Friday, 1 June 2018

TENOM: The Coffee Capital of Borneo

Coffee products for sale

WILLIAM STEWART CAME FROM a small town called Tenom, a remote place in Malaysian Borneo. His father, David Stewart, was a successful real estate broker. William’s grandfather was an American planter from California. THE EURASIANS Chapter 9, Page 39

I imagined Fort Birch is like a besieged pioneer settlement surrounded by hostile tribes and animals. But that is just what we saw in the movies about the American Wild West!  This fort however was actually once a remote outpost deep in the heart of Borneo during the 1800s. When the British arrived at Fort Birch, they immediately saw this place having potential to be an agricultural center; not only to feed the North Borneo population, but also introducing cash crops for export. That was why they built the railroad from Jesselton (now known as Kota Kinabalu) connecting to this place in the late 1890s. They brought in Chinese laborers including new recruits from China to help opened up this wild frontier. The reason why the British saw Fort Birch as a potential agricultural center was because it had access to ample supply of fresh water from the mighty Padas River and the soil is good. The Chinese laborers later on became farmers who owned their own plots of land and planted fruits and vegetables. The British introduced rubber, tobacco as well as coffee. Today Fort Birch is called Tenom; an important food basket for North Borneo (Sabah) and most importantly it is now known as the Coffee Capital of Borneo.

The showroom interior
Most people drink coffee for its taste and its caffeine jolt, but hey! The aroma of coffee is believed to be brain stirrer which eventually improves its genes and proteins. As a result the brain will received 18 benefits! These are claims being made by coffee lovers. I myself rarely drink coffee so sadly I will not be able to experience what they claimed. Among the benefits of coffee aromas are reductions in stress, improving sharpness and also lower the risk of diabetes. 

People nowadays are more interested to know where does coffee come from and how is it made. Well! Coffee was first noticed by the Arabs in the 15th century probably when their traders were doing business in Abyssinia (now known as Ethiopia). Thus the origin of coffee can be traced back to the sub-Saharan Africa including the Tenom Coffee. The Tenom Coffee is the Robusta Coffee (coffea canephora). It is a sturdy species with low acidity and high bitterness. It is less susceptible to disease and has high contents of antioxidants. There are so many methods and techniques how a coffee is made. Each country had its own ways of roasting this bean. 

The exterior of the showroom
Why the Tenom Coffee is so special? I was informed that the coffee powder manufacturers in Tenom still use firewood and drum rotation methods in preparing their coffee; a tradition that had been followed from the early days of coffee production. The Tenom Coffee doesn’t have artificial coloring or preservation. That’s what makes it so special. Their technique of preparing coffee is a deeply guarded secret; because they won’t allow anybody just to walk into their backyard and see how they manufactured their coffee! But I had to admit that as I search for the coffee showrooms in Tenom, all I found all over the Tenom Town was coffee aromas. It was indeed so pleasant and intoxicating which made us forgets our immediate problems or annoyance. 

After searching frantically, at last we found one. This one is the Yit Foh Tenom Coffee established in 1960. The showrooms were so presentable and inviting and many are captivated by their adverts. They even give out small cups so you could have a sip of their sample coffee. I am not a coffee drinker; but the taste is fantastic! The aroma; even more extraordinary! I would encourage visitors to try out visiting these showrooms. Even a non-coffee lover like me could appreciate such magnificent products!  

The first English romance-thriller from Borneo. 
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