Indonesian Coffee (A Complete Guide For You)

Indonesia is one of the largest producers and exporters of coffee around the world and produces the most unique coffee. In the world, the Sumatra region coffee beans are viewed as best. Indonesian coffee has spicy notes mixed with boldness, earthiness, and tobacco flavors with a leathery mouthfeel.

With so many coffee varieties available around the world, there is a high possibility that you don’t come across all of them. There are just too many! Cappuccinos and lattes are very common that you can find all around the world. But each region has its own kind of such coffees. One such is Indonesian coffee.

In this article, you’ll learn all about this special kind of coffee.

Scroll down and enjoy!

What Is Indonesian Coffee Called?

Indonesia is the fourth-largest producer of coffee in the whole world. The trade name used for Indonesian arabica coffee bean is Mandheling which is from Sumatra. Lintong is referred from the region of Lake Toba. And Gayo is called the coffee which comes from Aceh.

The world discovered coffee in the 1600s and since then, a lot of countries have started producing coffee. The coffee plant was discovered in Ethiopia and then traveled around the world through different traders.  

If we talk about Indonesia, the Dutch traders smuggled some Arabica coffee beans to Indonesia and introduced coffee to them. Then from the 1960s, Indonesia has been producing coffee and exporting it all around the world.

The trade name used for Indonesian coffee is called Mandheling. This name comes from the Mandailing people who were responsible for producing coffee in Sumatra. Mostly the Mandheling coffee is from the North of Sumatra. The coffee which comes from Aceh, which is also an area in Aceh, is called Gayo. Lastly, the coffee from Lake Toba is called Lintong.

What Makes Indonesian Coffee Good?

There are two factors that make Indonesian coffee so good. One is the volcanic soil of the islands of Indonesia where its grown and the other is the wet-hulled process that only Indonesia uses to process coffee beans.

You must be familiar with the fact that coffee is very complex. It’s not as simple as it seems. A lot of things determine the taste and flavor profile of chokers.

To name a few, the coffee plants’ locations, the brewing method, the temperature of the roasting, there are just so many things. That’s the reason, coffee tastes so similar yet so different all around the world.

This is the secret behind the Indonesian coffee tasting so good. The first reason is the soil. Indonesia, itself, is a country made up of different islands like Sumatra, Bali, Flores, Java, and Papua New Guinea.

The island soil has tons of active volcanic ashes thus making the soil enriched with unique flavors that the coffee beans absorb.

You see, the majority of the areas of the islands that makes up Indonesia are perfect for coffee plantation. No matter what the beans are – Robusta or Arabica – the soil and weather conditions produce both of these. Arabica is a higher elevation coffee plant that is grown mostly in Northern Sumatra and Aceh. Robusta is grown mostly in lower elevation areas like South of Sumatra like Lampung and Bengkulu and South Sulawesi.  

Regardless of the bean kind, they have pretty good taste. The volcanic ash mixed in the soil of Indonesia makes the coffee taste leathery and tobacco-like infused with earthy and woody notes. It also has less acidity overall.

Then, the wet-hulled process also adds spicy, dark, and musty flavors with hints of sweetness. The wet-hulled is a process that is only used in Indonesia. The local Bahasa language refers to wet-hulling as “giling basah.”

Wet-hulled coffee is often confused with wet-processed coffee, another term for “washed,” the most usual method of producing coffee. Wet-hulling enhances the body and lessens acidity, while wet-processing emphasizes subtle acidity and sweetness.

coffee plant

Steps Of Wet-Hulled

  • The coffee cherries are deskinned by a hand-cranked depupler.
  • Next, during the fermenting, mucilage, which is the fruity layer under the skin, gets broken down and is then wash away.
  • Now these coffee beans are dried for several hours where their moisture level drops to about 50% only. And the parchment which is the inside protective layer of the inner seed. For reference, other wet processing makes the coffee bean dry to such extent that the moisture level remains only about 10% to 12%

Till here, the farmers are responsible for the process. Then, they sell these beans to middlemen who further continue the process before its ready to be brewed. So, here’s what the middleman does after receiving the beans.

  • Middlemen sell the coffee to collectors or mills, which dry it to 25% – 35% moisture content, then hull and polish it. The beans are still moist and so pliable, and friction may damage them since they have not yet dried and shrunk away from the parchment.
  • After hulling, the coffee is dried by air to approximately 12-13% moisture. The coffee dries quickly without the parchment layer, but is exposed to wider temperature fluctuations and also to ambient yeasts and bacteria.
  •  Just a month after it has been picked, the coffee is ready for export.

Below I’ve prepared a table of how much Indonesia has produced coffee started from the year 2016.

YearCoffee Production in Millions (60 kg bags)
2016-20179.3
2017-20189.4
2018-20199.45
2019-20209.4

You can have a look at this video that I found from Starbucks about Indonesian coffee.

What Type Of Coffee Does Indonesia Produce?

Besides producing regular Arabica and Robusta coffee beans, they also produce specialty coffee. The number one and also the world’s most expensive one is Luwak coffee or kopi luwak.

Coffee is famous all around the world. From East to West, and North to South, everybody enjoys a morning cup of joe. The caffeine from coffee gives us instant energy and it also makes your brain release more serotonin thus elevating your mood. And people drink it every day.

You might already love the regular versions of Indonesian coffee that are available, but one of the specialty coffee, which is also the world’s most expensive coffee, is kopi luwak.

The kopi luwak goes for hundreds of thousands of dollars for just a pound of the bag. Shocking? I know. An animal called a palm civet eats and defecates coffee beans to make kopi luwak, which is an Indonesian coffee made from partially digested coffee beans. Yup, you read that right. Civet droppings are specifically sought out by farmers who collect the feces with the coffee beans to be cleaned and processed later.

a bag of roasted coffee beans and someone is pouring them from her hands.

You see, these coffee beans are different from other types of coffee. Their processing determines what they are. The civets actually select the beans by hand, and once they have eaten them, the beans are fermented inside their intestines.

A civet’s digestive system includes digestive enzymes that break down proteins inherent to beans. Authentic kopi luwak coffee beans are thought to be produced through these processes, contributing to the flavor profile, giving the beans quite a unique taste. This makes for a wonderful cup of coffee that is enjoyed by many people around the world.

You will notice very little acidity and a much sweeter and rich chocolatey taste. It has absolutely no bitterness and has a full body and smooth cleaner taste. Since it’s processed in an animal’s belly, the caffeine level is also about half the level of a normal cup.

The high price for this coffee is because of the time the farmers need and the energy that is used to pick up these in the forest and then wash them twice, dry them twice and then roast them at 220 degrees Celsius, so no bacteria is found.

Here’s a table of the nutritional content of 1 cup of kopi luwak.

ContentAmount
Calories457
Caffeine40 mg
Carbohydrates79 g
Proteins3 g
Fats14 g

History Of Coffee In Indonesia

Coffee was brought by Dutch traders in the 1600s in Indonesia. Java was the first place where this plant was grown.

The history of coffee is quite simple when it comes to Indonesia and its coffee.  A Dutch trader and colonial in Indonesia brought coffee plants to Indonesia in the early 1600s, after the Dutch had smuggled coffee seeds out of Yemen earlier in the century.

The first island where coffee was grown in Indonesia was Java. The Dutch Colonial Government had implemented coffee plantations all around Java by 1699. Then as time passed, Java became the biggest exporter of coffee by 1711. The whole of Europe started importing beans from Java.

Then the neighboring islands saw this and started growing coffee plants on their own islands. Sumatra soon bloomed in the industry and was followed by Sulawesi and many others. And now Indonesia has one of the world’s best coffee.

If you want to keep reading about coffee’s history, check out my article here.

So, My Two Cents

Indonesian coffee is world-famous. It is one the leading coffee exporters, the coffee from Indonesia has a reputation. People love the taste of this coffee. The island of Sumatra is responsible for a large portion of coffee production for the whole of Indonesia.

The coffee from Indonesia has a wonderful array of notes that you can taste. From spicy earthy notes with a hint of tobacco and chocolate.

But there is one such specialty coffee that is called kopi luwak. The world’s most expensive coffee, made from the waste of a palm civet. You can try it if you’d like. Contrary to what you’d expect from palm civet waste, it actually tastes sweet, but you wouldn’t know it unless you tried.

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Matt Marshall

As I learn more and more about coffee and coffee products I want to share all my learnings with you here on this website. I hope you find my articles useful and entertaining to read.

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