At 2,000 meters above sea level, the moun- tains are high enough to trap the clouds, which nestle in the hills around Laut Tawar Lake in Central Aceh just before dawn. As the sun rises over the hills, the temperature climbs from a chilly 18 degrees and the cloud dissipates, revealing a wide vista of lush green coffee plants spread out over thousands of hectares up the hillsides surround- ing the lake.
This area is home to Gayo coffee, among the most sought-after coffees in the world. To be sure, other Indonesian coffees are more widely known, such Sulawesi Toraja, Sumatra Mandheling and even the notorious Kopi Luwak. Yet Gayo’s star is rising, especially amongst those who are looking for organic and fair-trade coffee. Also on pure taste, some say Gayo, which is 100% Arabica ranks among the world’s best, compared favorably to other high- growth coffees such as Blue Mountain from Jamaica. It is found here in this part of Aceh and nowhere else.