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Category: Local Champions By : Ardian Wibisono Read : 598 Date : Friday, June 02, 2017 - 17:32:08




Ahmad Zamroni / Forbes Indonesia

Irfan Anwar is a very ambitious and focused young man. Now 36, he has built his company PT Coffindo from scratch 18 years ago in Medan to become one of the most significant coffee firms in the country, and claiming to be the fastest growing firm as well. He now exports coffee to over 30 countries, to nearly 18,000 buyers, and claims to have the largest coffee plantation in the private sector (the larger ones are state-owned). For his next step, he says he wants to take Coffindo public.

Irfan got an early start in business. Raised by a family with background in the palm oil business, he decided to look into other sectors like timber, wood and contracting, before settling on coffee. He established Coffindo when he was just 19.  Irfan holds a 95% share of the company, with the other 5% held by his brother.

“It’s hard to compete and lead in the palm oil business, the competitors there are already well-established. But I saw that coffee has a huge potential, especially in Sumatra. The coffee sector is a open market, where you can buy and sell from anyone,” Irfan says.

Irfan started as a middleman, buying a few tonnes of coffee and selling them onward to other buyers. The profit was good, and soon he was able to enter the export market a few years later. He chose exports because Indonesians drink only 1.2 kilogram of coffee a year, while in developed markets, it was over five kilograms. Western markets also prefer higher quality, and higher priced, coffees, while in the domestic market is mostly the cheaper, lower-quality coffee. Coffindo’s largest export destinations are Japan, U.S., Germany, South Korea and Taiwan, comprising 44% of total export sales.

Yet Irfan feels Indonesia will catch up to the global trend toward higher quality coffees—along with higher domestic consumption. “Currently our penetration in the domestic market is limited because consumers purchasing power is relatively low. But we believe the segment we are targeting now has a bright outlook,” says Irfan. “We believe in the next five to ten years, the pattern will follow the ones in the developed countries, and the people will shift to higher-end coffee.” 

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