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Indonesia

We offer coffees from different regions of Indonesia, each with its own distinctive profile. Our Java is a washed coffee, which gives it a very clean profile with bright acidity because the coffee beans are completely removed from the cherry before drying.

On the other hand, our coffee from Sumatra is processed using a semi-washed method, sometimes called “pulp natural.” In this process, only the coffee cherry’s outer skin is removed before drying; the mucilage — the fruity part under the skin — is left intact, and the beans dry inside it. In other parts of the world, when the pulp natural method is used, the beans are typically spread out over fabric or a concrete or stone patio to dry. But in the traditional Sumatran method, the “patio” is made of dirt — in other words, the coffee beans are dried directly on the ground. Coffee absorbs the flavors and aromas it comes into contact with, so when we describe our Sumatran coffee as “earthy,” we mean it quite literally! It’s also spicy and full-bodied, with a classic Indonesian profile. Our coffee from the Sulawesi region is processed the same way as our Sumatran coffee, yet its earthiness is subtler and it has a crisp, refreshing character.

About Indonesian coffee
Coffee was first brought to Indonesia in the 1600s by the Dutch East India Company in an attempt to break the Arab monopoly on coffee for the export market. Coffee cultivation took hold in various parts of Indonesia including Java, but a couple centuries after it was first introduced, a fungus called coffee rust decimated Indonesian coffee cultivation. In response, Indonesia’s colonial government imported coffee of the Robusta species, which was more disease resistant but produced a product inferior to the Arabica species coffee trees originally cultivated on the islands. Although some coffee plantation owners chose to diversify and plant rubber, tea or other crops rather than the new Robusta coffee trees, many did plant the new coffee. Even today, about 90% of Indonesian coffee is from the Robusta species, now commonly used for commercial-grade coffee. The Indonesian coffees offered by The Roasterie consist of only top quality Arabica coffee beans.

Indonesia’s coffee regions
Of the three main coffee producing regions of Indonesia, Java is the most productive and is noted for high quality Arabica coffee with a clean, fruity profile and bright acidity.

On the island of Sulawesi, formerly called Celebes, coffee grows in the Toraja Highlands at an elevation of about 5,000 feet. Yields are low and the coffee is excellent, so it’s in high demand among coffee aficionados, especially in Japan.

Another highly sought after Indonesian coffee is Mandheling, grown on Sumatra. This is one of Indonesia’s distinctive “earthy” coffees. However, as tastes change in favor of lighter, fruitier coffees, more Sumatran coffee producers are processing their coffees to match what’s in fashion, and fewer are using the traditional methods that produce the unique earthy, spicy character that has long been a hallmark of Sumatran coffee. But you can still find the classic Sumatra Mandelhing here at The Roasterie.

Indonesia’s weirdest coffee
A discussion of Indonesian coffee may not be complete without mentioning kopi luwak. Kopi luwak is not among the coffees offered by The Roasterie, but we feel it is worthy of comment, if only for the sheer strangeness of it.

Traditionally, nearly all of the work of producing this coffee — harvesting, quality control, fermentation, hulling — was done by a small, furry nocturnal creature called a luwak.

The luwak apparently has very discriminating taste. It eats lizards, eggs, insects, and especially fruit. The luwak is picky; it is known for avoiding fruit that isn’t ripe. One of its favorite fruits is the coffee cherry. It eats the whole cherry — only the best ones, it is said, and only when they’re perfectly ripe — and excretes the intact beans in its dung.

The beans retrieved from the wild luwak’s dung were considered a delicacy and sold at exorbitant prices. But today, the coffee is produced by force-feeding captive luwaks coffee cherries of varying quality and degree of ripeness. This defeats the luwak’s natural talent for choosing only the best ripe cherries, resulting in an inferior product (still sold at exorbitant prices). What’s worse, we think it’s pretty cruel, and for this reason we don’t condone the practice of producing or selling kopi luwak.

But we do recommend the Indonesian coffees offered here, which have achieved excellence without ever having journeyed through a woodland creature’s digestive system.

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  • Java Estate

    Java Estate

    Java Estate

    A sweet and light acidity complements ripe cherry and Georgia peach notes, rounded out in the finish by bittersweet cocoa and mustard seed undertones. 

    $13.75
  • Sumatra Fair Trade Organic

    Sumatra Fair Trade Organic

    Sumatra Fair Trade Organic

    Altitude: 3600-4800 feet

    Varietal: Bourbon, Catimor, Typica

    Region: Aceh, Wonosari, Sumatra, Indonesia

    Producer: Ketiara Cooperative

    $14.65
  • Sumatra Wonosari

    Sumatra Wonosari

    Sumatra Wonosari

    Altitude: 4200-4500 feet

    Varietal: Jember, Alteng, Typica

    Region: Bener Meriah, Aceh, Wonosari

    Producer: SariMakmur TunggalMandiri

    $13.27

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