Coffee in Indonesia: an Overview
To first understand how Indonesian coffee works, it’s important to first understand the country of Indonesia – a country so vast and diverse that it is the only single-origin section devoted entirely to just one country.
First, geography: Indonesia spans a multitude of islands from southeast Asia east through the Pacific north of Australia. It is an archipelago country; looking at a map, it’s hard to tell that it’s even a country at all unless it’s clearly labeled. Many countries are comprised of many islands; Great Britain, for example, holds territory in Britain and on Ireland as well as across the Caribbean. But Indonesia is many islands, with a few main islands.
As for the types of coffee grown in Indonesia: as stated, most of the coffee produced here is Robusta, in contrast to many of the countries of the western hemisphere. Much of this Robusta is not highly regarded as a source of single origin coffee; much of it is used to make blends. In fact, much of Indonesian Robusta could be seen as the enemy of the single origin coffee drinker, since much of these coffee beans are combined with beans from other countries to make blends often sold in supermarkets.
However, many of the Arabica varieties found here are held in high regard by single origin coffee lovers worldwide, including coffees grown in Sumatra – though we’ll get into greater detail about these specific types of coffee later. In addition, the island of Java is in Indonesia, and if you know your coffee, you know that Java is a very famous name indeed.
Another thing to consider about Indonesia is that while it is a large coffee producer on a global stage, most (in fact, as much as 90%) of the coffee produced here is actually produced by small farmers, and not large organizations. This contributes a lot to the quality found in Indonesian coffee, especially considering that there are a number of farmer cooperatives made up of exporters who are certified as organic.
Much of the coffee produced here is also low in acidity, which makes it ideal for producing good blends along with higher acidity beans found in both Central America and East Africa, two areas we’ve explored already. Robusta bean blends using both Indonesian and Central American/East African coffees can still be of a very high quality with a pleasing result in terms of acidity and body.