Indonesian coffees are renowned for their exceptional flavors, velvety mouthfeel, and earthy tones. Grown in volcanic ash amidst chilis and spices, these coffees have a distinct character that captivates coffee enthusiasts worldwide. The secret lies in the perfect location. Indonesia, composed of over 16,000 mountainous, volcanic islands, including Java, Sumatra, and Sulawesi, offers an ideal environment for coffee cultivation.

The journey of coffee in Indonesia began in the late 1600s when Dutch settlers smuggled seeds from Yemen to the island of Java. The pure bourbon seeds thrived, and by the early 1700s, Java was exporting arabica beans commercially. The Dutch colonists expanded coffee plantations across eastern Java’s Ijen Plateau and other Indonesian islands, including Sulawesi, Bali, Timor, and Sumatra. Concurrently, the Portuguese introduced a different cultivar of arabica on East Timor and Flores islands. In the 1920s, coffee production flourished as small landholders took charge, and in 1945, foreign-held plantations were nationalized after Indonesia gained independence from the Dutch.

Today, Indonesia is among the world’s top coffee producers, with over 90% of coffee grown naturally by small landholders on plots no larger than 2.5 acres. Traditional farming techniques, such as the coffee wet-hulling method known as giling basah, are still prevalent, accentuating the deep, earthy flavors and rich texture of Indonesian coffee. Each Indonesian island brings its unique nuances to the cup.

Let’s explore some of the captivating coffees from Indonesia:

BALI: Nestled between the Indian Ocean and Java and Flores seas, Bali is not only known for its stunning landscapes and rich biodiversity but also produces the coveted kopi luwak or civet coffee. Grown near Mount Batur volcano in northeastern Kintamani, Balinese coffee offers complexity with a silky body, low acidity, and strong woody tones complemented by delicately spiced citrus notes.

FLORES: This small jewel of an island boasts breathtaking mountain ranges, fertile volcanic ash soil, and an optimal climate for growing exceptional coffee. Flores coffee, cross-bred with seeds from Java, offers uniquely sweet chocolate, floral, and earthy notes. Shade-grown on small farms at high altitudes, Flores coffee is both sustainable and naturally-grown.

JAVA: Considered the birthplace of Indonesian coffee, Java’s arabica exports are now dominated by small farms. Grown naturally on eastern Java’s Ijen Plateau, Javanese coffee absorbs the nutrients and flavors of its volcanic soil, resulting in a rich, full-bodied brew with dark chocolate undertones and spicy chili overtones. Javas have a molasses-like texture and a slightly higher acidity compared to other Indonesian coffees.

PAPUA: Located in the western half of New Guinea, Papua offers coffee from two primary regions: Baliem Valley in the central highlands and Kamu Valley in the Nabire Region. Organically-grown under a natural shade canopy, Papua coffee delights with a syrupy mouthfeel, a rich chocolate base, and sweet spiced-maple upper notes.

SULAWESI: Also known as Celebes, Sulawesi is the world’s eleventh-largest island and offers a uniquely shaped geography with soaring mountain ranges. Most of Sulawesi’s arabica coffee is grown in the Tana Toraja highlands, resulting in a smooth and earthy cup with deep spice and sweet nutty tones, concluding with a bright finish.

SUMATRA: As the largest of the Sunda Islands, Sumatra is Indonesia’s top producer of arabica coffee. Sumatran coffees are highly sought after for their intense flavors, thick creamy texture, and complex profile. With notes of deep chocolate, chili, sweet fruit, cedar, tobacco, and earth, Sumatra’s coffee is a sensory adventure. The Gayo region centered around Aceh and the Lintong district southwest of Lake Toba are the primary coffee growing regions on Sumatra.

Explore the captivating world of Indonesian coffee and savor the diverse flavors that each island has to offer. From the volcanic soils to the traditional farming techniques, every cup tells a story of Indonesia’s rich coffee heritage.