The Value Of The Indonesian Coffee Trade
Indonesia is a big exporter of coffee, in fact it is currently the third largest exporter of coffee in the world. This has followed a big drive by the government after they had previously been seen as too dependent on oil. As well as coffee therefore the region is a big exporter of tobacco, tea, palm oil, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg and cane sugar.
Some of the finest coffees you will see in your coffee shop you may also see referred to as Mandheling, Ankola and Lintong. They are also available as both fair trade and organic. Mandheling coffee is named after the Sumatran Mandaling people and is seen as one of the world’s best coffees. It grows at 5,000 feet near Padang in west central Indonesia.
Lintong coffee comes from the north whilst Ankola is grown near the port of Padang at elevations from 2500 ft.
The Taste of Sumatran Coffee Beans
The word that best describes Sumatran coffee is full bodied. It is quite earthy and has low acidity. Mandheling beans are described as complex and intense with a chocolate sweet flavour. Beans from Lintong have medium body and are quite sweet with low acidity.
Java beans come from the island of Java from the east side at elevations of 1400 metres. Many view the finest coffee from Java to come from plantations on the five largest estates that were set up by the Dutch in the 18th century when Java was part of the Dutch East Indies. The largest plantation has a staggering 4000 hectares of coffee.
Monsooning is a very common procedure in Java. As the title suggests, this is where the coffee bean is exposed to water for long periods which is said to develop really full flavours. You may see this in your coffee shop called Monsson Malabar.
The Taste of Java Coffee
Java tends to be very heavy, with what can be described as a rustic flavour. There is a herbaceous aftertaste and less acidity. You may have seen Java Blue sometimes available, but it is not always a secure producer. People also describe Java as having a slightly smoky, spicy taste. This is loved by some but we must say that some people do found this is a bit overpowering at first.
The best known Sulawesi coffee is the Toraja. This bean is grown in the south-eastern highlands on the island of Sulawesi at relatively high altitude. The island used to be known as Celebes which was its Dutch colonial name. So for many this coffee is still referred to as Celebes.
The Toraja coffee bean is processed by the Giling Basah wet hull method which produces chaff free green coffee beans.
The Taste of Sulawesi Coffee
Coffee from this island has less body than elsewhere in Indonesia but has more acidity and has overtones of ripe fruit and dark chocolate.