandung, who have good roasting machines and are certified to assist. But he is in no way resting on his oars, as most of his day is spent on the coffee farms.


“Besides visiting the coffee farm, I check the livestock, fishing ponds, or our small coffee shop, which we also use to test the coffee we process.”


With a daily routine filled with different tasks based on multiple factors, Arif’s main routine is based on the season in which the coffee plants are in. During the mid-harvest (the little harvest before the main harvest), the members of Java Sugesti can experiment with about 20 to 30 kg of produce, try different processing techniques, keep things up to date with their SOP (Standard Operating Procedure), and also take any notes to look out for during the main harvest. Between November and January, they map out what their clients need, be it espresso-based or filter coffee, and try making samples of that to know how the finished product could taste.


In March, the harvest begins, reaching its peak in April, and with data gathered from previous harvests, the team knows just how many cherries need to be processed in time for post-harvest, where the focus is on keeping the land fertile by pruning and annual fertilization, improving where necessary.


All this talk of processing proves that this is Arif’s forte, as he plans to stick with processing, although he acknowledges that it is still limited. 


“I’m determined to serve in processing. I don’t have any desire to be a roaster or barista. The main constraint in processing is that it is temporary. That’s why I’ve been learning evaluation for the last two years.”


After starting the processing journey in 2017, Arif refused to remain comfortable, although he had buyers as early as 2020. He pushed himself into more experimentation, and as his expertise increased, people who knew him were more keen to send coffee journals his way, allowing him to grow continually. He plans to be a top 5 coffee processor at CoE (Cup of Excellence), which is why he is doing his due diligence by reading journals and taking part in many trials and competitions relating to processing, although he mentions that they require a lot of energy and can be very cost-intensive as competitors may need to work with coffee weighing up to 300 kg.


When he’s not processing, he takes part in evaluation and keeps the farm fertilized with necessary fertilizers like NPK (Nitrogen Phosphorus Potassium) or using the processing residue (parchment and mucilage). He also uses other coffee waste products after the hulling process as feed (15% of the total feed) for the sheep.

Arif’s idea of reusing coffee waste is a contribution to his goal for Java Sugesti. A goal of “ZERO WASTE” involves making good use of every part of the coffee planting and processing by-products to improve other ecosystems or the coffee ecosystem itself while being cost-effective. This also relates to another goal he has—to be independent and not have to rely on middlemen to determine the price of his products—which has been marked by challenges based on different factors.


With high productivity, market conditions would have less effect on the price of his products, and he could bring in more order and development in multiple areas of the business without having to worry about entering a price war with other producers.


“To meet the needs of the roastery and coffee shop, we may enter a price war with others. When there is an increase in process, middlemen cannot come in and damage the price.”


This is why Arif advises anyone who wishes to become a coffee farmer to consider a lot. The coffee market can be unstable at times, and farmers also have to deal with road access for transporting their products, farm supervision from threats, maintenance and fertilization, and finally, government policies, one of the current thorns in Arif’s flesh, which he is slowly finding a way to pull out.


Arif’s main battle remains the low visibility of Central Java as a coffee production hub. Java Sugesti is located at Majatengah village, Kalibening sub-district, Banjarnegara district – Central Java, Indonesia, the part of Java with the least attention (unlike West and East Java), and although they participate in tournaments and competitions, people still find it hard to see the potential in Central Java.


“Central Java has a lot of potential because it has volcanoes and highlands surrounding it. I am sure in two to three years, we will see one point of Central Java on the coffee map.”


Arif remains hopeful for the coffee industry because it is always growing. He has noticed a development in all sides of the industry, from farmers to consumers, based on processing methods, roasting techniques, brewing recipes, and the expanse of coffee knowledge, with more and more people attending quality control classes.

Oluwatobifunmi Olaniran

Take a bow! You got to this section! I'm an author at I'M NOT A BARISTA, a Creative Writer and Electrical Engineer from Nigeria. "I laugh in the face of danger." -Simba