Coffee: Indonesia

Indonesia ed il mondo del caffè by Kanuni Coffee


General notes

Indonesia, currently the 4th largest producer of coffee in the world!

At the beginning of the eighteenth century it was already exporting coffee on behalf of the VOC (Dutch company of the East Indies) to Amsterdam, which abused it for years through this colonial system, so much so that they even wrote a book to highlight the negative impact that this system had on the Company; today, the title of this book (Max Havelaar) has become a trademark, used in the coffee industry, as an ETHICAL certificate in its production.

Until just over the mid-1800s, Indonesia produced only Arabica, but in 1876 almost all crops were wiped out by the rust of coffee leaves, and so it was that after an attempt with the Liberica species (Coffea Liberica: originating from western and central Africa and then widespread and naturalized in other countries of the world), it passed to the cultivation mainly of Robusta; in recent decades, however, Arabica has reappeared in some islands or parts of them, even with good results.

In Indonesia, a process of obtaining the final coffee bean called "GILING BASAH", basically a semi-washed one, is very common! But what is it about?

In practice, washing and drying methods of hybrid beans are used, in the sense that the residual humidity due to drying will not be that usually obtained by traditional methods, but will remain higher, ready for subsequent processing, the opening of the drupe with relative selection of the grain, to pass to a second drying that will bring our grain to have a typical bluish-green color!

What are the advantages of this process? Here they are:

  • reduction of acidity
  • rounding off intensity
  • greater body

in essence, it makes the coffee softer, rounder and more full-bodied.

Unfortunately we also have negative notes, which are not so negative because they are still appreciated today by a wide audience, so much so that it continues to be worked and sold all over the world; what are these "sore points"? Here they are, this type of processing creates, then INTRODUCES some hints:

  • vegetable
  • grass
  • wood and sometimes even mold ...

therefore not always well-liked, especially in the professional field when we are looking for a high quality level and yield in the cup, without particular scents that could be unpleasant on the palate.

Returning to the crops and species of coffee that we can find in Indonesia, we have said that by now the Robusta species occupies most of the crops, but in recent years several Arabica crops have been added, of which we will see the most widespread, based on the Island of belonging.

Java Island

Mostly in the west of the island, we have Arabica crops grown on large farms that provide coffee beans with a generally cleaner profile than other Indonesian coffees, with a sweet, aromatic, fresh flavor.

Sumatra island

In the northern part of the island we have small plots of land with shadowless crops and pesticides.

In these areas the coffee is left to ferment longer before the next processing, and all this makes the flavor of this coffee very intense, complex and full-bodied but without being heavy on the palate.


In the southern part of the island we have several small cultivation areas dedicated to Arabica, in the mountains, where we find a coffee that is among the most variable among the Indonesian ones, where, if processed in small farms they are usually dry, with a taste earthy and pungent, while if processed in the plantations, with a wet process, they return a flavor with bright, smooth, linear notes, more similar to Java; to keep in mind, among the curiosity on this type of coffee, the notoriety for its aged coffees, that is a process where the coffee rests for some time in a humid and warm climate, to reduce acidity and give more body to our coffee.

In recent years, buyers of a certain level (Specialty) have been encouraging the washed method to return a coffee that is "cleaner" and therefore with hints closer to the natural flavor of coffee than the more common semi-washed methods, but only with time we will know if all this has worked or if the "traditional" sale will have remained unchanged.

Small note: it will be easier to find an Indonesian coffee characterized by the name of the island of origin (Java, Sumatra and Sulawesi) rather than by the country.


Once again we hope to have satisfied your thirst for "knowing" by remembering to look at ours MAIN INDEX where you can find many other interesting information on the world of coffee!


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