Coffee of the World

Indonesian Coffee Guide & Culture

Coffee has been grown in Indonesia for centuries and is now one of the largest coffee exports in the world and increasing in popularity as a drink in the country. Indonesia’s coffee culture is rich and deeply rooted in tradition and history.

A few things that make Indonesia’s coffee culture unique are its deep history, unique tasting coffee beans, different varieties of coffee, and its emphasis on quality over quantity.

You may have heard of the Kopi Luwak coffee, one of the most expensive coffees in the world, that is actually produced in Indonesia. 

Indonesia is also perfectly situated on the coffee belt; a unique section of the globe that provides the perfect growing conditions for coffee.

In this Indonesian coffee guide, we are going to have a look at the history, coffee types, regions, and more.

Indonesian Coffee Culture | A Brief History

It was Dutch and Portuguese colonizers who introduced coffee to Indonesia in the late 16th to early 17th century. The Dutch brought coffee plants from Yemen while the Portuguese brought them from Ethiopia (where coffee was said to be discovered).

Coffee plants spread across the hundreds of Indonesian islands through trade and curiosity, where plantations started to emerge and different regions produced their own varieties of coffee. With different altitudes and conditions, unique varieties of coffee could be grown.

The coffee type originally grown in Indonesia was arabica, that was until a disease spread across countries, known as ‘coffee rust‘, ruined the coffee plants. This forced the Dutch to bring in the robusta species which is more hardy against coffee rust, and now dominates a large percentage of the Indonesian coffee growth.

The introduction of coffee in Indonesia has led to a significant change in Indonesian culture and society. However, it has also been influenced by other cultures such as Indian, Chinese, and the Western world.

Coffee culture in Indonesia is a mixture of tradition and modernity. While some people can trace their coffee traditions to the 16th century, others are more recent arrivals to Indonesia who have adapted to local customs and culture.

Indonesia the Land of Coffee | Production & Consumption

Indonesia is the land of coffee and according to Wikipedia, it is the 4th largest coffee producing country in the world, producing roughly 660,000 metric tons of coffee. Plus it has always been the nation’s most popular drink.

It is said that roughly 25% of coffee exported from Indonesia is Arabica beans (due to the coffee rust disease), the rest is Robusta. 

Coffee Consumption in Indonesia (Statista)

Strangely, although Indonesia is one of the largest exporters of coffee, they do not compare to other countries when it comes to consuming their own brew. The top 10 countries for coffee consumption are in Europe and the US itself. This could be down to the tropical climate, as no one wants to consume hot coffee on a hot day.

However, as you can also see in the chart above, the consumption of coffee in Indonesia is on the rise.

Growing Coffee in Indonesia

Coffee is grown all over Indonesia with each location providing different conditions that produce different and unique coffee beans. The most popular coffee-growing regions are Java, Sumatra, Bali, and Sulawesi. Located on the coffee belt, Indonesia is one of the best places in the world to grow and produce coffee.

Check out Indonesia coffee growing locations.

Let’s take a brief look at the different locations:

Sumatran Coffee

Sumatra is located to the North and is close to Singapore, it also crosses the equator meaning that the island has parts in the Northern hemisphere and parts in the south. 

It provides a unique climate and excellent soil quality that is well suited to growing Arabica beans. You may have seen Sumatran coffee beans in your local Starbucks. That’s because they stock huge amounts of this popular Indonesian coffee bean. 

Sumatran coffee is usually harvested with a wet-hulling method and has a very earthy taste. The three most popular types of coffee beans from Sumatra are Mandheling, GayoPeaberry, and Lintong.

Java Coffee

The actual term Java (slang for coffee) is derived from Java Coffee. Java is located southeast of Sumatra with the coffee farms being around 1,200-1,500 meters above sea level.

The coffee grown here can have a strong chocolatey taste and is slightly heavier bodied than other coffees. Java coffee is actually used in a blend with Yemen Mocha coffee, to create Mocha Java coffee.

The harvesting process uses wet-washing and the most popular beans to get are Java Taman Dadar and Mocha Java.

Bali Coffee

Bali is a smaller island located in the South of Indonesia and to the east of Java. It is a volcanic region full of elevation and tropical climates, perfect for coffee growth. 

Bali is actually extremely popular for the Kopi Luwak (cat poop) coffee. This is mainly because Bali is one of the biggest tourist destinations, as Kopi Luwak can be found in other regions of Indonesia. This coffee involves the Asia Palm Civet eating coffee cherries where they ferment in the stomach of the animal, then when excreted, they are washed and used to make Kopi Luwak coffee.

However, Bali also produces other great-tasting coffee that maybe doesn’t get noticed as much – Kintamani, Lanang Coffee, and Wamena Coffee.

Sulawesi

Also known as Celebes Kalossi Coffee, this coffee region is located in central Indonesia. It is grown in the ancient Toraja region where some of the plants/trees are centuries old. The coffee produced here has a creamy body and syrupy sweet taste.

It is lighter than Sumatran coffee and has less acidity. However, the coffee grown here is much more lucrative than in other regions listed above. It may be harder to come across these beans and cost slightly more to purchase them.

There are of course many other regions that grow coffee in Indonesia which we will look at in future articles.

Processing Coffee

Every region and farm in Indonesia will have its own harvesting and processing methods. Most of the farms use the Giling Basah processing method which is derived from Japan and is said to enhance the flavors of the coffee. This method is more physically demanding and involves separating the beans by hand and allowing them to sun-dry. They are then hulled whilst still retaining some moisture, and allowed to sun-dry for a further 7 days.

Coffee Taste

You can’t conclude a specific taste of Indonesian coffee as every bean is different, however, there are certain characteristics that are associated with the flavors of Indonesian coffee:

  • Mainly have an earthy flavor
  • Some boast chocolatey and syrupy notes
  • Mostly full-bodied and creamy
  • Most beans are darker roasted

Our top pick for Indonesian coffee beans is those from Sumatra. They provide a unique taste and have a full-bodied creamy texture.

Indonesian Coffee Culture

Coffee consumption has been growing at a rapid pace in Indonesia. This is because the culture of coffee is deeply ingrained in Indonesian society and it is highly accessible. Not to mention the ever-growing tourism sector that accommodates coffee fanatics who need their caffeine kick.

A popular cultural aspect of coffee in Indonesia is the Indonesian Javanese Coffee Ceremony.

A Javanese Coffee Ceremony is a ritualistic act of preparing and serving coffee in Java, Indonesia. It is a complex process that involves many steps and rituals. This includes the roasting of beans, brewing with water, and boiling milk and sugar together for several hours before serving.

The Different Coffee Drinks of Indonesia

Indonesian coffee has been evolving over the last decade with a focus on quality and innovation. This is due to the proliferation of coffee shops, cafes, and small coffee roasters’ in Indonesia. Again, the increase in tourism has also had a part to play in this.

The country’s best brews have also been innovating with new ways of making coffee and finding new opportunities for growth through internationalization. One of the reasons why Indonesia has a unique coffee culture is that they not only serve plain brewed coffee but they incorporate herbs and spices in their brew.

1. Kopi Luwak

Indonesian coffee culture, which is often called Kopi Luwak or Civet Coffee, has spread around the world and it is now a popular drink worldwide. It is popularly recognized as one of the most expensive coffee in the world.

The most popular way to drink Indonesian Coffee is by making a Kopi Luwak with milk and sugar. This beverage has been found to have health benefits such as reducing stress levels, boosting immunity, and improving memory retention.

2. Kopi Tubruk

The most popular coffee drink in Indonesia is Kopi Tubruk. This is simply brewed coffee with sugar. 

3. Kopi Tarik

A special Aceh Arabica brewed coffee with sugar, Kopi Tarik (pulled coffee) is made through a unique “pulling” process. This brewed coffee is poured through a cotton strainer over and over again to produce a rich and thick cup of joe. 

4. Kopi Jahe

Kopi Jahe is a brewed coffee fused with palm sugar and ginger. You can find this coffee in the heartland of Indonesia – Java. Kopi Jahe is known to be good herbal medicine for alleviating flu.

5. Kopi Joss

What makes Kopi Joss remarkable is the way Indonesians create the “baked” flavor of this special coffee. While the coffee is being brewed, they immerse a piece of burning charcoal into the coffee to give it that distinct taste. 

This special coffee can be found on the roadside of Yogyakarta, Java.

6. Kopi Bumbu

When the Middle Eastern people immigrated to Indonesia several years ago, they brought with them a special kind of coffee, one that is infused with spices. This spiced coffee is called Kopi Bumbu and it is blended with cardamom, cinnamon, clove, and sugar. 

7. Kopi Sereh

Lemongrass is a very popular perennial grass that is used by several Asian countries to make aromatic and flavorful dishes. In Indonesia, the infusion of lemongrass is not only limited to their recipe but they also add it to their coffee and they call it Kopi Sereh or lemongrass coffee. 

8. Kopi Kahwa

Kopi Kahwa is a popular coffee brew found in some areas in Sumatra like West Sumatra. Kopi Kahwa is created by steeping coffee leaves in hot water. This unique infusion creates a subtle coffee flavor. 

How Do Indonesians Drink Their Coffee?

Indonesians like their coffee sweet. The most popular coffee drink amongst the Indonesian people is the Kopi Tubruk. This is similar to Turkish coffee and contains finely ground coffee boiled with sugar.

How Much Does Coffee Cost in Indonesia

A standard cup of black coffee would set you back between $0.50-$1 in Indonesia. Other coffee drinks can go as high as $3 and maybe even $5 if you choose a high-end restaurant/cafe. Generally coffee and food in Indonesia are cheap.

The Final Sip

Indonesian coffee is rapidly growing in the US and Europe. People admire the Indonesian coffee culture is that it has a strong connection with traditional values such as family, religion, and hospitality.

Indonesian coffee culture also has unique flavors that are not found in other countries. The roasting and brewing process are key factors that distinguish their coffee from other countries’ coffees. Check out this article on Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee.

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