Wake up and smell Crocker Range’s coffee

Hasnoor Hussain

THE Crocker Range lies in the west coast of Sabah, a 75km stretch from Tenom in the west to Ranau in the east. It divides the west and east coast of the state.

On one of its peaks at the east, near to the Crocker Range National Park, residents of Kg Toboh Lama are excited. The coffee cherry harvest season is near. Some of the fruits have turned red. For the next few months until February, they will be busy plucking the fruits.

Coffee has been planted in Kg Tolok Lama since the colonial era. However, only in the last 10 years have the villagers converted the hillslope from other vegetation to arabica, a premier version of coffee.

The elevation of between 1,300, and 1,500m provides better moisture and lower temperatures between 16℃ and 27℃ to grow the plant. The wider range of temperatures in the highlands gives the coffee bean its unique taste. 

Most of the coffee farmers are already in middle age and have to climb to their farms. They have to prune the branches, provide enough nutrients to the plants and keep pests away from the fruit. It is laborious work even though the yield is seasonal. Despite that, the farmers are practising ecological farming, which is more sustainable and to maintain the environmental biodiversity in their coffee production. 

In the past four years, the coffee beans have been marketed globally as specialty coffee under the Sabarica brand. Thus, the price of raw coffee beans has hiked up from below RM10 per kilo in the last decade to around RM25 today. – October 2, 2020.

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