Indonesian Coffee Beans: Our Review of the Indonesia Coffee Bean
Are you ready for a little adventure in your journey as a coffee drinker? Have you been dreaming of finding a bean with a rich, bold, earthy taste? Indonesian coffee may be a good fit! Most people don't know this, but Sumatran coffee is just the origin of the bean and that there are quite a few other Indonesian Coffees that they have to offer.
The bean usually hails from one of three regions in Indonesia. Java, Sulawesi, and Sumatra are home to some of the best coffee from the area. However, as you experiment with the country’s coffee flavors, you’ll notice something a little different about each region’s beans. Keep reading to discover more about the history of Indonesia coffee, flavors, and our recommendations.Try Some Here →
A Little History Lesson
Coffee plants first arrived on Indonesian soil during the 17th century. A group of Dutch settlers was responsible for planting seeds. Their objective was to compete in the global coffee trade, which at the time was dominated by the Arabic region. Java started exporting arabica coffee beans in the early 1700s.
Following Java’s success, planting began in Sumatra, Bali, Timor, and Sulawesi. Soon coffee plantations existed throughout the country, with Portuguese cultivators joining the production ranks in Flores and East Timor. By the 1920s, coffee was one of Indonesia’s main sources of revenue. In 1945, the plantations were brought under state control following Indonesia’s establishment as an independent nation.
During the plantation growth stage, many forests were cut down to make room for the coffee bean. Miles of roads and train tracks were built to handle the transport of coffee crops across each island. Modern-day Indonesia makes an impressive amount of the world’s coffee. The country is among the globe’s top 10 coffee producers.
In fact, the moniker “java juice” comes from the island of Java and small farmers grow 90% of the crop for the country. Conventional harvesting methods are still in use for coffee bean Indonesia. It’s the wet-hulling technique that gives Indonesian coffee its rich texture and earthy, rich flavor.
A Taste of Indonesia
Generally speaking, coffee from Indonesia has earthy, dark, and rich tastes. The hints of flavors can include spice, wood, leather, tobacco, mustiness, and earthiness. Some people taste similarities with dark chocolate that doesn’t contain much sweetener.
While all Indonesian coffees share some similarities, you may be surprised by the subtle differences between the islands. Given the unique processes used by each island and the slight geographical variations, the discerning palate can pick up subtle differences between these beans.
Some people use Java as another term for coffee, but it’s a specific type from the Indonesian island of the same name. Originally, all coffee from Indonesia shipped out of Java bearing the island’s name on most bags. Needless to say, the nickname stuck, and while not all modern coffee is Java, it can be.
Java does not produce as much coffee as it once did, but you can still pick up some true Javan beans. Of note, modern Java beans differ from those grown during the island’s early coffee days. Today, Javan coffee is more acidic than that from other islands. However, you can expect full, rich flavors with hints of chocolate and spicy chili in this island’s crop.
This island features four different peninsulas that face north, east, southeast, and south. An overwhelming 95% of the island’s arabica beans are produced to the west and southwest of center Sulawesi. Though Sulawesi coffee falls at the low end of the acidity scale, it’s slightly more acidic than traditional Sumatran.
As a darker roast, you can expect rich, full-bodied coffee that tastes smooth and earthy with sweet nut and some light spice tones. Some coffees have fruity, chocolatey, or nutty notes. Discerning coffee drinkers may pick up on the spicy undertones, especially when you get some cinnamon and cardamom notes.
Sumatra is one of the regions that produce infamous flavors known for their quality and reputation for being smoky or toasted. The island also produces most of the arabica beans from Indonesia. Sumatra’s soils and climates are ideal for growing coffee, with the majority coming from regions with volcanic mountains.
Coffee from Sumatra is an excellent choice for people who struggle with acidity in their coffee. Unlike other varieties, coffees from here have creamy and thick textures with low acidity. The flavors can pop with bitter and bold notes. They tend to be reminiscent of chili, sweet fruit, cedar, tobacco, and chocolate. You might also notice an earthy flavor in your next cup of coffee.
The growing region of Papua sits 4,500 feet or more above sea level. Baliem and Kamu Valley produce this island’s beans. Like the other Indonesian islands, beans from Papua have a unique taste with slightly different notes. Additionally, you can expect Papua beans to have a medium acidity compared to those from the other islands.
Coffee from Papua tends to be smooth and mellow with a good body. You can generally find an interesting range of tones and notes to fit any tastes. Papua beans may have chocolatey or spicy notes like other Indonesian coffees, or you could pick up citrus or floral notes. Many Papua coffee drinkers appreciate the silky and syrupy texture with slightly sweeter tones.
Bali coffees are some of the newest to hit the market. Given the low production volumes, Bali beans cost more and usually land spots on premium and gourmet coffee lists. Thanks to the rich volcanic soils on Bali, coffee plants grow well and develop unique flavors.
Coffee grown in Bali has a heavy and silky texture. You can most commonly find Bali coffee as light or medium roasts. The lighter roasts carry some light fruity notes while medium roasts taste more chocolatey or woody.
As a side note, many coffees from Bali don’t carry labels indicating they are organic. However, most Bali coffees tend to be fertilized with manure from nearby farms instead of using artificial fertilizers.
Often grouped with Bali, Flores is part of a group of islands along the eastern part of Indonesia. The breathtaking landscape is home to some exotic wildlife and gorgeous botanicals, so it’s probably no surprise to find a bold coffee as well.
Coffee from Flores tastes like the ideal blend of floral and earthy tones with a sweet chocolate base. Usually lightly roasted, Flores beans have a low acidity and rich flavor with subtle undertones that you can expect to wow your tastebuds.
Coffee Production in Indonesia
The exact wet-hulling method farmers use is called giling basah. Workers pick the crop, depulp it, and leave it out to dry for a short period. The majority of coffee producers dry their crops until there is 11% to 12% moisture content. With giling basah, the crop gets dried until it reaches a 30% moisture content.
Once the crop reaches 30% moisture content, it is stripped to reveal green coffee beans. The beans get dried to the point that they can go into storage without spoiling. Giling basah lowers the acidity and provides richness.
Where Can I Buy Indonesian Coffee?
You may be able to find some flavors at a nearby specialty coffee shop or at your local supermarket. However, you’ll probably have the best luck finding Indonesian coffee flavors online. You can also try signing up for a coffee subscription that curates different flavors from around the world based on your taste preferences.
Coffee from Indonesia is usually available in whole bean and ground varieties. You may be able to find select flavors in single-serve portions. It is up to you what type you’d like to buy, but some coffee lovers prefer whole beans for taste and freshness.
If fair trade and sustainability are concerns for you, look for brands with the fair trade label. These labels ensure the product you’re purchasing isn’t coming from farms or companies that endorse exploitative work practices. Some labels also include 100% organic crops.
Most of the coffee available at specialty shops and supermarkets is treated with chemicals and pesticides. Organic coffee is grown with natural fertilizers instead. The production and growing process do not involve chemicals or pesticides. If you’re concerned about the health hazards of chemicals in your food, you may want to stick with 100% organic brands.
Our Indonesian Coffee Recommendation
Are you ready to try Indonesian coffee? Our Sumatran blend is a medium roast with low acidity and lots of fudgy, chocolatey goodness. With some soft honey notes, our Sumatra gives off a delightful aroma ranging from maple syrup to toasted almonds to nice chocolate notes.
The best part is that no matter how you brew, our Sumatran can work for you! Choose whole bean or ground coffee in 12-ounce or 5-pound bags. We also offer coffee pods for single-cup brewing systems. You can even save by setting up a subscription to ensure your beans keep coming!
We hope we gave you a good idea about what Indonesian coffee has to offer and what it could add to your daily caffeine intake. If you haven’t tried it, what are you waiting for?Try Some Here →