That Java Chip Frappuccino from Starbucks that everyone seems to like? Where do you think the term Java comes from?
When commercialization of coffee surged in different parts of the world, an Indonesian island called Java was amongst the first to fuel the momentum of coffee production in the country.
And it is said that till today, the term Java has become akin to that of coffee. Sure, the Java Chip in the drink may be a substitute for chocolate chips, but that is the power of Indonesian coffees.
Knowing more about the land that birthed some of the best coffees in the world would surely give you better insight into what it means to be consuming Indonesian coffee.
So, keep reading to know all about how Indonesia made it to the global coffee map, ranking in the top 5 countries producing coffee in the world.
Coffee being introduced in various countries definitely has a strong colonial influence. Indonesia, too, shares a similar history, where the late 1600s and early 1700s were turning points in the country's journey of assimilating to coffee production and rising to the top.
Dutch colonialists were the ones to bring coffee to Indonesia. Once the Dutch government saw how quick the exports of coffee grew, the production spread from Java to neighbouring islands of Indonesia. Sumatra, Bali, and Sulawesi are some of the other islands where large coffee plantations took root.
Mocha Java is the first coffee blend made of Java coffee and coffee from Yemen.
Later, Indonesia too couldn’t prevent the devastation caused by the coffee rust from the 1860s onwards. Officials brought in Robusta coffee, which was immune to the plant disease affecting the Arabica plantations.
Ultimately, after years of intervention by other colonial powers, Indonesian farmers were finally able to reap the reward of their work and that of the previous generations.
Where previously, these coffee producers' conditions had been deplorable under the colonial force, now, the ownership of a majority of the plantations was passed onto labourers.
The country soon saw many small family farms taking the reins on their coffee exports.
A significant percentage of coffee produced in Indonesia even to date is Robusta. But there’s been an increase in recent times where more and more Arabica has been making an appearance.
Giling Basah is an interesting method that Indonesians use to process their coffee. This is more commonly referred to as the semi-wash or wet-hull method. It involves hand de-pulping of coffee cherries, semi-drying the beans, machine-hulling and then drying the beans again.
Earlier, domestic coffee consumption hadn’t been at par with that of the exports or even close to the mark. But in recent years, there’s been a shift in the other direction. There are a couple of primary reasons for this.
First of all, in the last few years, more and more local coffee shops have been gaining momentum in Indonesia, giving rise to the café culture that younger audiences are eagerly buying into.
Consequently, western or global coffee brands and chains have little room to grow in such a market with a sizable chunk of the population buying from domestic producers.
A study conducted in 2019 showed that palm sugar, cookies and cream, and avocado were among the top 3 milk-based coffee flavours consumed locally.
It wouldn’t be an authentic dive into the world of Indonesian coffees without mentioning kopi luwak.
This is a method of producing coffee where partially digested coffee cherries are eaten and excreted by Asian palm civets, a mammal species.
Of course, the beans collected undergo more processing. But are you wondering why this method even exists? When the coffee cherries are consumed by the civets, the pulp is removed. Without the beans being digested, there’s a fermentation that occurs and gives the coffee the flavour that is responsible for the reputation it enjoys.
Coffee from Indonesia is generally known to be more earthy and has a spiciness to it.
Since a lot of Robusta beans are used, the coffees have strong and bold flavours. Indonesian coffee plants are also grown in volcanic ash, which adds to the flavour profile.
What’s interesting to note is that Indonesia has more than two dozen islands. And as the location changes, so do the nuances of the coffee grown in the respective islands. There can be overlaps in flavour profiles amongst these coffees.
Coffees from Sumatra consist of a heavy body and are foresty in aromas as well as taste. Whereas, Sulawesi coffees can have a buttery mouthfeel along with warm spicy notes.
Those who enjoy dark chocolate undertones in their coffee and beverages should certainly to coffees produced in Java for their pick. Balinese coffees have a silky body and citrusy tones. As you can see, each coffee can have various distinctive tastes and the combination of these traits is what makes the experience of trying out Indonesian coffees unique.
Blue Batak is the name of our single origin coffee from Indonesia. It has malt, hazelnut and blueberry notes with a heavenly vanilla aroma.
Ready to broaden the horizons of your coffee adventure? Try out more coffees from Indonesia starting with our Blue Batak, a single origin that is a must-try!
Also, let us know which country you’d want us to cover next in this series to learn more about the coffee-producing nations of the world.