Coffee in Indonesia – History – Types – How to Brew
Coffee. Who doesnt know about coffee? Its a profitable business because the real customers will consume that a lot. So, how about coffee from Indonesia? Is it a good one like coffee from another country? For now, we’re not gonna talk only about how good Indonesia coffee is, but also the history – type of coffee – about the plantation – processing behind that! Sounds interesting, right? So you the coffee lover, are you ready to know about how wonderful the Indonesia coffee is? So, check it out!
First thing we have to know is coffee not Indonesian native plant but it was bought by VOC when they colonized Indonesia around 17th century. The Dutch colonial government intially planted coffee around Jakarta and as far as south as in Sukabumi and Bogor. Later, coffee plantation were also established in East Java, Central Java, West Java, and some part of Sumatra and Sulawesi. Coffee has big affect to infrastructure in Central Java during 19th century; and government built roads and railways which needed to transport the coffee beans from the island interior to the ports where coffee loaded on ship and exported.
Why Dutch bought coffee to Indonesia? Certainly because they want to expand their business and become biggest coffee producer in worldwide. In the early 17th century, Dutch already successful to invent their own coffee which known as Arabica coffee. The Dutch obtained some coffee bushes from Yemen and grown also thrived in the green houses of Amsterdam Botanical Garden. This successful event have a big effect in global production. Arabica coffee was planted in 1750, where first time in Sumatra in 1888 and followed by Gayo Highland (Aceh) which near Laut Tawar Lake in 1924.
VOC was exported Indonesian coffee first in 1711 and Indonesia become huge coffee exporter in worldwide which they can export up to 60 tonnes each year. Indonesian coffee were very famous in Europe which also known as “black drinks: a cup of Java” and until mid 19 th century, the Javanese coffee considered as one of best coffee in the world. For about 175 years, Javanese coffee become only commercial type of coffee which grown in Indonesia. But its become different in the end of 19th century because the development of Javanese coffee suffered for severe set backs due to leaft rust diseases (Homilera vasatrix). But hey dont worry we still can found this type of coffee in some places, such as at Ijen plateau (Banyuwangi, East Java), Tanah Toraja (South Sulawesi), Bukit Barusan (Sumatra), Mandhailing – Lintong – Sadiklalang (North Sumatra) and in the central highland of Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam.
After a while, the embossed leaf rust diseases that attack Arabica species, the Dutch government brought a new coffee species which named Liberika. However, after planted and harvested, productivity of Liberica is too low and not good as Arabica or Robusta. Futhermore, the Dutch brought Robusta coffee from Congo, Africa in 1900s and this type is more resistant to leaf rust diseases also have better productivity than Liberica. In the 1920, the government established coffee plant research center in Java who tasked to develop and examine the types of Arabica and Robusta coffee.
Along with time and development technology, Robusta and Arabica coffee who has undergone crossing among varieties and produce some hybrids of clone. The Liberica cherries still can be found throughout Java, but its seldom used as commercial crop in Indonesia. Robusta sell makes up around 90% of the coffee production is in the hands of small farmers of cooperatives.
There are three main districts in Indonesia that produces Indonesian coffee. Each regions produces varying flavors of coffee beans due to soil content, cultivation methods, and geographical locations. So the main region coffee producer in Indonesia are:
Java is largest coffee producer also known to produce some top quality of Arabica beans. The beans which we can get from Java is can be stored for two until three years and give us fuller and rich taste. Arabica coffeeis most suited to altitudes over 1,500 meters and grow well in temperatures around 16-20 degrees celcius. Beside that, Arabica plants is tend to be more prone to diseases so the farmer must pay close attention to the plant while theyre growing.
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Coffee which produced in Sulawesi is bit different with coffee from Java because they still use “dry method” for processing those coffee beans. This method is belong into traditional one because its still need to dry coffee beans using large tarp to dried beneath the sun and can taking several weeks. Its also need to be turned every two hours and done by hand which means need great effort until we can get good quality of this coffee. But in the end its gonna be really worth because the coffee is full bodied, sweet, and smooth.
The most famous coffee which growing in Sulawesi region is Toraja, where the coffee grows in mountainous area near the center of the island, especially 1,500 meters above sea level. Toraja Arabica is one of coffee beans with caramelized aroma also crisp and clean after taste. The low annual yield of Toraja Arabica make this coffee highly sought after by coffee connoisseurs world wide. Theres very limited supply of Toraja Arabica coffee in the world because of the cultivation practices and conditions.
Sumatra is the island in Indonesia which become biggest producer of another coffee type which is Mandheiling and Ankola. Sumatra Mandheling coffee is produced outside the city of Padang and has own unique characteristic which are low key acidity, heavy, almost syrupy, also has complex flavor. Those coffee beans mostly procuced in West Sumatra and processed by dry processed also renewed for their unique and rich flavor.
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2. Various Types of Indonesian Coffee
A suitable location and pleasant climate make Indonesia as one country which provide us a good quality of coffee. And as we know, coffee not only for consumer’s delight of drinking but also for its economic value for the coffee beans producing and exporting countries. There are many coffee plantations spread in Indonesia regions and each of them has unique characteristics and different kind of coffee. And what are type of coffee which produced in Indonesia?
a. Java coffee
Its well known as Arabica coffee which the production began in 17th century by the Dutch. Javanese coffee beans can be stored in warehouses for two until three years and resulting in a strengthening of the coffee’s body and taste also increasing the sweetness and weaking the acidety. This coffee beans also undergo a destinct color change from their original green to alight brown color. Java Arabica coffee is also commonly used in the traditional blend called Mocha-Java along with Yemen Mocha Coffee.
b. Civet coffee
This type is also known as Kopi Luwak and belong to as most expensive coffee. Beside being expensive, this coffee steps production bit strange. Why? Because the coffee beans should be eaten first by the mongoose and the civet droppings containing undigested coffee beans which not taken. Many people said the fermentation of the coffee make the taste more soft and exotic. Drink Kopi Luwak is harmless to our body than another coffee variety because those coffee beans are washed, roasted, and brewed before it lands in our coffee cups.
And what make this coffee as expensive one? The supply from wild civet cats is limited even it can produced about 50 tons Kopi Luwak each years, but the condition in civet farms are often very poor. The animals which being caged also forced to feed on provided coffee beans from bowl. Sometimes the civets can no longer select the ripest and the highest quality of coffee beans as they do in the forest.
Here the further information with visual explanation about Civet Coffee
c. Sumatra Mandheiling coffee
Sumatra Mandheiling coffee is grown on the lofty volcanic slopes of Mount Lewet near Padang in the Balak region of west-central Sumatra. This coffee beans has unique method and its production also known as Giling Basah which involves hulling the patchment off the beans at roughly 50% moisture content while most other process hull coffee at around 10-12% moisture.
Mandheiling coffee have very prominent spicy flavour and medium roast will always retain most of the nuanced spice flavour. The strong, spicy flavour stay true into darker roast better than most other coffee beans. Sumatra Mandheiling also great coffee for brewed speciality coffee drinks (espresso) and can takes milks or cream without loss of its own flavour.
Here the further information with visual explanation about Sumatran Coffee
d. Toraja coffee
If you’re looking for an exclusive coffee tasting, stunning coffee beans with unique also balance taste, Toraja coffee is the right choice for your own coffee. Toraja coffee ranked the second as best Indonesian coffee after Kopi Luwak. This coffee particularly special for people love dark roasted coffee. The history of this coffee began from Netherlands’ inovasion era hundreds years ago.
First coffee is planted in South Sulawesi, in highland Toraja which is the perfect highland area for coffee plantation. Futhermore, this Arabica Toraja coffee is spread out to other areas in South Sulawesi including Kalosi. Almost 95% Toraja coffee is cultivated by the coffee farmers in the small private coffee plantation.
This coffee is very popular in Japan, United States, and Germany. In Japan, this coffee is considered as premium drinks. Unlike Javanese or Sumatra Arabica coffee, Toraja coffee has a brighter flavour thats used with spiced and earthy characteristics. Toraja coffee tends to have a relatively low-toned yet vibrant acidity, through usually slightly more adicic and with less body than Sumatra and Javanese. Processing of Toraja coffee is done by the Giling-Basah method.
Here the further information with visual explanation about Toraja Coffee
e. Gayo Aceh coffee
This coffee comes from Gayo highlands of central Aceh, the province at the northen most of Sumatra. The Gayo coffee also Arabica beans which grow in the mountain basin that surrounds Lake Tawar and lovely town of Takengon. Although not as famous as the Linthong or Mandheiling coffee, Gayo coffee also can be considered as one of the most premium coffee beans in the world because the fine aroma and pretty low bitter taste. Due to its strong characteristics, this coffee often added to coffee blend to increase aroma and body to the blend. The soil, the landscape and the climate of the area contribute to various rich characteristics, strong body, and complex flavors of the coffee.
Here the further information with visual explanation about Gayo Aceh coffee.
3. Coffee Plantation
Theres no doubt if Indonesia become third largest producer of coffee and fourth largest exporter in worlwide. As we talked before, coffee isnt Indonesian native plants but its become special one because of Indonesia uncommon microclimate also their sea winds and humadity.
Coffee Arabica in Indonesia accounts for 75-80% of the world’s production. The coffee plantation grow to heights of 10 meters and normally the tress are pruned to a reasonable height for easy harvesting.
Like we know, coffee plantation usually do by farmers and we usually know that a s traditional method. But do you know if we also can do that by ourselves? Before we start plant coffee seeds, we have to make sure if the soil have good structure, permeable, and deep one. We need a good soil so the roots can penetrate as well also the roots can go down deep. With this method, the trees are most often planted in haphazard way which means the tree not planted in rows and need some spaces between them. We have to watch it carefuly about the distance because when its too close it will grow badly and when its too far, it wont use all the soil – so the best choice is to give distance 3 meters each plant.
We also need to digging it before spread the seeds and we need to prepare this two months before start planting it. we have to remember if the hole should be about 50 cm long, 50 cm wide, and 50 cm deep. Its better to do this plantation during rainy season and choose the day after its has rained a lot also when the sky is cloudy. When its already grown up and become young coffee tress, we need to protect those from sunshine because they dont like it too much sun even they need it to grow in shade. When we want to do this in dry desert regions with many wind blows, we need to protect this young coffee trees by aline of trees.
Can we grow coffee beside use that traditional method? The answer is absolutely yes! There are some alternative techniques we can try which simpler. So what are they? But wait, before we do this technique, we need to germinating this coffee beans first. There are two methods in coffee beans germination process, which are coffee seeds germinated by spreading on a sand bed and covering with moist burlap bags sacks or straw and we have to watch it eventually to removed the radical emerge. The second method is mix the seeds with expanded polystyrene and keep in polythene bag. The coffee seeds will grown in nursery beds or polybags and ready to plant in coffee fields when they reach 20-40 centimeters. And how we start plant with another techniques?
- Nursery beds
After the coffee beans being pregerminated, we can plant the coffee seeds containing soil consisting of well rooted and phospate fertilizer. Those nursery beds should be built to 1 meter wide and 50 cm deep which the seddiness are spared between 12-15 cm apart or 20 cm. The nursery beds have to be shaded around 50% for the first couple months and will be reduced slowly and completely removed the last two months before planting coffee seedlings.
Polybags which made from black diothene are commonly used and filled with a mixture of top soil, well rooted cattle manure, gravel, coffee pulp, and coffee husks. The top of the polybags will be dressing by nitrogen which come from 20 grams urea in 5,01 water per meter of bed.
4. How to Brew Indonesian Coffee
To get a good quality coffee which be served in our cup is need a long time to consuming. We should know if roasting and drinking recently picked coffee isn’t such as pleasant experience because they tend to have very wild, green taste to them, although an experience taster can judge whether the coffee will subsequently develop greatness or not once it has tested. Usually, we can harvest coffee in Indonesia from June to December but its incorporates with Robusta and Arabica production. There are some techniques we can try while harvesting some coffee which are:
- Stripping: The branch s ripped off all fruits, both ripe and unripe also the flower.
- Combing: with a special comb with smooth and spaced teeth. The ripe red berries fall off while the green berries stay longer.
- Mechanical: tractors with combs not only remove the berries but also the flowers and the leaves.
- Picking: only the ripe berries are hand-picked.
After the coffee being harvested, the process isn’t stop on that because we still have something to do. And whats that? Yeah the answer is right, we still have to processing this coffee and there’s 3 available methods we can used. The various techniques of processing coffee will impact the final flavor of the end of the product. So, who are they?
- Dry process
This method is also known as unwashed or natural process where the newly harvested coffee cherries are spread evenly and raked regularly throghout the day. It could take up until four weeks in the sun before the cherries are free of excess moisture. Theres some keys to make this method success which are the knowledge of the farmers and the mills. Its important to remember to dried the cherries in correct degree because over drying will make those coffee beans produce a bad roast. Its also can carry too much water because those coffee beans will be prone to attack from bacteria and fungi.
- Semi-dry process
This is a relatively new method of processing coffee beans which commonly used in Indonesia and Brazil. The result of this process is a brew that heavy bodied, earthy, and mildly acidic. Coffee in Sumatra are traditionally processed using this method which known as Giling Basah (wet-hulling method). Usually, the coffee which processed through this method tend to be describe as herbareous, spicy, wild, funk, and so on. Many drinkers of Sumatran coffee enjoy what they feel are smoother also fuller-bodied result. The hulled coffee beans are dried to 12-15% which left in the sun during the day and can be stored on bags inside over night to continue fermentation.
- Wet process
Its also known as unwashed process which use to reduce the acidity of a coffee and provine more balanced cup with quite fruity and lively flavor. Theres two methods which exist for this process which are the cherries scrubbed in the machine until theyre fall from the coffee beans or when the cherries being fermented and this process breaks the pulp down to the free beans. After the coffee beans have been seperated, theyre ready to be dried.
5. Indonesian Coffee Nowadays
Indonesia speciality in coffee isnt secret anymore and its become people’s favorite in worldwide. Its strengthen by statement from I Gde Pitana, deputy for foreign tourism development at the ministry who said Indonesia has various types of coffee and become favorite for all people. Futhermore, he think if its become for Indonesia to promote their own culture.
Jahar Gultom, the Indonesian consul general in Kuching, added if he hope this event (Indonesia-Serawak coffee festival) will be regular event and can strengthen the partnership between Indonesia and Malaysia. The data from Ministry of Agriculture also shows that Malaysia imported 106,555 tons of Indonesia coffee in 2015 (Jakarta Globe, 2017).
Its not only one event which shows that Indonesian coffee already successful to attracted another countries. Recently, theres a barter between Indonesia and Russia through exchange of eleven Sukhoi SU-35 S with some Indonesian commodities, like palm oil and coffee. Indonesian trade minister, Enggartiasto Lukita hopes this barter will expand Indonesia’s partnership with Russia and also promote more about their commodities. Indonesia is still trying to expand their partnership through tourism, education, energy, technology, and aviation among others (Reuters, 2017).
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Not only famous become some events, Indonesian coffee also popular because of one city in Bandawasa, East Java which considered as a new title: The Republic of Coffee. This place also strategic one because its only one hour from Bandawasa and we will be attracted by the beautiful mountains around it. At Selencak mini farm and coffee processing in Sukorgo village, you cant only taste Java Ijen Raung (Arabica coffee from Bandawasa) but also view the process of the coffee from coffee fruit into coffee powder and the local government name this city as Republic of Coffee in May 2016.
The coffee farmer Muali, also the owner of Selencat mini farm is planted Arabica coffee which is more demand by foreigners and he start it for pas seven years and has 3 hectares of coffee plantation. Meanwhile, Bandawasa has 10,600 hectares of plantation with a production capacity of 3,427 tons. Unique points from this place also attracted some tourists who come from another countries, which include Spain, England, Netherlands, Australia, United States, Thailand, Singapore, Taiwan, China, and Saudi Arabia. They come for see the process of the coffee and the plantation also they curious about the place which produce best coffee in world wide (Jakarta Globe, 2017)
And that what we know about Indonesian coffee Sounds interesting, right? So, enjoy your Indonesian coffee cup!