Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Coffees of Sulawesi (Celebes)

Coffees of Sulawesi (Celebes)

Coffees of Sulawesi (Celebes)
By Jim Cameron

Sulawesi (Soo-luh-way-see), also known as Celebes, is an island that is part of the country of Indonesia. The islands of Indonesia can be divided into three groups; the greater Sunda islands, the Lesser Sunda Islands and the Moluccas. The Greater Sunda Islands are a chain, including: Sumatra, Java, Borneo and Sulawesi. The island consists of four finger-like mountainous peninsulas, with the highest point reaching 11,336 ft. Sulawesi, just each of Borneo, is Indonesia’s most mountainous island. Volcanoes, some of them still active, rise on the northern peninsula. Inland, Sulawesi’s valleys and plateaus have fertile farmlands and rich grazing land, while the coastal waters provide a bountiful catch. The equator passes through the northern part of Sulawesi and more than 50% of the surface of the island is covered in rainforests.

Ujung Pandang, is the principal city on the island. It was once an important colonial spice center. In fact, when Columbus arrived in America he was really looking for a western sea route from Europe to the Indies. The region known as the Indies includes Sulawesi. Although spices are no longer the islands most important export commodity, Ujung Pandang is still the chief trading center for eastern Indonesia.

Because the rugged terrain divided one section from those in another, the population of more than 14 million consists mostly of small groups of people with different languages, customs and religious beliefs. More than 250 languages are spoken in the whole of Indonesia, including Bahasa Indonesia, the country’s official language. Around 88 percent of Indonesia’s people are Muslims, and 10 percent are Christians. However, many hold other beliefs that combine worship of ancient ancestors and nature, with Islam or Christianity.

Most of the people are Malays whose ancestors came from the mainland of Southeast Asia. The great majority of the people live in small villages and farm for a living. Farmers raise such crops as coffee, corn, rice, yams and tobacco for export. The Dutch introduced coffee to Sulawesi in the late 1690’s.

The Sulawesi available at is from Toraja, a mountainous area near the center of the island and the oldest coffee-growing region on the island. Sulawesi Toraja is a splendid coffee, much like the best Sumatran coffees. It is a little lighter in body and a bit livelier in acidity. If you enjoy the exotic coffees of Indonesia, or if you are just looking for something new, our Celebes Toraja is an experience waiting just for you.

Jim Cameron is a 30-year veteran in the specialty coffee roasting industry. Jim has authored many articles on various aspects of the industry and traveled abroad to speak at international gatherings of coffee professionals. Semi retired, Jim now writes on the subject of roasting and makes green coffee beans available to the home roasting market at his web site:

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