TENOM, Nov 13, 2014:

Its aroma is fragrant. Its taste is enticing. That is the general experience when visiting the Yit Foh Coffee Factory here.

The factory is one of the producers of Kopi Tenom.

It has been operating since 1960 and is still employing the traditional way of producing coffee — by roasting the beans over wood fire.

“This method is best in bringing out the true aroma of coffee,” said its factory manager, Alex Yong, when met by Bernama at the factory in Kampung Chintamata, 3km from Tenom town.

Alex, who inherited the family business, opened up 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”. 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 familiarise Sabah, just like Cameron Highlands popularised Boh Tea.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 until tomorrow.

The festival will culminate in an event tomorrow when 4,000 people will simultaneously drink coffee to break the current record of 3,068 people in theMalaysia 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.”The festival also features various tourist attractions in Tenom, known for its heavy influence of Murut culture, and the Kopi Tenom Beauty Pageant.

Tenom is today one of Sabah’s most promising sites for agricultural development for meeting the country’s agricultural produce needs.

The 2,238 sq km area is located 170km to the south of Kota Kinabalu and borders Keningau, Sipitang, Beaufort and the Kalimantan region of Indonesia.

Member of Parliament Datuk Raimee Unggi represents 68,000 people, 70% of them Murut.

He believes the district is an undiscovered goldmine of the agricultural industry and is determined to develop it.

“In Tenom, the main focus is to improve the economic standards among the villagers as its crops and fruit products have a high commercial value,” he told Bernama during a recent visit to the district.

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 quality produce.”

Among the farm produce with good market potential are bananas, avocados, guava and papaya.

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