Multimedia: Lintang Coffee Millers of Sumatra

Multimedia: Lintang Coffee Millers of Sumatra

Hanging out a 2nd story window to get the shot.

Over the past week I have been up to my chest in tea plants and knee deep in coffee beans. I have slid muddy slopes on my butt down too many times to count and dug dirt out of my camera more than I care to think about. But I gotta say, it has been a great time. I have been able to get plenty of creative images for my client and I feel I have stretched my creativity and that is always a good thing.

Most of the trip has gone as planned. All but yesterday, when 10 minutes turned into the scariest part of the trip, on our way back to Palembang. We were only a few hours into our 10 hour trip back to the big city when we came around a bend in the road and found four large bamboo trees placed across the highway. Having lived in some pretty rough areas for most of my adult life, the first thing I thought was: bandits! Our driver gets out of the car just as I was telling him to continue to drive on over the trees, but he didn’t hear me and jumped out and started moving them off the road. About the same time a small van pulls up close behind us and four men jump out. They walk up to the bamboo and then look around. At first I thought they were just like us, travelers stopped by the road block. But then I see one of them has a pistol stuck in his pants behind his back. I suppose he might have been a plain clothed security officer of some sort. But the chances of a security officer appearing just at that moment is about like winning the lottery. About this time our driver finishes moving the large bamboo poles and and the man with the gun seems to show no interest in us. My heart is pounding as we drive off. Apparently, we were either not who they was looking for, or we were too much of a risk for them. Anyway I look at it I thank the Lord for watching over us.

The multimedia slide show below is on the Lintang Coffee Millers of Sumatra. The coffee millers hull the cherry, thus leaving the familiar much loved coffee bean. These millers spend all day hauling 220 lbs (100 kg) sacks of dried coffee cherries from trucks into their shop, up a ramp, dump them into a hopper, where they get sucked down through the hulling machine that removes the skin and fruit, and leaves the raw bean. This is just one step in the process of how we end up with rich dark Sumatran coffee. I hope you enjoy this peak at the Lintang Coffee Millers of Sumatra.

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About The Author

Matt Brandon

Matt is a Malaysia based humanitarian and travel photographer. Well known as a photographer and international workshop instructor, Matt’s images have been used by business and organizations around the globe. Matt also on the design board for Think Tank Photo, a camera bag manufacturer. In 2013 Matt founded the On Field Media Project to train the staff of non-profits to use appropriate technology to produce timely as well as quality images.


  1. Kristupa Saragih

    What a story and story behind the story
    I was born in Jambi, the neighbouring province of South Sumatra Province

  2. Alan Morris

    Great work Matt. Your work is always interesting and instructive. I particularly like the interviews you do with Thanks for sharing.

  3. Matt Brandon

    Thanks for your comment. I am really enjoying it here. I am here for one more day, then back to Malaysia.

  4. Matt Brandon

    Thanks Alan. I appreciate your comments. Keep listening and thanks for dropping by.

  5. Jon McCormack

    Very nice Matt – I continued to be inspired by your story telling. I spent the weekend with Gavin Gough and it bought back wonderful memories of our time in India. Keep up the great work and hope to see you again soon.

  6. Jordan N.

    Brandon, I love this! My wife and I are serious coffee lovers and I love this idea of your photo essay. Thanks for sharing it.

  7. Mconnorsphotos

    Beautifully put together, Matt. The lighting in the images is fantastic and compliments the storyline well.

  8. Erin Wilson

    Wonderful images, Matt! I found that the slides with longer captions passed too quickly for me… enough time to read but not to appreciate the photograph. That said, love the story you showed.

  9. Nicole G

    Wow Matt! Glad to hear that story had an uneventful ending! Try to stay out of trouble, okay? 🙂

  10. Matt Welsh

    Wow, how scary. I’m really glad you’re OK and everything worked out. Who knew coffee could be such a dangerous commodity…

  11. Kenneth

    That’s a wonderful story about the backbreaking work that needs to be done to extract some of our favorite brews! I’m not sure I could even get a large sack like those to budge, never mind carry them!

    Great picture story, I’ve included it in my Sumatra Coffee webpage, if that’s okay with you.


  12. Matt powell

    I can’t wait to work with you!


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