Indonesian coffee is somewhat mysterious for many coffee drinkers, as there are mixed reviews regarding the coffee from this nation. Let’s take the time to explore Indonesian coffee and take a closer look at some of the best beans available from the worlds’ largest archipelago.
Indonesian coffee is known for intense earthy and dark flavors, with tones of chocolate, spice, and fruit. The best Indonesian coffee is Arabia beans grown on the islands of Sumatra and Java. Specialty Indonesian coffee is among the best coffee in the world.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the best coffee that Indonesia has to offer, list the best internationally available coffee beans available from the region, and take a quick trip into Indonesian coffee history.
Indonesia is a republic that consists of over 17,000 islands. There are several large islands that you are probably already familiar with, but there are thousands of small islands that are largely unknown by most people. The larger Indonesian islands include Bali, Sumatra, and Borneo, among others.
You may be surprised to hear that Indonesia is the fourth-largest producer of coffee internationally. Indonesian coffee is predominantly Robusta, but 25% of Indonesian coffee is Arabica. Indonesian coffee is known for earthy flavor tones, excellent mouthfeel, and strong yet clear taste.
Some Indonesian Coffee History
Indonesia has a very long history of growing coffee. The coffee tree is not native to the Indonesian region, but the seeds for growing coffee trees were brought to Indonesia, specifically to Java, in the 1600s by Dutch settlers who emigrated from Yemen.
The coffee trees flourished and grew very quickly due to the perfect growing conditions of these islands. Within 100 years of their arrival, the coffee trees had grown magnificently and were grown in massive plantations.
Coffee trees were planted and spread all over the major island of the Indonesian archipelago, and the coffee bean quickly became one of Indonesia’s most prominent exports.
Since then, Indonesia has continued to grow, produce, and export coffee beans and has grown to be the fourth-largest producer of coffee internationally, behind only Brazil, Vietnam, and Colombia.
Indonesian Coffee Production
The coffee production in Indonesia is predominantly Robusta coffee beans. Only about 25% of the coffee grown in Indonesia are Arabica beans, while 75% consists of Robusta beans.
The significantly larger production of Robusta over Arabica is due to a breakout of a fungus known as “Coffee Rust” in the less-hardy Arabica coffee trees. Coffee rust is a fungus that causes the leaves of the tree to drop off early, which in turn damages or kills the tree.
This fungus decimated the Arabica coffee trees on the major coffee-growing islands in Indonesia, and so Robusta coffee trees were planted in their place to prevent another such tragedy.
Robusta coffee beans are significantly more hardy than Arabica beans, and they are resistant to disease, pests, and fungi.
The coffee grown and produced in Indonesia is known for tasting strong and earthy, with a crisp and clear body of flavors. This coffee is strong and has an unmistakable mouthfeel.
Indonesian coffee is predominantly produced for the consumer market, but there are some specialty coffees from the region that are exceptional.
There are high-quality specialty Indonesian coffees from both Arabica and Robusta coffee beans.
Is Indonesian Coffee Good?
Indonesia is responsible for a large portion of international coffee production and exports around 760 metric tons of coffee beans annually. However, just because a country produces a lot of coffee does not always mean that it produces good coffee. Is Indonesian coffee any good?
Indonesian coffee is primarily Robusta. The high-quality variants of Indonesian Robusta is excellent for espresso; the rest is used for instant and consumer-grade coffee. Indonesian Arabica coffee is exceptional and tends to be some of the best in the world, and has won many coffee competitions.
With that being said, Indonesia is a very large country. This is the largest island nation and consists of many thousands of islands.
Coffee is grown on many of the Indonesian islands, and each island is known to have its own unique micro-climate. These local micro-climates drastically affect the coffee beans that are grown there.
Coffee grows prolifically in Indonesia as the volcanic soil and equatorial climate present in the region are ideal for growing coffee. Indonesia is perfectly placed in the coffee belt and features lowland areas and mountainous regions, which allows all variants of coffee to be grown on these islands.
Since coffee has been produced in Indonesia for such a long time, there are many different coffee preparation and roasting methods in Indonesia. There are traditional methods and modern methods, and each method affects the coffee that is produced.
The large area that is Indonesia, the many various islands that grow coffee in their own micro-climates, and the numerous preparation and roasting methods that are used in the archipelago mean that there is a very wide variety of coffee produced in Indonesia.
For these reasons, the coffee that comes from this nation comes in a wide range of qualities. There are both high-quality and low-quality coffee beans produced in Indonesia.
High-quality Indonesian coffee beans are very sought after. These beans are grown in ideal conditions and prepared by master coffee farmers and roasteries. High-quality Indonesian coffee beans are known for a rich, earthy taste with tones of fruits and chocolate.
Some Indonesian coffee beans are very sweet and rich, while others can be very dark and woody tasting.
The best Robusta beans from Indonesia are perfect for espresso for their very strong coffee flavor and high caffeine content.
With that being said, there are low-quality coffee beans produced in Indonesia. The majority of the Robusta coffee beans that are produced in Indonesia are consumer-grade coffee beans, which means they are often used as filler in blended coffee grounds and used in instant coffee.
There are specialty coffee beans of both the Arabica and Robusta varieties, which are considered to be excellent coffee beans, but some Indonesian beans are more famous for being low-quality or poor beans rather than good.
This means that to find really good Indonesian beans, some searching and trials are required, but once you source them, they are rivals for the best beans produced on the Equator.
What Is Indonesian Coffee Known For?
Indonesian coffee is a very broad term. The Indonesian archipelago is a very large area, and there are many varieties of coffee produced there. With that in mind, are there any stand-out features of Indonesian coffee?
High-quality Indonesian coffee is known for its heavy-bodied, high earthy flavor tones, low acidity, and spicy or chocolatey notes. The highest quality Indonesian coffee is said to be from the island of Sumatra. Coffee lovers describe this coffee as exquisite and complex.
The best Indonesian coffee is known for its very intense flavor. This coffee is used for high-end espresso and is a favorite among many coffee lovers.
Indonesian coffee is often said to be very standard tasting and nothing special, but if you dig deeper and source good Indonesian coffee from good farms and good roasteries, the coffee is exceptional.
There are flavor profiles in Indonesian coffee that include:
All of these flavor profiles are bold and intense, which means that there is an Indonesian coffee that is suited for every palate.
Another characteristic that Indonesian coffee is known for is traditional preparation techniques. The islands of Indonesia have traditional wet and dry coffee bean preparation methods, many of which originated in Indonesia. There are some unique preparation techniques and methods found only in Indonesia.
The way coffee is prepared before roasting is crucial to the flavor of the coffee after it is brewed. The proper preparation techniques can drastically improve the taste of a coffee bean, while inferior techniques can spoil the best beans.
Is All Indonesian Coffee The Same?
Indonesian coffee is somewhat misunderstood by many coffee drinkers. Some stand by their belief that Indonesian coffee is bad, others swear that it is amazing, and there seems to be a consistent thread of uncertainty surrounding Indonesian coffee. Many wonder if all Indonesian coffee is the same or if the coffee really does vary as much as they say?
Indonesian coffee is not all the same. The coffee produced in Indonesia varies widely. Some are sweet and fruity, and others are dark and rich. Some are light and chocolatey, while others are intense and full-bodied. Some are high-quality, while others are not.
The vast differences between different Indonesian coffees mean that some are excellent among the best drinking coffees in the world, while others are best used as filler in coffee blends.
Some characteristics that almost all Indonesian coffees have in common are a pronounced deep, rich, earthy flavor tone, a smooth mouthfeel, and excellent clarity when brewed.
Apart from these aspects of the coffee, each variety of Indonesian coffee is very different from the others.
It is important to try multiple sources for Indonesian coffee before deciding whether or not you enjoy it. Remember that there are over 9 different major islands in the Indonesian archipelago that produce coffee and hundreds of smaller islands that produce their own variety of beans as well.
There are several Indonesian coffees to try before deciding if this type of coffee is for you. Take the time to try as many as possible before drawing your conclusions.
How Much Coffee Does Indonesia Produce?
Coffee is only grown in what is known as the “coffee belt,” which is an area very close to the Equator. This belt is where the climate condition best suits the requirements for growing coffee trees, and the trees do not survive well outside of this narrow international strip. This means that only a handful of countries produce enough coffee beans for international export.
Indonesia produces roughly 760 metric tons of coffee annually. That is equivalent to 1,675,513.2 pounds. This production makes Indonesia the fourth largest coffee producer in the world after Brazil, Vietnam, and Colombia.
75% of this coffee production is Robusta coffee beans, and 25% is Arabica beans.
Indonesian coffee of the past was predominantly Arabica, but since the coffee rust infections of the late 19th century, Indonesians have planted more Robusta coffee trees that are resistant to the damaging fungus.
For this reason, Indonesian coffee production is not predominantly Robusta, but 25% of the production is made up of Arabica.
This is a very high percentage of Arabica production compared to other South-Asian coffee producers, such as Vietnam, where 95% of all annual coffee production is Robusta.
This figure is important because most Robusta coffee is low-quality and used for filler in coffee blends and instant coffee, while Arabica is considered to be better quality coffee and often used as single-origin specialty coffee for more enlightened coffee drinkers.
25% of 760 metric tons is still 190 metric tons. Indonesia Produces around 190 metric tons of high-quality Arabica coffee per year. This is a higher Arabica production than any country other than the largest producer, Brazil.
Those are impressive figures for a country that supposedly produces inferior coffee. Indonesian Arabica coffee is among the best in the world, and the production of this coffee is only increasing as it gains international popularity.
It is impossible to write about Indonesian coffee without mentioning Kopi Luwak. This is an Indonesian coffee surrounded by controversy due to the way in which it is harvested and the high price that is charged for this coffee.
Kopi Luwak is an Indonesian specialty coffee harvested from the dropping of Indonesian Civet Cats. The cats ingest the raw coffee berries and excrete the coffee beans. After the process of digestion, the beans are said to have a unique and special flavor that is unmatched by other coffees.
The digestion does not affect the coffee negatively, and it is perfectly safe to use and consume in a drink as there is an outer shell on all coffee beans that are removed before processing.
This means that those who drink Kopi Luwak are not actually drinking cat poop, as many believe, but the coffee beans have rather been affected by enzymes within the digestive system of the animal that affects the way the coffee tastes when brewed.
Kopi Luwak is a rare specialty coffee that is said to have low acidity and high sweetness. These beans are among some of the most expensive in the world. One cup of Kopi Luwak coffee is known to cost as much as $90 US.
The popularity of this coffee is driven mainly by low supply, as this coffee is very rare, and the high price that is charged for it. The assumption is that expensive coffee is good coffee, and since Kopi Luwak is extremely expensive, it must be extremely good, right?
In fact, Kopi Luwak is not as good as it is hyped up to be. Coffee experts consistently place Kopi Luwak as inferior to most other premium coffee beans during blind taste tests, stating that there is nothing special or amazing about the taste or experience of Kopi Luwak coffee.
The fact that this coffee is so sought after is unfounded in actual taste or quality. This coffee has become so desirable that Kopi Luwak farmers have taken to keeping dozens of Indonesian Civet Cats in captivity for the express purpose of feeding them coffee berries and harvesting the beans.
This is considered to be cruel, and for this reason, many coffee competitions and governing bodies do not recognize Kopi Luwak coffee in competition or in coffee taste tests.
Coffee From The Indonesian Islands
The Indonesian archipelago is the biggest island nation on earth. There are over 17,000 islands counted within it, and many of these islands produce coffee.
However, there are only a few of these islands that produce enough coffee and coffee of good enough quality to be internationally recognized as coffee producers. Each of these islands produces a unique coffee that holds its own specific characteristics.
Let’s go over some of the major coffee-producing islands in Indonesia and find out what the unique traits of the coffee they produce are.
Coffee From Java
Java is the first island in Indonesia to produce coffee. The coffee from this island is so acclaimed that the name Java has become synonymous with coffee.
Java produces some of the best single-origin coffees in the world but is best known for the coffee blend Mocha Java. Mocha Java is said to be the first high-quality coffee blend and has sparked the production of many others since its creation.
Java coffee is described as well balanced with notes of chocolate, caramel, and spices. This is an exceptional form of Indonesian coffee.
Coffee From Sumatra
Sumatra is responsible for most of Indonesia’s Arabica production. This coffee is very highly regarded and very highly sought after in the world of coffee.
Sumatran coffee is considered to be some of the best coffee in the world and is said to be the best quality coffee that comes from Indonesia.
This coffee is uniquely thick and carries full-bodied tones of chili, spice, and tobacco, with rich earthy flavors and very low acidity.
If you are looking for good Indonesian coffee, Sumatran coffee should be your first stop.
Coffee From Sulawesi
Sulawesi is another large producer of Indonesian Arabica coffee. This is the most unique island in Indonesia and produces some of the most unique coffee as well.
Coffee from Sulawesi is described as deep and rich, yet gentle. It has flavor tones of nuts and spice and is very easy to drink.
This high-quality coffee is bright and refreshing and is unlike most other Indonesian coffees.
Coffee From Bali
Bali is the birthplace of Kopi Luwak coffee and so is the producer of some of the most expensive coffee in the world.
Balinese coffee is described as woody and earthy with tones of fruit. This is quite a heavy coffee, but it is smooth to drink and experience.
Bali does not only produce Civet Cat coffee, but it is known for producing high-quality Arabica beans of other varieties as well.
Coffee From Flores
Flores is ones of the smallest islands in the archipelago, but it produces some of the most interesting coffee.
Flores coffee is described as floral and light, with flavor tones of chocolate and fruit and some earthy notes.
This coffee is light and easy to drink and is a favorite among those who prefer brighter coffees. Flores coffee was cross-bred with Java coffee trees to produce this unique and satisfying coffee variety.
Coffee From Papua
The Indonesian side of Papua New Guinea is not widely known for its coffee, but it should be.
The coffee grown and produced here is rich and silky. It is thick in the mouth and is often compared to a syrup-like mouthfeel.
This coffee has a strong chocolate base but is lifted on the palate with notes of sweet maple and gentle spices.
The 9 Best Indonesian Coffee Beans
There are many different types of coffee that are available from Indonesia, and there are even more varieties of beans available. It can be a fairly difficult challenge to find the best Indonesian coffee, so we have compiled a list of the best Indonesian coffee beans for you to try.
All of these beans are available for order internationally, and they have all been tried and tested by coffee enthusiasts and connoisseurs and found to be exceptional.
Here is a list of the 9 best Indonesian coffee beans:
- Puntang Typica by Irwansyah Kamaludin – this is a medium to dark roast coffee with an elegant, sweet, and light body with flavors of blueberry, lychee, nuts, and chocolate. The beans are Indonesian Typica coffee beans.
- Sumatra Gayo by Volcanica Coffee – this is a dark roasted coffee bean with a heavy ad syrup-like body and rich, earthy, spicy flavor notes. These are Indonesian Arabica coffee beans.
- Sumatra Mandheling by Koffee Kult – these beans are medium roasted with a full and creamy body. These beans have rich, complex, earthy, and chocolatey flavors. These beans are Indonesian single-origin Arabica coffee beans.
- Bali Blue Moon by Fresh Roasted Coffee – this is a medium roast coffee with a full and creamy body. Bali Blue Moon boasts rich dark chocolate flavor tones, with hints of spice, vanilla, and earthy tones. These are Indonesian single-origin Arabica coffee beans.
- Java Taman Dadar by Fresh Roasted Coffee – these beans are medium roasted with a fully syrupy-like body. This coffee has a balanced flavor with notes of nuts, woods, and chocolate. This is Indonesian single-origin Arabica coffee.
- Sulawesi Toraja by Teasia – this is a medium to dark roasted coffee with a smooth, full body. The flavors are complex yet fruity, with notes of dark chocolate and cinnamon. This is Indonesian single-origin Arabica coffee.
- Sumatran Specialty by Ryd – this coffee is a medium m roast with a heavy yet smooth and balanced body. The present flavors are those of berries, currants, and other fruits. This is single-origin Indonesian Arabica Rusana coffee.
- Mocha Java Blend by Larry’s Coffee – this is a dark roast blend of Arabica coffee beans from Indonesia with a medium smooth body and balanced flavor notes of caramel, chocolate, and spices.
- Dark Sulawesi Kalossi by Coffee Bean Direct – this is a dark-roasted coffee that has rich flavor tones of berries and earthy flavors. This is a full-bodied single-origin Arabica coffee from Indonesia.
The Final Word
Indonesian coffee is not as highly regarded as it should be. It is often overlooked due to the high Robusta coffee yield of Indonesia, but the high-quality Arabica beans are among the best coffees in the world.
There are so many excellent coffees to try from Indonesia, so be sure to explore as many as you can and really give these coffees a fair chance.
Join the thousands of coffee connoisseurs all over the world who love Indonesian coffee and expand your coffee palate along the way. Start your Indonesian coffee journey with the coffee beans on this list, and you will not be disappointed!