Variety of Arabica Coffee in Indonesia

Posted on 27/11/2023

History of Arabica Coffee in Indonesia


Coffee first appeared in the archipelago when the Dutch Governor in Malabar (India), Adrian van Ommen, sent Yemeni coffee seeds (Coffea arabica) to the Dutch Governor in Batavia (now Jakarta) in 1696 on the orders of the mayor of Amsterdam at that time, Nicholas Witsen. These seeds were planted in the Kedawung area, which is an agricultural area near Batavia. Efforts to develop these seeds failed due to flooding in Batavia.


The second shipment by Henricus Zwaardecroon brought coffee stem cuttings from Malabar to Batavia in 1699. This second cultivation process was carried out in the area that is now the Pondok Kopi area, East Jakarta. The results of cultivating the coffee plants were then taken to the Amsterdam Botanical Gardens for research in 1706. The results of this research showed that the coffee was of good quality and had high trade potential. Indonesia then became the first place for widespread coffee cultivation outside of Ethiopia and Arabia.


In 1711, the first coffee export was made from Java to Europe by the Dutch trading company, VOC (Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie). Over ten years, coffee exports increased to 60 tons per year. VOC developed Arabica coffee plantation areas outside Java to meet the demand for Arabica coffee from Indonesia. Arabica coffee was then planted in Sulawesi in 1750, in the highlands of North Sumatra near Lake Toba in 1888, and in the Gayo Aceh highlands near Lake Laut Tawar in 1924. The VOC monopolized the coffee trade between 1725 and 1780.


In 1878, a disaster struck coffee plants in Indonesia. Leaf rust disease (Hemileia vastatrix) scorches similar plants. This damage was overcome by the Dutch by bringing in the Liberika variant of coffee plants. After initially this variant was able to replace arabica, in the end, liberica was also affected by leaf rust pests and experienced crop failure. The Dutch then introduced robusta coffee to farmers in East Java in 1907, which was proven to be resistant to leaf rust and could grow at low altitudes.


Small companies in Indonesia began growing coffee as a main commodity in 1920. After the independence of the Republic of Indonesia in 1945, Dutch coffee plantations were nationalized and revitalized with new varieties of Arabica coffee in the 1950s. Coffee cultivation in Indonesia then grew increasingly rapidly until in the 2000s Indonesia became one of the largest coffee producers in the world along with Brazil, Vietnam and Colombia.


Arabica Coffee in Indonesia


As the 4th largest coffee-producing country in the world, Indonesia has a variety of quality coffees that have been recognized internationally. We export no less than 600,000 tons of coffee every year, which is 7% of the total coffee worldwide. The following are a variety of popular Arabica coffees from Indonesia.


1. Gayo Aceh Arabica Coffee


Aceh Province is famous for its excellent coffee quality. Gayo coffee comes from coffee plantations that grow at an altitude of 1,200 – 1,600 meters above sea level around Takengon City near Lake Laut Tawar, Gayo Highlands, Central Aceh. The characteristic of Gayo Coffee is that the taste tends to be bitter at the beginning with a low acidity level followed by a distinctive sharp aroma.


2. Kintamani Bali Arabica Coffee


One of the famous coffees from Indonesia is Kintamani Coffee which is grown at an altitude of 900-1,000 meters above sea level near Mount Batur. Kintamani coffee comes from coffee beans brought by farmers from Lombok and planted in Kintamani District. Kintamani coffee is known to have a sour and citrusy taste. This is caused by planting coffee beans mixed with planting vegetables and oranges using an intercropping system. The size of Kintamani coffee beans also tends to be larger than general Arabica coffee beans. Kintamani Bali Coffee was the first Indonesian coffee product to receive a Geographical Indication (IG) certificate in 2008.


3. Java Ijen Raung Arabica Coffee


Ijen Raung coffee is grown in the Ijen-Raung mountain area, Bondowoso, at an altitude of 900-1,500 meters above sea level at PTPN XII and community plantations. Known as a USDA 762 variety Arabica coffee, Kopi Ijen Raung has a nutty, spice, and chocolate flavor with a low acidity level and a soft texture that tends to be sweet. Ijen Raung coffee is picked with a proportion of 95% red cherries and processed using the wet-hulled method.


4. Flores Bajawa Arabica Coffee


The Flores Bajawa Coffee Plantation is located in the Bajawa area, Flores, East Nusa Tenggara, at an altitude of over 1,300 meters above sea level. Located between the Abulobo Volcano and the Inerie Volcano, this plantation is in an area rich in volcanic ash so coffee plants can grow well. Flores Bajawa coffee is known for its high quality and is widely exported to the United States and European countries. This coffee has a nutty, tobacco, and sweet taste with a balanced acidity level. The aroma of Bajawa Flores Coffee is a combination of floral, nutty, caramel, and tobacco aromas.


5. Malabar Arabica Coffee


Malabar Coffee also known as Java Preanger Coffee, is grown on coffee plantations in the Malabar Mountains, West Java, at an altitude of 1,400-1,800 meters above sea level. This coffee has a unique taste that is dominated by dark chocolate, spices, nuts, sometimes jackfruit, and a little sweet with a medium acidity level. Malabar Coffee is part of history because in the past the Dutch ordered the Priangan people to plant coffee, then exported it to Europe since 1711. The quality of Malabar Coffee is said to exceed that of Yemeni Coffee so that after being exported several times to Europe, people in the Western world know coffee as 'a cup of Java' and this term is still often used today.


6. Wamena Papuan Arabica Coffee


From the eastern tip of Indonesia, comes Papua Wamena Coffee which grows in the Baliem Valley, on the east side of Mount Jayawijaya, at an altitude of 1,200-1,600 meters above sea level. This coffee comes from India and was developed using the Bourbon Cultivar technique. Cultivated organically, Papua Wamena Coffee does not use any artificial chemicals. The harvest is also not very large, but it is sought after by many enthusiasts, making this coffee have a high price compared to other Arabica coffees. Papua Wamena coffee has a low acidity level and has a chocolate and floral aroma. The flavors include earthy, and herbal, with a hint of vanilla at the end.


7. Toraja Arabica Coffee


Tana Toraja is known as an area that has many mountains which are ideal for growing coffee plants. Coffee plantations in Toraja are quite spread out at an altitude of 1,400-2,100 meters above sea level. The taste of Toraja coffee is known to tend to be earthy, with an instant bitter sensation on the tongue and a low acidity level. The character of Toraja Coffee is very popular with Japanese and Americans so these two countries are the main target markets for Toraja Coffee. Coffee from the Sulotco plantation in the Rantekarua Mountains is also part of Toraja Coffee. Processed using wet-hulled, dry-hulled, honey, and natural processing methods, quality Toraja Coffee from Sulotco comes with a variety of aromas and flavors. Don't forget Luwak coffee, which is one of Sulotco's most sought-after prima donna products.


The coffees mentioned above are representatives of the diversity of Arabica coffee in Indonesia. Actually, there are still many types of Arabica coffee spread across Indonesia. There are currently 28 types of Arabica coffee with Geographical Indications, including Toba Arabica Coffee, Hyang Argopuro Arabica Coffee, Sukapura Tasikmalaya Java Arabica Coffee, Merapi Merapi Magelang Arabica Coffee, Banjarnegara Dieng Mountains Arabica Coffee, Rumbia Jeneponto Arabica Coffee, Bantaeng Arabica Coffee, and many more. Hopefully, this diversity will increase interest and enthusiasm for Indonesian Arabica coffee on the international stage.