When Coffee Boosts The Local Economy: Spotlighting Muncar, A Prosperous Village by Astra in Central Java

From a coffeetalk in Surabaya held by Bank Indonesia back in July 2023, I learned that Indonesia's coffee is among the best commodities in the world. The coffee is special due to its various growing fields across the archipelago. The Robusta, for example, will likely taste different when grown in different areas. To penetrate the global market, however, quality has to be assured to go with the uniqueness.

Coffee for prosperity (Photo credit: Astra)

That is what Achmad Sofiyudin is concerned about and finally encouraged to act. This farmer from Muncar has been genuinely supporting environmental care since 2016 and made every effort to initiate a community-based tourism village where he lives. What attracts him the most is coffee beans.

Nicknamed Sofi, he is especially interested in promoting local coffee to reach a wider market in hopes of gaining economic prosperity for fellow farmers in the village. His hard work paid off when he was awarded the prestigious Satu Indonesia Awards in 2017 for his valuable contribution to environmental preservation (including coffee growing) while taking local people to join in the activity.

The opportunity opened up when Astra named Muncar one of its assisted villages in the Desa Sejahtera Astra (DSA) program in 2018. This is a manifestation of Astra’s sustainable contribution to the country through Corporate Social Responsibility. The program is aimed at empowering local people in the villages with entrepreneurship based on their potential. Astra’s assistance includes training, facilities, funding, and product marketing.  

Coffee for prosperity

Located in the Gemawang subdistrict, Temanggung regency, Central Java, Muncar is a village that has top-quality Robusta beans in abundance known all over the province. Not only is the coffee favorable in the local market but also famous in Europe, i.e. the Netherlands.

"Coffee farmers here used to pick beans unselectively. Green beans are harvested and sold as is despite the low price, costing IDR 20,000 to 26,000. What matters is that they made money back then," said Sofi in a workshop on the environment held virtually by Astra in November 2021.

Muncar is indeed a bountiful village where everyone can witness true beauty all over the area. This is by virtue of three mountains in the vicinity: Sindoro, Sumbing, and Prau. Sofi might see what others couldn’t see: the huge potential of local coffee. He started cultivating coffee from growing, caring for, and harvesting to processing the bean using international processing standards.  

Coffee farmers in Muncar (Photo credit:

Asking people to join him in growing coffee was apparently no easy task. Most people in the village make money from “mblandong” (collecting logs from the nearby forests) or being labor in factories. To his call, some obeyed and some ignored. Growing coffee was not a considerable choice for them. He was resolute in his decision to plant as many coffee trees as possible. It is this determination that led him to receive the SATU Indonesia Awards in the first place.

When Muncar became one of the Astra-assisted villages in 2018, Sofi was assigned to be the facilitator in the DSA. While more coffee trees are grown and the processing is improved, the promotion of Muncar’s Robusta coffee is intensively carried out. The product soon attracted buyers to order due to the tasty coffee with premium quality. 

More villagers are attracted to growing coffee. (Photo credit:

Sofi claimed that coffee production has boosted the local economy. Owing to good management and better processing. The price of Muncar coffee can score at least IDR 40,000 per kilogram as compared to IDR 20,000 before Astra's assistance. No wonder that residents in the area who were reluctant are beginning to cultivate coffee as well. They believe coffee equals prosperity.  

As the name suggests, Muncar has finally become a desa sejahtera (prosperous village) on account of the Robusta coffee and single-origin Arabica Petaranga which have become mainstay commodities. The product has proven to be profitable both in the national market and in foreign countries such as the Netherlands.

Eco-friendly tourism that celebrates local treasures

In response to the huge potential market of Muncar's coffee, Sofi and his DSA decided to launch a series of coffee-based activities including the Muncar Moncer Coffee Trip where tourists will be taken to tour the coffee plantation. Wearing caping (wooden cap) and tenggok (a small basket made of wood to contain the harvested coffee bean), they will be invited to delight in the sensation of eating together and sipping a cup of coffee in the midst of the plantation while watching the process of coffee making.

Tourists delight in the local food during a special trip in Muncar (Photo credit: jadesta.kemenparekraf)

Muncar got more in the spotlight when the Coffee Harvest Festival of Sang Intan Merah Bumi Phala was held in 2019. In addition, the Central Java-DIY Barista Brewing Competition and the Muncar Fun Brewing V60 Competition have also gained massive public attention, especially from coffee aficionados. Two of these events are already in the Calendar of Events (CoE) which are held annually every July and August. 

The positive phenomenon confirms that people in Muncar, Temanggung, have benefited a lot from coffee, both socially and economically. What's more important, Muncar has successfully morphed into an outstanding ecotourism destination village where domestic and foreign tourists are swarming the area to stimulate the local economy. 

By ecotourism, Muncar offers eco-friendly tourism activities that celebrate local treasures, including cultural wisdom. In this regard, DSA Muncar combines aspects of natural conservation and socio-cultural and economic empowerment while also accommodating learning and education aspects. Children and younger generations alike will also benefit from this type of tourism.

Muncar, an ecotourism village that generates profit (Photo credit: jadesta.kemenparekraf)

From coffee to creative economy

As more and more tourists are coming to the village, the creative economy is starting to grow. While coffee remains a primary commodity, the production of other local food is also developed. In addition to ant sugar, visitors can enjoy palm sugar, klanceng honey, and various keripiks (chip) including banana chips, debok (banana bark) chips, coffee leaves chips and taro chips. Other commodities that celebrate local treasures include vanilla, clove, cubeb, and plantains while also promoting fisheries and animal husbandry.

What made Muncar even more alluring to visit is the Curug Lawe, a 250-meter waterfall in an exotic pine forest that exudes its tropical elegance. Of course, another spot that tourists can't miss is the Blawong hamlet that once went viral on social media and was dubbed the “Korea van Java”. Situated in a valley fault, the hamlet rises above the fog among hills that it is a perfect haven for everyone to enjoy the beautiful sunrise while sipping Muncar's distinguished coffee. 

Under the auspices of Astra, Sofi asserts that local people have improved economically. From coffee cultivation, for example, one farmer in the village can make at least IDR 30 million a year. That is a substantial number to note as opposed to the previous coffee sale that tended to be meager. 

Muncar's coffee that rises to fame (Doc. Muncar Moncer)

Since its inception as a DSA in 2018, a dramatic change has occurred in Muncar. There were initially 200 people taking part in coffee cultivation, and the number exploded in 2021 amounting to 5,500 people. Labor absorption also increased drastically from 20 people to 80 people. With the DSA, Sofi is committed to making Temanggung rise up. With the strong will and hard work of local people and Astra's assistance, every goal is possible.

To respond to the increasing demand for the Robusta coffee, Astra has decided to expand to more villages to be DSAs. There were only three villages that partnered with Astra back then and now there are 14 villages.

Head of Corporate Communications PT Astra International Tbk, Boy Kelana Soebroto put it this way.

"Overall up to 2021, Astra has presented various programs through 930 DSAs to 104,311 people throughout Indonesia, opened up employment opportunities for 16,345 people, and increased the average income by 70% all over Indonesia.

Muncar has identified itself as being moncer, an Indonesian word for shining with brilliance or magnificence. Being an Astra-assisted village, Muncar has successfully integrated the potential of beautiful nature with agro-tourism that results in benefits generation for many people owing to coffee and local richness.


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