TENOM: The fragrant aroma coming from Yit Foh Coffee Factory entices visitors even before they enter the ompound.
The factory is one of the producers of Kopi Tenom. It has been operating since 1960 and is still uses the traditional way to produce coffee grounds: by roasting the beans over woodfire.
“This method is the best way to bring out the true aroma of coffee,” said factory manager Alex Yong, when met at the factory in Kampung Chintamata, some 3km away from Tenom town.
Yong, who inherited the family business, opened a new factory in 1993 and is now working at expanding the market for his products globally.
Making coffee starts with the process of sun drying coffee cherries for 14 days. After that, the outer layers of the dried cherries are hulled. It is then roasted from 7am to noon by a “coffee cook” while packing is done from 8am to 5pm.
Yong has 36 trained staff, including six “coffee cooks”, capable of producing some 600 packets of coffee products daily.
Today, the company produces 10 coffee products that are marketed nationwide as well as in neighbouring Brunei.
Besides providing local farmers income opportunities, Kopi Tenom has also helped promote Sabah in the same way Boh Tea is associated with Cameron Highlands.
Coffee is one of Tenom’s most important agricultural products, so much so that the district has been dubbed “Sabah’s coffee capital”.
To further promote it, a coffee festival is being held which will culminate in 4,000 people simultaneously drinking coffee today.
They aim to break the current record of 3,068 people as stated in the Malaysian Book of Records.
Tenom district officer Madiyem Layapan said there would also be an exhibition on Kopi Tenom at the event, with the participation of two major coffee chains.
“We would also be flying in six Microlight aircraft carrying the Kopi Tenom flag”, he said.
The festival will also feature various tourist attractions in Tenom, known for its Murut culture, and the Kopi Tenom Beauty Pageant.
Tenom is located some 173km to the south of Kota Kinabalu and borders Keningau, Sipitang, Beaufort and the Kalimantan region of Indonesia.
Tenom MP Datuk Raimee Unggi represents 68,000 people, 70% of them Murut.
He believes that the district is an undiscovered goldmine.
“In Tenom, the main focus is to improve the economic standing of villagers, as the crops and fruit products have a high commercial value”, he said.
He wants to create a farm produce collection centre in Tenom to collate and organise data on produce as well as generate better income for the locals.
Raimee who is also Tenom’s Parliamentary Agriculture Development Council chairman said the centre would be equipped with modern equipment, a packaging area and fresh produce storage.
“We want our farmers to be given the best price for their produce”, he said.
Among the farm produce with good market potential are bananas, avocado, guava and papaya. — Bernama