Nestled in the northeastern region of Malaysia, the state of Kelantan is home to a unique and remarkable coffee culture. Pronounced as "keh-lahn-tahn," this state is bordered by Thailand and is known for its lush, green landscapes and vibrant traditional arts, such as batik and songket. The coffee-growing region lies at an altitude of around 1,000 meters above sea level, and one interesting fact about Kelantanese coffee is that the beans are often roasted with margarine, which gives the final brew a distinctive flavor and aroma.
Coffee has been a part of Kelantan's agricultural and cultural landscape for centuries, with records of coffee cultivation dating back to the 18th century. Coffee was introduced to the region by the Dutch, who brought the beans from Indonesia. The fertile soil and high altitude of the region have made it an ideal location for coffee cultivation. Over time, the coffee industry in Kelantan has evolved to become an essential aspect of the state's economy and identity.
Although specific information on farming and processing methods in Kelantan is limited, the overall coffee production in Malaysia follows certain general practices. Most coffee in Malaysia is grown on small-scale family-run farms, which typically span around two hectares. The farmers here primarily cultivate two types of coffee beans: Arabica and Robusta, with the latter being more prevalent due to its resilience to pests and diseases.
Malaysian coffee farmers generally use traditional wet-processing methods to process their coffee beans. This involves separating the fruit from the beans and then fermenting the beans for around 24 to 36 hours. After fermentation, the beans are washed and spread out to dry under the sun. Once the beans have reached the desired moisture level, they are sorted and prepared for roasting.In Kelantan, the coffee roasting process is unique, as the beans are often roasted with margarine, which imparts a distinct flavor and aroma to the final brew. This tradition has been passed down for generations and is a key characteristic of Kelantanese coffee.
Coffees from Kelantan are known for their bold and robust flavors, thanks to the combination of the rich terroir and the unique roasting process. The use of margarine during roasting results in a smooth and buttery mouthfeel, which complements the coffee's natural sweetness and fruity notes. Some common flavors that can be detected in Kelantanese coffee include caramel, chocolate, and dried fruit. The brew also exhibits a medium to full body and a balanced acidity, making it a truly enjoyable and distinctive cup.
While there may not be specific well-known farms or farmers in the region, Kelantanese coffee as a whole is gaining recognition and appreciation within the specialty coffee community. As interest in this unique coffee continues to grow, it is expected that more information and attention will be given to the region, its farmers, and the remarkable coffee they produce.