Java Coffee: What is Java and Why Do We Call Coffee Java?

java coffee

Have you ever referred to coffee as "Java" despite knowing why you are even calling it that? Well, today we are going to dive into the world of Java coffee and explain where the name comes from and what it means to be Java. Although it may be fun to say, you'll soon learn why you should only call one type of coffee, Java.

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Why is Coffee Called Java?

Welcome fellow coffee lovers, to the Southeast Asia island of Java, deep in Indonesia, where there are coffee trees galore and a whole menu of delicious batches, each with its own unique flavor profile. You may be wondering why Java coffee wasn't mentioned in our best Sumatra coffee overview and it's simply because Java coffee is in it's own class of bean. 

If you have a passion for coffee and want to know about its history, everything links back to islands in this region, before the coffee trade exploded over the world. Yes, If it wasn't for the island of Java, you probably wouldn't be enjoying that coffee you are sipping on this very moment. 

Starting with the Dutch East India Company, Java has since become a household necessity, almost everywhere in the world. 

You've probably heard coffee called java before or seen it on coffee-flavored items at the store.  Even if you are not a coffee drinker yourself, you may have even heard the term in relation to computers. As we will find out today, when it comes to java, there is more to it than just a name! 

Today, we will unpack the word java, and how much more this name can tell us about the morning beverage we know and love so much. 

Home Sweet Home


There are many different words or names used for our morning cup o' Joe, but one of them takes us right back to the origin of it all. 

If you are anything like us at Black Ink Coffee, there's nothing like some quality morning blends to make you feel right at home, no matter where you are in the world. What’s interesting about this is that java, the original place where all of the coffee production comes from, actually literally means exactly this: Home!  

At the same time, the word is also said to mean distant. Ironic isn't it? No matter where you are in the world, whichever the far-off distant land you've traveled to, or the all-night truck stop diner,  there is nothing like coffee to make you feel at home! 

Where it all Began

The island of java is in Indonesia, between Sumatra and Bali, and is the perfect microclimate for coffee plants to thrive and produce some delicious coffee beans.

Similar to the navigation of other coffee growers,  because they are so close to the equator, this is a reason that the Javanese have been so important in the history of the coffee business. 

If it wasn't for the Dutch East India Company, coffees from the island of java may have never made it to others in the world. The Dutch had initially brought the seedlings for coffee beans to Batavia, now known as Jakarta. 

Then, a few hundred years ago, in 1706, the Dutch brought a coffee plant back from the island as well as a sample product from the growing process. 

More Java, Please!

As time went on, the Dutch East India Company exploited the Javanese for their high-quality coffees more and more. Then, by the 19th century, Java became the world’s largest provider of bags of arabica beans. 

Unfortunately, it was at this time that a plague struck Indonesian islands which destroyed most of the java coffee plants, causing coffee leaf rust. The Dutch responded by introducing a new type of plant to the island, known as Robusta. 

Even though the flavors of Robusta beans are considered inferior, today 90 percent of every bag that comes from this island are Robusta coffees. Now, java coffee is still one of the largest providers for your morning cup, and daily caffeine fix. 

Java Arabica Beans

Java Arabica Beans

Initially, the name java simply meant a cup of coffee in the general sense, but now is a term for beans grown within a specific part of the land in Indonesia.

Java arabica coffees are grown at a high elevation on the Ijen plateau. It is a wet-processed coffee, which produces a cleanness in the taste of the coffee, and a very subtle body. 

Drinkers of java arabica coffee have made kept this particular one variety on their list for its bright acidity, nutty hints, and chocolate finish. Another reason java Arabica has earned its rights to be considered one of the best, aside from the name itself is for its unique body.

The overall feel of the coffee is so light, it has been described as effervescent. This makes for a smooth drinking experience, comparable to no other coffee. 

Monsooned Coffee

Each coffee bean changes by its relationships to the land. Some java coffee has been connected with another name known as “monsooned”. This term, also meaning aged, has to do with the beans encountering the rainy, moist air on the island for up to three years before the roasting process. 

When java coffee has been monsooned, it leads to a flavor so unique you'd wish you could copyright it yourself. This weakens the original acidity of java beans, but brings out a more roasted, woody flavor profile, with a much stronger body than most other coffee from Indonesia. 

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java coffee beans

You may have also heard the name java in places totally unrelated to coffee, like computer programming!  James Gosling, a computer programming pioneer used the term java as the name for his own signature form of computer coding. 

Apparently, Gosling liked the term java, because it could reflect technology, but still be trendy enough to catch on. We at Black Ink Coffee also endorse the theory that maybe, computer programmers just like themselves a hot java while they stay up all night providing their services. 

So, starting back from the Dutch, and their first trips to the original place of it all, all the way to modern-day times, java has become a household name, no matter where you are in the world, regardless whether you drink coffee or not! 

Keep Spreading the Word

Understanding the history of the word java may just make your coffee drinking experience all the more exciting, with the newfound appreciation of its history. 

Wherever you are in the world, if you're keeping up with our posts on all things coffee, we want to hear from you. What are your favorite names for the classic morning beverage? Shoot us an email or leave a comment and drop us some good new coffee slang. 

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Parker Russell is a coffee professional and the founder of Black Ink Coffee. As an expert in the field of coffee roasting, cupping (professional Q-Grader) and brewing, Parker has established Black Ink as brand that fuels the grind of dreamers.