This new journey into the discovery of the coffee producing countries leads us this time to a group of islands which are all quite different in the grown varieties: Indonesia.
Indonesia began exporting coffee to Europe in 1711, as a colony of Dutch India. During this period, almost all Arabica coffees were grown, but in 1876 the harvest was nearly decimated by a Roja epidemy, forcing growers to grow Robusta varieties, which were much more resistant to the disease.
Today, most of the coffee grown in Indonesia is made from Robusta varieties. The plantations are in most cases rather small (1 or 2 hectares) and the most cultivated varieties are Typica, l ‘Hibrido de Timor (also widely known as Tim Tim of the island of Sumatra), Cattura and Catimor.
Each island of the Indonesian archipelago has its own production method whose characteristics can be clearly distinguished from each other.
Sumatra: On the largest Indonesian island, the coffee is grown in the northern (Aceh, Lintong) and southern (Lampung and Mangkuraja) areas at an altitude of 800m to 1500m above sea level. The coffee is processed in the so-called “Giling Basah” process, which gives the beans a bluish color (semi-washed).
Sulawesi: The island that produces the largest percentage of Arabica in percentage terms. The plantations are located mainly in the western and southwestern part of the island at an altitude between 1100 and 1500 meters above sea level. The most famous region is Tana Toraja, which is the largest area on the hills of Sulawesi. The Arabica variety that is most widely grown is S795, a type Typica hybrid. The method of processing is also semi-washed (Giling Basah), but occasionally you will also find washed methods.
Java: the largest part of the coffee on the island of Java is of the variety Robusta, which grows on the largest plantations of the archipelago at rather low altitudes. The cultivation is controlled by the state, as it used to be during the colonial period. The Arabica varieties are grown at an altitude of 1400-1800mt above sea level.
The Kopi Luwak “Production”
Another famous processing method is that of the “Kopi Luwak”, about which you will find more details here. A coffee that is digested and excreted by a small animal, and that can be found on the market with extremely high prices. There´s a very interesting and ethically valuable movie about this topic: “The best comes last” with Jack Nicholson.