Coffee from Indonesia is known for its kicking strong flavours. There’s a story behind it, people! A lot of flavours behind it and more you’ll soon find out if you keep reading this.
The biggest producers in Indonesia, the best farm to cup coffee would come from three different regions or three different islands. Sulawesi, Sumatra, and Java. Out of the three islands, Java coffee has the brightest acidity with a clean aftertaste, and a hint of something fruity and they’re Arabica coffee beans. However, the commonly used coffee for commercial grade percentage of Robusta coffee from Indonesia is now up to 90%.
Arabica coffee was first planted and brought by the Dutch in the 17th century when at the time, the Dutch occupied the land. They wanted to grow coffee and export it all over the world, they wanted to win over the Arab monopoly on coffee trade.
The very first place the Dutch planted the coffee was in South Bogor, Sukabumi, and Batavia or is known by the name Jakarta now, the capital city of Indonesia. The plantation was established in the West, East, and Central part of Java. To make the wide plantation possible, the forested land had to be cleared, diminished and cultivated. Little did they know, the plantation of coffee has a role in developing Central Java’s infrastructure throughout the 19th century.
Railways, trains, roads, were built and constructed so the coffee beans could be transported easily to a different island or different ports so the coffee could be exported all over the world, but most importantly to send the coffee to the Dutch or we call it the Netherlands now.
Traditional Coffee Processing
The most common coffee processing all over the world would be natural processed, washed processed, and semi-washed processed. However, Indonesia has its own kind of coffee processing which is very traditional and goes a long way back! It’s called wet hulling or giling basah. Once the coffee cherries are ripe and ready to be picked, it will be depulped and dried. Most coffee processing dry the coffee to a moisture content of 11 up to 12 percent, but giling basah could go up to 30 percent. Then the coffee will be hulled to be stripped off their parchments and collect the green coffee beans.
Once the green coffee beans are collected they will be dried once again until it’s enough to be stored without rotting or without humidity. This traditional method resulting in a low acidity and with a thicker body.
Classic and earthy, that’s how people know Indonesian coffee. It always has its unique flavour; bold and earthy. Some people would refer to dark tones, in a good way! Because earthy flavours could content the taste of spice, wood, tobacco, and leather. Yes, they might not sound very appealing to you who have never tried Indonesian coffee. You’ll be surprised once you try it though! It could leave you a dark cocoa aftertaste in your mouth as well.
Sumatra is popular for its dark roasting lately. The best coffee they use for dark roasting would be Mandheling and Alonka. Mandheling is the commonly known coffee beans from Sumatra because there are lots of local coffee shops that use Mandheling in their hopper. They could be a little smokey, but embrace it and you’ll find yourself overwhelmed.
Indonesian coffee could be found almost, almost.. everywhere. Ask the barista what coffee beans they’re serving now, and if they don’t have any Indonesian coffee, it could be seasonal! So just wait, although most of the time some coffee shops are likely to have Indonesian coffee.