Indonesia, a country renowned for its vibrant coffee culture, proudly holds the position of being the fourth largest coffee producer in the world, trailing behind Brazil, Vietnam, and Colombia. Coffee cultivation spans across the archipelago, with small coffee shops lining nearly every street corner, offering a variety of instant coffee and traditional coffee beverages.
In recent years, coffee consumption has witnessed a significant surge in Indonesia, driven by the growing middle class and an influx of visitors to the country. Consequently, numerous coffee shops catering to these trends have emerged, ensuring that coffee lovers are never far from a satisfying cup of coffee.
Unveiling the Historical Roots of Coffee Cultivation in Indonesia
The consumption of coffee in Indonesia boasts a long-standing history, dating back to the 17th century when the Dutch introduced coffee beans to the archipelago during the colonial period. Flourishing in the fertile soils of Java, Sumatra, Bali, and Sulawesi, the coffee industry in Indonesia now offers a wide array of coffee varieties from across the archipelago.
While Arabica beans once reigned supreme, Robusta blends have gained popularity in recent times and are used in various coffee-based drinks throughout the country. The prevalence of Robusta coffee, however, varies by region, with Sumatra being more likely to offer this type of coffee compared to other parts of Indonesia.
Exploring the Coffee-Growing Regions of Indonesia
The majority of coffee-growing regions in Indonesia are concentrated in Sumatra, which stands as the largest coffee producer in the country. Additionally, coffee plantations can be found in other areas such as Java, Sulawesi, and Bali. However, it is important to note that these plantations are typically small-scale, with most farmers working on their own small parcels of land, measuring only a few hectares. Consequently, while coffee tours are not as prevalent as one might expect, a few organized and larger-scale tours do exist for those who know where to look.
Sumatra: A Coffee Haven
Sumatra, renowned for its expansive coffee production, offers an impressive range of blends, including Karo, Lintong, Mandailing, and Kerinci. To immerse yourself in the world of Sumatran coffee and experience a coffee plantation tour, a visit to Berastagi in Karo Regency is a must. Accessible via Medan, the town serves as a gateway to several coffee plantation tours, as well as excursions to fruit orchards and strawberry farms.
Bali: An Island of Coffee Delights
Bali, too, boasts its fair share of coffee plantations, accessible by flying into Ngurah Rai International Airport and then taking a private car or bus to the desired location. Many of these plantations can be found in and around Ubud, a town renowned for its stepped rice field terraces. Exploring the coffee-growing process in Bali becomes an immersive experience at the Satria Coffee Plantation, where guided tours provide insights into the art of coffee production, alongside opportunities to sample the famous brews.
Java: Synonymous with Coffee
Java, an island inseparable from the world of coffee, offers numerous plantations where visitors can witness the coffee-growing process while indulging in the delicious flavors of freshly brewed coffee. Noteworthy plantations in Java include the MesaStila Resort and Spa, renowned for its plantation tours around Yogyakarta, and the Kaliklatik Plantation, located close to Mount Bromo. To access these plantations, it is best to fly to Jakarta, the capital city of Indonesia, and then continue the journey by car, bus, or train to other cities in Java such as Yogyakarta, Surabaya, or Bandung. From there, the plantations are usually located on the outskirts of these cities.
Exploring the Gems of Indonesian Coffee Brands
While Indonesia is not known for its abundance of branded coffee options beyond instant coffee, several notable coffee brands have made their mark. Kapal Api, Tanamera, and Anomali coffees are among the most renowned instant and packaged coffee brands available in the country.
However, when in Indonesia, it is worth shifting the focus from branded coffees to the distinctive coffee beans themselves. Mandailing from Sumatra, Gayo Coffee from Aceh, and Lintong, also from Sumatra, are examples of specific beans that captivate coffee enthusiasts. In regions such as Sulawesi, the beans are typically referred to simply as Sulawesi, while Java and Bali lack specific regional names for their beans.
Indonesia’s Specialty Coffees: Unique Flavors Await
Kopi luwak, Indonesia’s most famous specialty coffee, has gained considerable attention in recent years. This unique coffee is made using civets that consume coffee beans and subsequently excrete them. The partially digested beans are collected, cleaned, and processed to produce coffee, resulting in kopi luwak’s colloquial name: “poo coffee.” Although not confined to a specific region, kopi luwak can be savored throughout Indonesia, as it is widely available across the archipelago. Due to the labor-intensive process involved, kopi luwak ranks among the most expensive coffees in the region.
Another specialty coffee worth exploring is Acehnese coffee, originating from Aceh but found throughout the country. What sets Acehnese coffee, or Kopi Aceh, apart is its notably thick consistency, often leaving a sediment-like sludge at the bottom of the cup. To refine its drinkability, Acehnese coffee is typically passed through a sieve, colloquially referred to as a “sock,” resulting in a smooth yet intensely bitter cup of coffee. To savor this unique brew, a visit to Warung Kopi Salong in Banda Aceh, the capital of Aceh, is highly recommended. Established in the 1970s, this renowned café provides a taste of traditional Acehnese coffee, allowing visitors to witness the on-site grinding process and even purchase bags of full or ground beans as souvenirs.
Embarking on a Coffee Adventure: The Finest Coffee Houses
To savor the best coffee Indonesia has to offer, a visit to exceptional coffee shops is a must. While local coffee can be enjoyed at small shops scattered throughout the archipelago, for a more sophisticated experience encompassing lattes, cappuccinos, espresso shots, and blended drinks, established coffee shops provide an ideal setting. Below are some notable destinations for coffee lovers seeking the crème de la crème of Indonesian coffee.
Java: A Haven for Coffee Enthusiasts
To truly explore the vibrant coffee shop scene in Indonesia, a journey to Jakarta, the capital city of Java, is essential. Kopi Mank, one of Jakarta’s finest coffee destinations, has garnered a cult following in recent years. Known for its delectable local brews, Kopi Mank sets itself apart by sourcing its beans as locally as possible, thereby supporting the local community and farms.
Sumatra: A Coffee Paradise
In Sumatra, coffee lovers are in for a treat, as the island offers an abundance of small coffee shops that serve excellent brews. For those visiting Medan, the capital city of North Sumatra, Partner 8 stands out as a prominent destination on the local coffee scene. This newly opened cafe takes its coffee consumption seriously, partnering with local growers and visiting nearby farms to ensure the highest quality beans for their customers. Their signature offering, the “Full Sumatra,” combines beans and coffees from the Mandailing, Karo, Kerinci, and Lintong regions. Moreover, Partner 8 roasts and grinds their beans on-site, ensuring an unmatched freshness in every cup.
Jakarta is Anomali Coffee
Another noteworthy establishment in Jakarta is Anomali Coffee, a chain that spans across the city and even extends to other locations within the archipelago, including Bali. Anomali Coffee offers a unique opportunity to taste a wide array of Indonesian coffees under one roof, showcasing beans from various regions. This allows visitors to delve into the diverse coffee culture of Indonesia without extensive travel. Additionally, Anomali Coffee sells their own roasted beans, enabling visitors to bring a taste of Indonesia home as a cherished memento.
Bali: A Haven for Coffee Connoisseurs
Bali, with its abundant coffee options, offers a wealth of choices for coffee enthusiasts across the island. In Seminyak, Expat Roasters stands out as a coffee shop catering to serious coffee drinkers, founded by the award-winning barista, Shae Macnamara. Embracing a farm-to-table philosophy, this coffee shop collaborates with local growers in Bali to deliver exceptional brews.
Canggu, another popular destination in Bali, is home to Hungry Bird, acclaimed as one of the island’s finest coffee spots. Ground on-site, the beans here represent various regions across Indonesia, enabling visitors to sample an extensive range of coffee. Additionally, Hungry Bird boasts its own roasting facilities and a dedicated cupping room.
For those residing in Uluwatu to explore the renowned surf scene, Drifter Surf Shop & Cafe is a must-visit. Apart from surfing gear, thecafe offers a range of delightful coffees, including the popular Mandailing coffee from Sumatra, known for its deep notes and tangy flavor.
Indonesia, with its rich coffee heritage and burgeoning coffee scene, promises an unforgettable experience for coffee aficionados. From the captivating history of coffee cultivation to the distinct flavors found in each region, the archipelago provides a fascinating journey through its coffee culture. With an array of plantations, specialty coffees, and exceptional coffee houses, Indonesia stands as a true haven for those seeking the finest cups of coffee.