This coffee grinder was found in the Gayo Highlands of Aceh, Indonesia, and dates from the early 20th century. The grinder is a product of Farmer Export Co. and was designed to be placed on a table to grind coffee beans into powder.
The history of coffee in Aceh is bittersweet and has its origins in a system of colonial exploitation. The Dutch colonial government began cultivating coffee in 1908 near Lake Lut Tawar, in central Aceh. In 1915, 16,000 kg of Aceh coffee was successfully exported abroad as a colonial trade commodity.
Coffee and Acehnese culture
The coffee crops in Aceh were exported to Europe by the Dutch while local people were prohibited from consuming and cultivating coffee themselves. These rules proved difficult to control, as coffee plants grew everywhere in villages around the Dutch-owned farms. Traditionally, the leaves of the Robusta (Coffea canephora) coffee plant are roasted, mixed with hot water and drunk with palm sugar.
Today, coffee is a part of Acehnese culture. Coffee stalls are found everywhere and stay open until the early hours of the morning so that people can meet and chat. Modern cafes continue to grow every year with modern coffee brewing equipment as well as automatic and manual espresso machines.
Hafnidar from the Museum Pedir shares the significance of the coffee grinder and history of coffee production in Aceh.