Coffee seeds first arrived in Java from India in 1696, but it was a swing and a miss; the initial plantings were wiped out by flooding. Take two, cuttings from Ceylon, arrived in 1699 with a guy named Hendrik. It’s unclear when coffee planting arrived in Sumatra specifically. Java was the coffee king of Indonesia (aka the Dutch East Indies) for at least 100 years after cuttings first arrived from Ceylon before coffee of any significant volume was grown on other islands. And well into the 20th century, much coffee grown throughout Indonesia was called Java.
Growing Coffee in Sumatra
Coffee grows in the northern highlands, in an areas known as Tapanuli, Aceh and Gayo; and further south at Lintong, near lake Toba (one of the deepest in the world). Mandheling is not a region but a people of northern Sumatra, but much coffee from that area is named after them. Most coffee in Sumatra is grown between 2,500 and 5,500 feet and nearly all coffee is grown by smallholders coffee farmer. Nine out of 10 coffee farmers in Sumatra grow coffee on less than one hectare of land. Virtually all Sumatran coffee is wet hulled, a process known as “giling basah”. Plant Species include Bergandal and Sidikalang varieties of Typica, Hibrido de Timor (aka "Tim Tim"), a Bourbon cultivar known as Linie S, S-288 and S-795 found in Lintong, Rambung, Abyssinia, "USDA,” Caturra cultivars and Catimor lines.