Part 2 in our Best Coffee Nations Around the Globe Series
The Competition for Coffee Supremacy
Great coffee is produced all over the world, primarily in equatorial regions. There will always be arguments around which country has the best coffee culture, which country is the greatest producer of coffee beans, and which country has the best roasters.
We’ll explore the arguments for Indonesia - with a focus on the regions of Sumatra, Java and Bali - as the best coffee country in the world.
Full-Bodied, Mild Flavors make for Calm Drinks
It can be hard to generalize Indonesian coffee as the country is made up of hundreds of islands - and the diversity of coffee can be as broad as the country’s ecology.
However, if you were to try and pull it together, Indonesian coffee (specifically the Arabica) tends to be low acidic and have a gentleness to it.
This can give it mild flavors and make for a calm drinking experience, and within the regions, my favorite are the Balinese coffees even more so than the Sumatran.
Major Robusta Producer
Indonesia is one of the world’s largest producers of Robusta coffee. It has some typical usages as well as some less expected usages that really add to the specialty coffee market.
The first place that Robusta goes is into the local coffee market. Local consumption tends to lean towards instant coffee and Robusta is used almost exclusively in Indonesia to create instant coffee.
Additionally, a lesser known usage for Robusta coffee is in espresso blends! It adds three elements to espresso blends that give them additional complexity.
- Additional crema - Robusta beans tend to form more crema than Arabica beans. This is even more true in coffee that has sat on the shelf for 3-4+ weeks. This helps give espresso additional shelf life while still forming an appealing cup.
- Added caffeine content - Robusta has a higher concentration of caffeine than Arabica coffee. By creating a blend between the two, you have increased the caffeine content of the blend.
- Flavor depth - while Robusta beans tend to be harsher and more acidic, they bring additional flavors to the party. Because Indonesia Arabica coffee tends to be mild, and full-bodied it can handle a subtle mix of Robusta coffee without it being overpowered.
These are just two of the uses for Indonesia’s Robusta production - which makes up 75% of all coffee produced in Indonesia!
Indonesia Java has literally become a synonym for coffee
The Java region within Indonesia has been producing coffee since before 1700. The name has become synonymous with coffee all over the world. This gives Indonesia an awful lot of coffee credibility.
What is interesting is that the Java region produces primarily Robusta coffee at this point in time. This is due to coffee leaf rust that destroyed much of the coffee crop on the island all the way back in the 1880’s. Arabica trees were replaced with varieties that carried more disease resistance (Robusta, Liberica) but are unfortunately less desired.
There are still a few plantations that grow specialty-grade, Arabica beans and one use is to mix those with beans from Mocha to create Mocha Java blends.
Balinese Blue Moon Coffee is a rare delicacy
The Bali Blue Moon coffee is a unique, and special Arabica bean produced by smallholding farmers on the Indonesian island of Bali. This specialty coffee is grown in one of many extremely fertile areas of volcanic soil in the Balinese highlands.
It gets its name from the beautiful, subtle blue hue of the dry coffee bean before roasting.
We have a beautiful Bali Blue Moon medium-dark roast that has been one of our most popular coffees since we first opened. It makes for a fantastic French Press in the morning.
Bali Blue Moon Coffee - Dark Roast, Single Origin
Story of the Roast The famous blue ocean of Bali, Indonesia, paints a relaxing scene but it's the initial color of the beans that gives rise to the name of this dark roast coffee. This amazing coffee bean actually has... read more
Uniform, Natural Farming Processes
Recently, the growing area of Arabica coffee in Bali is estimated at 7,500 hectares.
The farming techniques in Indonesian coffee farms - specifically in the Kintamani highlands - are very uniform relative to other parts of the world.
Often, they take the manure produced onsite at their own farm - across multiple animals - and they never use pesticides. It is a very organic process. Most coffees hailing from Indonesia, specifically Bali, are organically grown. Even if the producer doesn’t have the financial means to go through the certification process, there is often a chance it is still organic.
In this part of the world, there is also a heavy reliance on shade trees planted throughout the farms. Farms in Indonesia generally shade between 30% - 50% of the sun’s intensity to help increase the quality of the coffee cherries.
Is Indonesian Coffee the Best?
That is really for you to decide - as with most things coffee, it is a matter of preference. Indonesia certainly has some of the best coffee in the world, and I think that’s easy enough to see, but it isn’t a uniform, specialty coffee culture like Costa Rica. It is diverse in its production across the islands and yields many outcomes that go along with its rich history.
Before you go, take a look at Indonesia’s best with our single-origin Bali Blue Moon coffee from the Kintamani highlands before you leave. It’s a full-bodied, dark-to-medium roasted coffee that is well-suited to French Press and other direct brewing methods. It makes a great case for Indonesia as the best coffee country in the world.