The Indonesian archipelago is home to more than 17,000 islands and more than 260 million people. With diverse geography (including lush rainforests, volcanic heights, and everything in between), Indonesia has been able to grow some of the most premium coffee on the market.
After the initial failure of growing coffee on the Indonesian islands, the Governor of Jakarta received a gift from the Dutch Governor of Malabar in India; a gift consisting of a shipment of coffee seedlings. Within the next 10 years, these coffee seedlings became the engine for Indonesia’s coffee export economy.
Indonesian coffee production has developed a distinctive, post-harvest process known as ‘giling basah’. This traditional, hybrid process mixes elements from the washed and natural methods, producing a rounder and heavier-bodied coffee, complemented with unique wooden, earth and herbal flavourings.
Giling basah is known to be quite a divisive process in the coffee industry, as coffee produced in other origins and consisting of a similar flavour profile would be rejected by potential buyers. However, the semi-washed process used on Indonesian-grown coffee has continued to receive ample demand within the industry, as it showcases the diverse flavour varieties.
The island of Java has developed a strong reputation for its coffee product, not to mention the strong premiums that Javan coffee has gained throughout the 20th century. The strong, colonial Dutch history and culture in Java, has resulted in the largest coffee estates found in Indonesia. Most Javan coffee is produced on the eastern side of the island, due to the advantageous soil conditions provided by the Ijen volcano. Javan coffee is known for its sweet and smooth flavour profile, with a spicy and smoky hint.
The coffee production in Sulawesi consists mainly of smallholders, who are known to grow both Robusta and Arabica varieties on the island. The local producers continue to use a mix of semi-washed and fully washed processes, which have produced some of the most interesting coffees from the island. Sulawesi coffee has a nutty and chocolatey aroma, and a heavy-bodied texture, with subtle hints of fruit and chocolate.
Coffee arrived in Bali much later than its neighbouring islands, but the Government initiatives in the 1970s and 1980s helped develop the growth of Robusta and Arabica varieties. Balinese coffee now has an international reputation, and most of its coffee exports are purchased by Japan. The mineral-rich volcanic soil and growing practices result in a coffee that has a rich aroma, with wood and smoky flavours.
Located about 320km east of Bali, the small island of Flores is home to several active and dormant volcanoes, which have provided an advantage for the local coffee producers. While coffee from Flores used to be mixed with coffee from other regions, today the island has a unique identity within the coffee atlas. The coffee from Flores has a heavier body, with a flavour profile of floral notes, mixed with hints of chocolate and wood.
Sumatran coffees are known for the earthy, savoury, somewhat vegetal or herbaceous flavour profile, due mainly to the Giling Basah post-harvest process but also the mix varieties are grown and the climate. However, in recent years many coffee estates have been using natural and washed processes and producing outstanding coffees.