A Quick Guide To Indonesian Coffee And Which Beans To Try
When it comes to coffee, we often think of the well-known producing countries in South America and Africa, but there’s a hidden gem in the coffee world – Indonesia. As one of the top coffee producers in the world, it’s time to give this country the attention it deserves. The diverse landscape of Indonesia allows for a wide range of coffee varieties to thrive, including Arabica and Robusta, and the beans produced here are of exceptional quality. One of the things that set Indonesian coffee apart is the unique flavors attributed to them. The beans grown here are influenced by the country’s climate and the landscape itself, resulting in some very distinct tastes that are rarely found in other coffees. If you’re a coffee lover, you owe it to yourself to try Indonesian coffee. So next time you’re browsing for beans at your local coffee shop, don’t overlook the coffee beans from Bali, Sumatra, or Java, as these could be a wonderful new treat.
Origins Of Coffee Growing In Indonesia
It was actually the Dutch that first brought coffee to Indonesia during the colonial era. In fact, the Dutch have a rich history in the coffee industry, and thanks to them, the western world has coffee today. Arabica coffee plants were the first plants to be brought in by the Dutch East India Company. This was initially done to shatter the Arabic world’s monopoly in the coffee trade, which would ultimately make this a much more common commodity, dropping the price but increasing the customer base. Coffee was first planted in the area surrounding modern-day Jakarta. The Dutch East India Company continued to expand its growing coffee industry and monopolized the coffee trade for most of the 1700s. These plantations quickly spread to places like Java and Sumatra over the years.
The Coffee Industry Of Indonesia Today
While the country was once the biggest player in the coffee trade, the 19th and 20th centuries saw Indonesia dealt a few major blows, causing it to drop off the top spot. In 1876, coffee rust disease plagued the country, wiping out many of the original cultivars. Robusta coffee was introduced after this, which is stronger and more resistant to diseases. It also generally produces a higher yield of coffee beans compared to the Arabica variant. Today, Indonesia is the fourth largest producer of coffee beans, making coffee one of the country’s most valuable exports.
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Which Beans Should You Try?
There are a variety of different beans grown in Indonesia today, and each provides the drinker with some significant variations in flavor. Any coffee lover will agree that coffee isn’t simply just coffee. The places it is grown, as well as the methods farmers use to grow it, can all have a significant impact on the way in which the beans taste. Not only that, but the specific types of coffee beans that fall under either Arabica or Robusta will have distinct flavor profiles, too. Here are some of the regions in Indonesia that grow coffee and what you can expect from the beans they produce there.
Our first pick has to be Sumatra, which boasts a great variety of coffee beans that are said to be some of the most sought-after coffees in Indonesia. One of the best coffees produced on the island of Sumatra is mandheling coffee. This coffee is produced via the Catimor and Typica variety of arabica coffee plants, and the coffee itself has a woody, earthy, and herbal taste to it. Other types of Sumatran coffees include Lintong, which offers a more chocolatey and nutty taste, Gayo which is said to be more citrusy, and Aceh, which shares similar chocolate notes to Lintong but with a more earthy element to the profile.
The island of Sulawesi is another great place to get coffee beans, but it is somewhat of an outlier when it comes to popular choice. Coffee aficionados, however, will have likely tried a smoky and full-bodied Sulawesi coffee, and these have even become a favorite choice among certain coffee lovers. The Toraja beans are grown on the south of the island and are said to be well-balanced and smooth tasting with a slight spiciness to them. Similarly, the Tana Toraja are grown nearby and lack the distinct flavors of spice that the Toraja provides.
Finally, we would be remiss if we didn’t mention Bali’s coffee production. Again, Bali also generally grows arabica beans, and some types include Kintamani coffee, which has a fruity palate and a somewhat citrusy scent, and Sidikalang coffee which has a slight caramel taste to it. There is also one very notable type of coffee that, at first thought, can turn the stomach. Kopi Luwak is a type of coffee that is cultivated in Bali. It has a very rich aroma and taste and can sell for over $150 per pound. This is predominantly due to how little of it is produced due to its strange farming method. These beans are farmed by civets, a mammal native to Asia and Africa. When we say farm, however, we actually mean eaten, digested, and defecated by these civets. Of course, it’s worth mentioning that many advocate against drinking Kopi Luwak, understandably, due to the poor treatment of the animals used to produce it.
There you have it, a quick guide to Indonesian coffee and what beans you should try first!