Indonesia is the world’s fourth largest coffee producer, just behind Brazil, Vietnam and Colombia. The country is also the 7th largest consumer globally. Production in 2015 in Indonesia reached a record of 11.5 million bags, with exports at 8 million bags. This represents over 300,000 tons of coffee, of which some 75,000 tons is Arabica.
Coffee has a long tradition dating back to 1696 when the Dutch brought coffee to the city of Batavia, which became the main coffee supply port to Europe. Plantations have developed steadily over the last three hundred years with some of the most famous been originally located in Sumatra and Java -which gave in fact its name to the expression ‘a cup of Java’- before spreading to other parts of Indonesia such as Bali, Flores, Papua and South Sulawesi.
Some of Indonesia’s most flavourful coffee beans have gained worldwide recognition from coffee lovers. Mandailing or Lintong in Sumatra, Blawan, Djampit, Pancur and Tugosari in Java, Kalosi and Toraja in Sulawesi or Kintamani in Bali are some of Indonesia’s most recognised coffee areas. Papua has recently emerged as a new coffee producing region. In Java, the biggest plantations are located mostly in East Java province, in the vicinity of the Ijen volcano.
Since 2007, a group of farmers, processors, exporters, roasters and retailers have regrouped into the Specialty Coffee Association of Indonesia (SCAI), to promote and improve the quality of Arabica coffee grown in Indonesia. SCAI has around 60 members representing more than half of Indonesia’s exported or roasted coffee.
Most of the producers are small or medium farms with farmers picking coffee beans by hand. All of them produce organic coffees. All coffee plantations are opened to the public. Other well-known coffee production areas (mostly Robusta) are Lampung in Sumatra, Flores, Aceh or Mandaling in North Sumatra.
Losari Spa Retreat and Coffee Plantation is probably the best preserved coffee estate plantation from Dutch times. It was created in 1922 in a stunning location at 900 meter above sea level in an area surrounded by 8 majestic volcanoes. The Losari plantation was converted into a luxurious resort in the early nineties with its plantation landscapes and old-style atmosphere being carefully preserved with the main landmark being the mansion of the plantation owner and the reception, built from a former rail station.
The plantation continues to produce today high-quality organic Robusta coffee beans and offers tour of the plantation providing explanation about the way to grow coffee and the harvesting process.
Finally, what would be a tour of Indonesia’s world of coffee without evocating its well-popular “Kopi Luwak”? This very flavoured coffee originates from… the dropping of the luwak, a species of civet cat to be seen mostly in Sumatra. The animal eats the fleshy berries of the coffee tree. Digested beans are then collected, cleaned and roasted.
This coffee is among the most expensive to produce as civet cats eat only small quantities of berries with beans being cultivated on civet farms. Coffee experts say that the acidity contained in the animal’s body enhances the flavour, giving Kopi Luwak its velvety aroma with a hint of chocolate. Outlets of Kopi Luwak are to be seen in Jakarta major malls.