Indonesia, a country known for its rich culture and diverse landscapes, is also home to a vibrant coffee industry. With a history dating back to the 17th century, Indonesian coffee has carved out a unique space in the global coffee scene.
The History of Indonesian Coffee
Coffee cultivation in Indonesia began in the late 1600s and early 1700s, during the early Dutch colonial period. The Dutch governor in Malabar (India) sent arabica coffee seedlings from Yemen to the Dutch governor of Batavia (now Jakarta) in 1696. Despite initial challenges, the plants thrived, and by 1711, the first exports were sent from Java to Europe. Indonesia was the first place outside of Arabia and Ethiopia where coffee was widely cultivated.
Indonesian Coffee Production
Indonesia was the fourth-largest producer of coffee in the world in 2014. In 2022, it was estimated that Indonesia produced approximately 794.8 thousand metric tons of coffee. The country’s geographical and climatological conditions make it well-suited for coffee plantations, with numerous interior mountainous regions on its main islands creating well-suited microclimates for the growth and production of coffee.
The majority of coffee grown in Indonesia is Robusta, known for its high caffeine content and disease resistance. However, about 25% of Indonesian coffee is Arabica, known for its fine flavor qualities.
Indonesian Coffee Varieties
Indonesia offers a variety of specialty coffees. Some of the most popular varieties include:
- S795: One of the most common coffee varieties in Indonesia. Introduced to the Indonesian coffee sector in the 1970s from India, it is commonly found in both Bali and Toraja (where locals also call it Jember). It has distinct flavor notes of maple syrup and brown sugar when brewed.
- Tim Tim: Stands for Timor Timur, a region in southern Indonesia.
- Kopi Luwak: Known as one of the most expensive coffees for several important reasons.
- Sumatra Mandheling: Known for its curiously complex notes of tobacco, cocoa, smoke, cedar, and a hint of earthiness.
- Sulawesi Toraja Coffee: Grown in small, high-altitude farms resulting in a cleaner yet spicier cup.
Indonesian coffees are known for their dark and bold flavor profile, with a prominent earthiness. The semi-wash process creates tasting notes ranging from earthy, mustiness, spice, wood, tobacco and leather. They often have a long-lasting finish that feels like unsweetened or dark cocoa.
Indonesian Coffee Culture
Drinking coffee has become a tradition and part of everyday life for Indonesian people that cannot be skipped. In major cities like Jakarta, Bandung, Surabaya and Medan, numerous international coffee shop chains and cafes operate in shopping malls and office buildings. But the genuine coffee culture is observable on the street level. Street vendors sell everything from coffee candies to instant coffee for those who missed out on their morning coffee routines.
Indonesian coffee offers a unique blend of history, culture, and taste that sets it apart on the global stage. Whether you’re a casual coffee drinker or a connoisseur, there’s an Indonesian coffee waiting to be discovered by you.