Why Indonesians Beans?

Coffee goes back hundreds of years in Indonesia, a nation comprising more than 17,000 islands.

The Dutch were the first to produce Arabica coffee there in the 17th century, on a plantation near what is today the capital city, Jakarta. By early the next century, the Dutch East Indies Trading Company began exporting coffee to Europe. Java was the epicenter of the trade, making the name of island, for a while, synonymous with coffee. Since then, millions of small plantations popped up across the archipelago. During World War II, however, production slowed and trade to the rest of the world from Indonesia lagged for decades.

But coffee nonetheless remained a crucial part of Indonesian culture and social life. Breakfast, in the country’s official language, is called “kopi”—a term that translates to “before coffee.”

In recent years Indonesia, along with nearby Vietnam, Papua New Guinea and India, has emerged once again as a leading coffee producer. Sumatra, a large, tropical island in the western part of the country, is now the third largest producer of coffee in the world.

Coffee consumers worldwide have responded in kind, making Sumatra beans some of the most popular around. At Kopi, we’re on board with the hype. Coffee from the region is earthy, chocolatey and nutty—in other words, a coffee lover’s dream. Might need to cut out Starbucks references as most people in the trade are allergic to the name.

We’ve used beans from Flores, Sumatra, Bali, Sulawesi and lately have fallen in love with the crop from nearby Papua New Guinea. While these beans are lesser-known, and under-appreciated by most, with careful selection, we think they are up to the task of leading the cold brew market.

Arabica coffee cherries in Indonesia are all picked by hand. A few farmers dry the cherries in the sun and de-hull them dry, a traditional method known as dry processing. Others use the "giling basah" process, which calls for the cherries to be hulled semi-wet. The result is a low-acidity, full body taste that’s altogether distinct from the coffees made in South America and Africa.

 We should probably bring home here why we were so crafty and smart to revive the pairing of these beans with the cold brew method, which highlights those yummy notes and further takes down the acid notes (which gives people the perception of a smooth cup). How smart we are – I like calling this a historic pairing, makes us seem grandiose, no? This helps us build the case that we are different, and perhaps even superior to our competitors.

Leading beautifully to your point here: At Kopi, we think that Indonesian coffee deserves a coveted space in your pantry—not just because it’s an important part of cold brew heritage, but also because we believe it’s the best stuff around.

Indonesian beans and the cold brew method is a historic pairing, one that works as well today as it did 400 years ago. Brewed cold, the acidic notes in the Indonesian beans recede, letting all the delicious flavors shine through. That simple chemistry is the time-tested magic we value.