Beans To Watch Out For: Counter Culture Atu Lintang

The year is 2004, just before the Tsunami, deep within the jungles of Indonesia. Against a backdrop of Sharia law and armed revolution, Irham Junus is organizing a convoy. Several vehicles, some large and some small, some decoys and some carrying precious cargo, must bomb down the side of an unpaved, one-lane road from Jagong to Medan, as fast as possible, stopping for nothing, lest they be robbed or worse by Islamic revolutionaries. It’s risky, for sure, but the pay-off is worth it; the product they’re carrying just might change their lives.

So bomb down the highway they do, if you can even call this moss-mud mountainside dirt track a “highway”. To Medan, where a ship waits to carry their future across the vast Pacific ocean, to the fascinated grasp of the westerners for whom their product is its own source of life and light. All hell could break loose, but it doesn’t; Irham’s plan goes off without a hitch. He breathes deep, distributes the funds, and prepares to do it all again for another harvest…

This sounds like the pitch for a Hollywood film, an exploration of Orient and Occident, a real life Indiana Jones tale. And perhaps it’s all that, or ought to be. But for now, this is the very real story behind the history of Atu Lintang, the first-ever Indonesian microlot offering from Counter Culture Coffee, and perhaps the only true Indonesian microlot in the world. From those dramatic beginnings in 2004 to now, Atu Lintang is the product of years of work by Irham Junus and his daughter, Ina.

Ina Junus is 24 years old. She lives in an apartment in Medan, where she manages the organizational realities of her family’s export business. Her father represents a 200 member agricultural cooperative in the heavily forested regions around Jagong, where extraordinary coffee is produced, and Ina is the point person in Medan. She represents the next generation in Indonesian coffee; bright, forward thinking, learning more and more English by the day, and committed to improving quality in her father’s co-op from harvest to harvest, hoping for ever-increasingly extraordinary results. It’s a story of generations: Irham took the risks, laid the groundwork, and now Ina advances the craft and dramatically improves cup quality

And cup quality, it has. Atu Lintang is a startling unique coffee, both in the cup and on the page. No rubber. No earthworms. Warm woods, black cherry, red wine tannins, completely round on the mouthfeel, startling and challenging, savory, soft. Third party certified organic by OCIA, this coffee is processed at the Jagong wet mill, one of only two working post-colonial mills anywhere in Indonesia. Whereas the vast, vast majority of coffees in Indonesia are hand milled using kits made of scrap bike parts, the Jagong mill is centralized, allowing for increased oversight and QC in a stable location.

Our wholehearted recommendation is find your way to a cup of this coffee, and consider yourself lucky. Though luck doesn’t have much to do with it…Atu Lintang is a story of cooperation, hard work, remarkable coffee, sure-footed automobiles, gumption, guts, and generations. Consider yourself among the first to know this coffee, before Hollywood comes calling.

We tried Atu Lintang on an Aeropress at Everyman Espresso (136 E. 13th Street, West Village, Manhattan). Learn more on Atu Lintang on the Counter Culture Coffee website.


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