Coffee production in Indonesia
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Indonesia is the fourth largest producer of coffee in the world. Coffee in Indonesia began with its colonial history, and has played an important part in the growth of the country. Indonesia is located within an ideal geography for coffee plantations. The longitude and latitude of the country means that the island origins are all well suited micro-climates for the growth and production of coffee, resulting in widespread environmental degradation and the destruction of tropical rainforests that have the highest concentration of endemic species in the world.
Indonesia produced 420,000 metric tons of coffee in 2007. Of this total, 271,000 tons were exported and 148,000 tons were consumed domestically. Of the exports, 25% are arabica beans; the balance is robusta. In general, Indonesia’s arabica coffees have low acidity and strong body, which makes them ideal for blending with higher acidity coffees from Central America and East Africa.
- 1 History
- 2 Cultivation
- 3 Sumatra, Mandheling, Lintong and Gayo
- 4 Sulawesi, Toraja, Kalosi, Mamasa and Gowa
- 5 Java
- 6 Bali
- 7 Sumbawa
- 8 Flores
- 9 Papua
- 10 Harvesting and processing
- 11 Coffee research
- 12 Coffee associations
- 13 Current status of the industry
- 14 Robusta coffee
- 15 References
- 16 Further reading
- 17 External links
The Dutch governor in Malabar (India) sent a Yemeni or arabica coffee (Coffea arabica) seedling to the Dutch governor of Batavia (now Jakarta) in 1696. The first seedlings failed due to flooding in Batavia. The second shipment of seedlings was sent in 1699. The plants grew, and in 1711 the first exports were sent from Java to Europe by the Dutch East India Company, known by its Dutch initials VOC (Vereeningde Oost-Indische Company which was established in 1602. Within 10 years, exports rose to 60 tons per year. Indonesia was the first place, outside of Arabia and Ethiopia, where coffee was widely cultivated. VOC monopolized coffee trading in 1725 to 1780.
The coffee was shipped to Europe from the port of Batavia (now Jakarta). There has been a port at the mouth of Ciliwung River since 397 AD, when King Purnawarman established the city he called Sunda Kelapa. Today, in the Kota area of Jakarta, one can find echoes of the seagoing legacy that built the city. Sail driven ships still load cargo in the old port. The Bahari museum occupies a former warehouse of the VOC, which was used to store spices and coffee. Menara Syahbandar (or Lookout Tower) was built in 1839 to replace the flag pole that stood at the head of wharves, where the VOC ships docked to load their cargos.
In the 18th century, coffee shipped from Batavia sold for 3 Guilders per kilogram in Amsterdam. Since annual incomes in Holland in the 18th century were between 200 to 400 Guilders, this was equivalent of several hundred dollars per kilogram today. By the end of the 18th century, the price had dropped to 0.6 Guilders per kilogram and coffee drinking spread from the elite to the general population.
The coffee trade was very profitable for the VOC, but less so for the Indonesian farmers who were forced to grow it by the colonial government. In theory, production of export crops was meant to provide cash for Javanese villagers to pay their taxes. This was in Dutch known as the Cultuurstelsel (Cultivation system), and it covered spices and a wide range of other tropical cash crops. Cultuur stelsel was initiated on coffee at Preanger region of West Java. In practice however, the prices set for the cash crops by the government were too low and they diverted labor from rice production, causing great hardship for farmers.
By mid 1870s the Dutch East Indies expanded arabica coffee growing areas in Sumatra, Bali, Sulawesi and Timor. In Sulawesi the coffee was first planted in 1850. In North Sumatra highlands coffee was first grown near Lake Toba in 1888, followed in Gayo highland (Aceh) near Lake Laut Tawar in 1924.
In 1860, a Dutch colonial official, Eduard Douwes Dekker, wrote a book called "Max Havelaar and the Coffee Auctions of the Dutch Trading Company", which exposed the oppression of villagers by corrupt and greedy officials. This book helped to change Dutch public opinion about the "Cultivation System" and colonialism in general. More recently, the name Max Havelaar was adopted by one of the first fair trade organizations.
In the late eighteen hundreds, Dutch colonialists established large coffee plantations on the Ijen Plateau in eastern Java. However, disaster struck in the 1876, when the coffee rust disease swept through Indonesia, wiping out most of Typica cultivar. Robusta coffee (C. canephor var. robusta) was introduced to East Java in 1900 as a substitute, especially at lower altitudes, where the rust was particularly devastating. In the 1920s smallholders throughout Indonesia began to grow coffee as a cash crop.
The plantations on Java were nationalized at independence and revitalized with new varieties of Coffea arabica in the 1950s. These varieties were also adopted by smallholders through the government and various development programs.
In the early days, the prominent coffee under Dutch rule was Coffea arabica. The coffee was introduced to the archipelago via Ceylon (modern day Sri Lanka). The Dutch Colonial Government initially planted coffee around Batavia (Jakarta), and as far south as Sukabumi and Bogor, in the 17th century. Coffee plantations were also established in East Java, Central Java, West Java and in parts of Sumatra and Sulawesi. Coffee at the time was also grown in East Indonesia- East Timor and Flores. Both of these islands were originally under Portuguese control and the coffee was also C. arabica, but from different root stocks. The coffee in Eastern Indonesia was not affected to the same degree by rust, and even today, some coffee in East Timor can be traced back to the 16th and 17th century.
A rust plague in the late 1880s killed off much of the plantation stocks in Sukabumi, before spreading to Central Java and parts of East Java. Around the start of the 20th century, the C. arabica crops were devastated by coffee rust, wiping out the bulk of the Dutch root-stocks. The Dutch responded by replacing the C. arabica firstly with Coffea liberica (a tough, but somewhat unpalatable coffee) and later with Coffea robusta. The popularity of this species was short lived as it was also affected by disease. The C. liberica cherry can still be found throughout Java, but is seldom used as a commercial crop in Indonesia. The C. liberica bean is much larger than either the arabica or the robusta cherry; however, it shares more in common cupping wise with robusta.
Today, more than 90% of Indonesia’s coffee is grown by smallholders on farms averaging one hectare or less. Much of the production is organic and 19 farmers’ cooperatives and exporters are internationally certified to market organic coffee.
There are more than 20 varieties of Coffea arabica being grown commercially in Indonesia. They fall into six main categories:
- Typica – this is the original cultivar introduced by the Dutch. Much of the Typica was lost in the late 1880s, when Coffee Leaf Rust swept through Indonesia. However, both the Bergandal and Sidikalang varieties of Typica can still be found in Sumatra, especially at higher altitudes.
- Hibrido de Timor (HDT) – This variety, which is also called "Tim Tim", is a natural cross between Arabica and Robusta. This variety originated likely from a single coffee tree planted in 1917–18 or 1926. The HDT was planted in Aceh in 1979.
- Linie S – This is a group of varieties was originally developed in India, from the Bourbon cultivar. The most common are S-288 and S-795, which are found in Lintong, Aceh, Flores and other areas.
- Ethiopian lines – These include Rambung and Abyssinia, which were brought to Java in 1928. Since then, they have been brought to Aceh as well. Another group of Ethiopian varieties found in Sumatra are called "USDA", after an American project that brought them to Indonesia in the 1950s.
- Caturra cultivars: Caturra is a mutation of Bourbon coffee, which originated in Brazil.
- Catimor lines – This cross between arabica and robusta has a reputation for poor flavour. However, there are numerous types of Catimor, including one that farmers have named "Ateng-Jaluk". On-going research in Aceh has revealed locally adapted Catimor varieties with excellent cup characteristics.
Sumatra, Mandheling, Lintong and Gayo
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Coffee from this western-most island in Indonesia is intriguing and complex, due to the large number of small-holder producers and the unique "giling basah" (wet hulling) processing technique they use. At the green bean stage, coffee from this area has a distinctive bluish colour, which is attributed to processing method and lack of iron in the soil.
Coffees from Sumatra are known for smooth, sweet body that is balanced and intense. Depending on the region, or blend of regions, the flavours of the land and processing can be very pronounced. Notes of cocoa, tobacco, smoke, earth and cedar wood can show well in the cup. Occasionally, Sumatran coffees can show greater acidity, which balances the body. This acidity takes on tropical fruit notes and sometimes an impression of grapefruit or lime.
Mandheling is a trade name, used for arabica coffee from northern Sumatra. It was derived from the name of the Mandailing people, who produce coffee in the Tapanuli region of Sumatra. Mandheling coffee comes from Northern Sumatra, as well as Aceh.
Lintong coffee is grown in the District of Lintongnihuta, to the south-west of Lake Toba. This large lake is one of the deepest in the world, at 505 meters. The coffee production area is a high plateau, known for its diversity of tree fern species. This area produces 15,000 to 18,000 tons of arabica per year. A neighbouring region, called Sidikilang, also produces arabica coffee.
Gayo Mountain coffee is grown on the hillsides surrounding the town of Takegon and Lake Tawar, at the northern tip of Sumatra, in the region of Aceh. The altitude in the production area averages between 1,110 and 1,300 meters. The coffee is grown by small-holders under shade trees.
Coffee from this region is generally processed at farm-level, using traditional wet methods. Due to the giling basha processing, Gayo Mountain coffee is described as higher toned and lighter bodied than Lintong and Mandheling coffees from further east in Sumatra.
Sulawesi, Toraja, Kalosi, Mamasa and Gowa
The Indonesian island of Sulawesi, formerly called the Celebes, lies to the north of Flores. The primary region for high altitude Arabica production is a mountainous area called Tana Toraja, at the central highlands of South Sulawesi. To the south of Toraja is the region of Enrekang. The capital of this region is Kalosi, which is a well-known brand of speciality coffee. The regions of Mamasa (to the west of Toraja) and Gowa (to the south of Kalosi), also produce arabica, although they are less well known.
Unlike many of Indonesia’s islands, Sulawesi is geologically ancient, dating back more than 100 million years. This long history has resulted in soils with a high iron content – thought to affect coffee flavor.
Sulawesi coffees are clean and sound in the cup. They generally display nutty or warm spice notes, like cinnamon or cardamom. Hints of black pepper are sometimes found. Their sweetness, as with most Indonesian coffees, is closely related to the body of the coffee. The after-taste coats the palate on the finish and is smooth and soft.
Most of Sulawesi's coffee is grown by small-holders, with about 5% coming from seven larger estates. The people of Tana Toraja build distinctively shaped houses and maintain ancient and complex rituals related to death and the afterlife. This respect for tradition is also found in way that small-holders process their coffee. Sulawesi farmers use a unique process called "giling basah" (wet hulling).
West Java is the earliest plantation area acquired by VOC in East Indies back in 18th century. Coffee was planted in Priangan area, such as in Sumedang. Today the Paniis coffee planters cooperation in Sumedang can produce 15 tonnes, 2.5 tonnes of them are produced as kopi luwak. Java's arabica coffee production is centred on the Ijen Plateau, at the eastern end of Java, at an altitude of more than 1,400 meters. The coffee is primarily grown on large estates that were built by the Dutch in the 18th century. The five largest estates are Blawan (also spelled Belawan or Blauan), Jampit (or Djampit), Pancoer (or Pancur), Kayumas and Tugosari, and they cover more than 4,000 hectares.
These estates transport ripe cherries quickly to their mills after harvest. The pulp is then fermented and washed off, using the wet process, with rigorous quality control. This results in coffee with good, heavy body and a sweet overall impression. They are sometimes rustic in their flavour profiles, but display a lasting finish. At their best, they are smooth and supple and sometimes have a subtle herbaceous note in the after-taste.
This coffee is prized as one component in the traditional “Mocca Java” blend, which pairs coffee from Yemen and Java. Certain estates age a portion of their coffee for up to five years, normally in large burlap sacks, which are regularly aired, dusted, and flipped. As they age, the beans turn from green to light brown, and their flavour gains strength while losing acidity. Aged coffees can display flavours ranging from cedar to spices such as cinnamon or clove, and often develop a thick, almost syrupy body. These aged coffees are called Old Government, Old Brown or Old Java.
The highland plateau of Kintamani, between the volcanoes of Batukaru and Agung, is the main coffee growing area. Many coffee farmers on Bali are members of a traditional farming system called Subak Abian, which is based on the Hindu philosophy of "Tri Hita Karana". According to this philosophy, the three causes of happiness are good relations with God, other people and the environment. The Subak Abian system is ideally suited to the production of fair trade and organic coffee production.
Stakeholders in Bali, including the Subak Abian, have created Indonesia's first Geographic Indication (G.I.). Once it is recognized by the government, this G.I. will protect Kintamani coffee from blending or mis-labeling.
Generally, Balinese coffee is carefully processed under tight control, using the wet method. This results in a sweet, soft coffee with good consistency. Typical flavours include lemon and other citrus notes.
The western slopes of Mount Tambora in Sanggar peninsula is the main coffee-growing area in Sumbawa island, thus the coffee from this area is marketed as Tambora coffee. The intensive coffee plantation were begun in colonial era after the area was cleared up because of the eruption of Tambora volcano in 1815. However archaeological findings discover some coffee seeds in Tambora culture sites suggesting the local Tambora and Pekat kingdoms already cultivating the seeds acquired from Dutch East Indies Company, grow and harvest them and trade with them.
Flores (or Flower) Island is 360 miles long, and is located 200 miles to the east of Bali. The terrain of Flores is rugged, with numerous active and inactive volcanoes. Ash from these volcanoes has created especially fertile Andosols, ideal for organic coffee production. Arabica coffee is grown at 1,200 to 1,800 meters on hillsides and plateaus. Most of the production is grown under shade trees and wet processed at farm level. Coffee from Flores is known for sweet chocolate, floral and woody notes.
New Guinea is the second largest island in the world. The western half of New Guinea is part of Indonesia. The Indonesian half of the island was formerly called "Irian Jaya". Today, it is known as Papua, and it is divided into two provinces – Papua and West Papua.
There are two main coffee growing areas in Papua. The first is the Baliem Valley, in the central highlands of the Jayawijaya region, surrounding the town of Wamena. The second is the Kamu Valley in the Nabire Region, at the eastern edge of the central highlands, surrounding the town of Moanemani. Both areas lie at altitudes between 1,400 and 2000 meters, creating ideal conditions for Arabica production.
Together, these areas produce about 230 tons of coffee per year. This is set to rise, as new companies are setting up buying and processing operations. One of them is Koperasi Serba Usaha Baliem Arabica or commonly known in Indonesia as Koperasi Serba Usaha Baliem Arabica. These companies are assisting farmers to obtain organic and fair trade certification, which will significantly improve incomes. The area is extremely remote, with most coffee growing areas inaccessible by road and nearly untouched by the modern world.
All coffee is shade grown under Calliandra, Erythrina and Albizia trees. Farmers in Papua use a wet hulled process. Chemical fertilizer pesticide and herbicide are unknown in this origin, which makes this coffee both rare and valuable.
Harvesting and processing
All arabica coffee in Indonesia is picked by hand, whether it is grown by small-holders or on medium-sized estates. After harvest, the coffee is processed in a variety of ways, each imparting its own flavours and aromas to the final product.
A small number of farmers in Sulawesi, Flores and Bali use the most traditional method of all, dry processing. The coffee cherries are dried in the sun, and then de-hulled in a dry state.
Most farmers on Sulawesi, Sumatra, Flores, and Papua use a unique process, called "giling basah" (or wet hulling). In this technique, farmers remove the outer skin from the cherries mechanically, using rustic pulping machines, called "luwak". The coffee beans, still coated with mucilage, are then stored for up to a day. Following this waiting period, the mucilage is washed off and the coffee is partially dried for sale.
Collectors and processors then hull the coffee in a semi-wet state, which gives the beans a distinctive bluish-green appearance. This process reduces acidity and increases body, resulting in the classic Indonesian cup profile.
Larger processing mills, estates and some farmers' cooperatives on Sumatra, Java, Sulawesi and Bali produce “fully washed” coffee.
The most unusual form of coffee processing in Indonesia is "Kopi Luwak". This coffee is processed by the Asian Palm Civet (Paradoxurus hermaphoditus). The animals eat ripe coffee cherries and their digestive process removes the outer layers of the fruit. The remaining coffee beans are collected and washed. Coffee experts[who?] believe that the unique flavour of Kopi Luwak comes, at least in part, from the extraction of naturally occurring potassium salts from the beans during the digestive process. This results in a smooth, mild cup, with a sweet after-taste. Kopi Luwak is very rare, and can retail for more than $600 per kilogram.
The Indonesian Coffee and Cocoa Research Institute (ICCRI) is located in Jember, Java. Current activities of ICCRI in the coffee sector include:
- Land mapping to identify new areas for coffee production
- Research on coffee diseases and identification of resistant planting material
- Farmer training on improved production and processing techniques
- Supply of coffee seedlings for improved varieties
- Supply of coffee processing and testing equipment
The Agribusiness Market and Support Activity (AMARTA) is conducting research on the effectiveness of the Brocap Trap technology in Toraja, Sidikilang and Gayo. This trap is designed to catch the Coffee Cherry Borer (CCB) insect, a major pest in coffee. It was developed by CIRAD, a French agricultural research institute. Brocap traps have been extensively adopted by coffee farmers in Central America
Indonesia's coffee industry is represented by two associations. The Association of Indonesian Coffee Exporters (AICE), also known by its Indonesian acronym "AEKI", is composed of Arabica and Robusta coffee exporters. AICE was founded in 1979 and it issues compulsory export licenses for coffee.
The Specialty Coffee Association of Indonesia (SCAI) formed in 2008. SCAI members focus exclusively on the production, export and marketing of Indonesia's arabica coffees. This includes farmers' cooperatives with 8,050 members, exporters, roasters, importers and coffee retailers in the Arabic coffee industry.
Current status of the industry
Coffea robusta replaced C. liberica and is still the stock crop today. It is not the coffee Indonesia is famous for, but makes up some 88% of exports from the country.
Disaster (disease and natural), World War II and the struggle for independence all played a big part in the changes that are seen in Indonesian coffee today. In the early part of the 20th century, the coffee industry was controlled by Dutch plantation owners and the colonial government. Infrastructure was developed in East and Central Java in particular to make the shipping of commodities such as coffee as easy as possible. Prior to World War II, Central Java in particular had a very strong rail transportation system that brought coffee, sugar, pepper, tea and tobacco out of the province to the port city of Semarang. Coffee in Central Java was primarily robusta, while the government estates (Kayu Mas, Blewan, Jampit) in East Java were arabica. The mountain area stretching from Jember in East Java through to the port of Banyuwangi was heavily planted in both C. arabica and C. robusta. Arabica was farmed on plantations at higher elevations, while robusta was grown at lower elevations.
In January 2007, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) reported that land was illegally cleared for coffee farming in Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park on the island of Sumatra. The protected park is home to endangered tigers, elephants and rhinos, and WWF predicts that these species will be extinct in a decade should the clearing and farming continue. WWF states that the illegal coffee is sold to Western companies such as Nestlé and Kraft Foods.
After independence, the plantations throughout Indonesia either came under the control of the new government or were abandoned. Today close to 92% of coffee production is in the hands of small farmers or cooperatives.
- Growing areas
Coffea robusta is grown at lower altitudes than C. arabica. The island of Sumatra is the largest producer, with the provinces of Lampung, South Sumatra and Bengkulu accounting for 75% of C. canephora production. Smaller volumes are grown in Kalimantan, Sulawesi, Bali and Flores.
- Production and processing
Robusta is grown on small farms that average one hectare. The crop is harvested by stripping off all the fruit on the branch, resulting in a mix of ripe and green cherries. The unripe cherries are one reason that robusta coffee tastes bitter. Farmers dry the coffee cherries whole, for up to three weeks. After the drying, the dry cherries are hulled. Farmers sell the cherries to collectors, who sell them to the exporters. The exporters dry the crop to 12 to 13% moisture, and it is then sorted and graded. Exports are usually made in break bulk shipments, rather than in containers as with C. arabica.
A small portion of the crop is harvested and processed more like C. arabica. Only ripe cherries are harvested and these are processed by washing. Prices for "fully washed" robusta are close to arabica prices.
Most of Indonesia's robusta is used in instant coffee and other manufactured products. The domestic market consumes about 150,000 metric tons of robusta annually. Export coffee is sold through the New York Coffee Exchange (NYCE). The main markets are the United States, western Europe and Japan. Demand from emerging markets such as Russia, China, Taiwan, South Korea and Malaysia is increasing.
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- World Wildlife Fund Borneo & Sumatra Coffee Report