Indonesia is not only a Bali resort, a love for sports and live soccer betting, multi-million Jakarta, temple complexes of Java, but also 17 804 inhabited and uninhabited islands. One of the most important assets of the country is coffee.
Indonesia, along with Brazil, Vietnam, Colombia, and Ethiopia, is one of the five leading countries in the world for coffee production. Let’s talk about what makes Indonesian coffee stand out, why the beans from different islands taste differently, and whether it is worth trying the main local dish – kopi luwak.
How It All Began
The Dutch brought coffee to Jakarta at the beginning of the 18th century. In 1711, the planters had already received the first harvest, and a year later they sent the harvested grain home to Amsterdam.
Strictly speaking, Indonesia became the first place outside the geographical homeland of the coffee tree, where the planted Arabica bushes took root and yielded a decent harvest. For a century after that, the country was the main supplier of beans to Europe, until Brazil took the lead with a huge amount of cheap coffee grown by slaves. But even then, Indonesian Arabica was sold in huge volumes.
Everything changed in 1876. Almost all of the trees died due to the epidemic of coffee rust, and the planters had to change the Arabica for the more viable, albeit less aromatic, robusta. The largest plantations in Java and Sumatra have been given to her to this day, and arabica is grown on small farms on the islands of Sumatra, Java, Sulawesi, Bali, Flores, Timor and the western part of the island of Papua (the eastern part belongs to Papua New Guinea, which also produces coffee ).
The triumphant procession of Robusta continues to this day: 90% of Indonesian coffee is precisely Robusta. But the remaining 10% of Arabica coffee is rightfully included in the top of the most delicious coffee in the world.
Three Pillars of Success for Indonesian Coffee
Indonesia is located in equatorial latitudes. A hot, humid climate with a lot of rainfall, island volcanic soil rich in minerals, mountains of sufficient height, and proximity to the ocean make the country an ideal place for growing coffee.
Almost all of the country’s coffee is grown on small family farms. Harvesting is done by hand, which allows you to select only the ripest berries, leaving unripe on the branches.
Due to the humid climate, most coffee in Indonesia undergoes washed processing: the berries are peeled, fermented, and after the end of fermentation, the remnants of gluten are washed off with water and sent for drying. When the moisture content of the grains decreases to 10–12%, the patch (a hard parchment shell) is removed from them and sent for packaging.
Vanilla, Chocolate, or Bread. Which Variety Should You Choose For The Best Taste?
Indonesia supplies many different varieties of Arabica, but the most famous local coffee and popular travel brand is definitely kopi luwak. The production of this type of coffee is based on natural fermentation in the digestive tract of animals called civets (read more about the production of this type of coffee in our article). The taste of such coffee is soft, creamy honey, with complex floral and fruity notes.
However, Indonesia is famous not only for kopy luwak, but also for excellent varieties of arabica, the taste of coffee differs from region to region.
Sumatra Mandeling is ideal for those who like to experiment. A rich and dense coffee with notes of spices, chocolate, and even fire smoke.
“Sulawesi Toraya (Toraja)” – coffee for those who prefer sourness, plum and citrus notes, light chocolate bitterness.
Sumatra Aceh is a balanced multifaceted coffee with floral and fruity notes, sourness, and natural sweetness. Suitable for coffee machines and alternative brewing methods.
“Java Blavan” – light coffee with natural sweetness, fruity sourness, and notes of jasmine and orange.