As one of the oldest coffee-producing countries - Indonesia maintains a unique array of islands producing complex coffees.
Indonesia has been exporting coffee since 1711, when the Dutch East India Company sent its first shipment from Java to Europe. The crop was profitable for many exporters and importers: less so for the country’s producers. In 1960, the novel ‘Max Havelaar: Or the Coffee Auctions of the Dutch Trading Company’ was published, outlining the abuses endorsed by the Colonial Dutch system. The novel transformed the labour system and even provided inspiration for the first Fair Trade label.View Coffees
Place In World For Coffee Exporter5th
Sacks (60kg) exported annually6,334,000
Percentage of world coffee marketApprox. 4.8%
Other major agricultural exportsPalm products
Typical varieties produced25% Arabica: Typica, Caturra, Bourbon, Catimor, Tim Tim & S-Hybrids
Key coffee regionsSumatra, Java, Sulawesi, Flores & Bali
Typical harvest timesVaries by location
Typically availableFrom March
Indonesia’s production was originally nearly 100% Arabica until, in the 1870s, coffee leaf rust decimated production. Farmers slowly replaced Arabica with robusta, and today, although Indonesia is a significant coffee producing country – the fifth largest in the world behind Brazil, Colombia, Honduras, and Vietnam – only around 25% of production is Arabica.
Many coffees from Indonesia are today processed using the fully washed method. However, traditionally the post-harvest process of ‘Giling Basah’ (‘wet hulling’) is used. Growers hand-pulp their coffee at their farm, briefly dry it, and then offer it for sale at the local village market or deliver it very wet (around 30-50 percent humidity) to a collection station nearby. Unlike in most countries, where the coffee remains in parchment until it is milled just before export, the coffee is then hulled and re-dried until it is dry enough to store without rotting. The result is a unique cup profile that many people find delicious.
The Selling Process
The mills have a network of local representatives in the growing areas that buy partially dried parchment, fully dried parchment, and part and fully dried green to varying degrees of preparation. Uniquely, Indonesia has developed hulling machinery to mill even 18% wet parchment – a likely cause of the unique blue/green colour that can be found in some lots. It is also the likely cause of the huge quality variance between the best and worst lots – not least because some coffee will be fermented if the hulling process is too slow.
Indeed, Indonesia has a great deal to offer the specialty market, with distinct and unique profiles depending on region and processing. Most notably, Mercanta offers specialty coffees from Sumatra and Java; however, the country’s other islands of Sulawesi, Flores and Bali also produce coffee.