Indonesia is a Southeast Asian and Oceanic archipelago country that straddles the equator between the Indian and Pacific oceans. It is most known for its abundance of volcanoes and vast biodiversity. Small coffee farms are scattered throughout the mountains of the main islands.
The taste of Indonesian coffee is very distinct. You’ll find that not everyone is a big fan of Indonesian coffee flavors, while others may rant and rave about its bold and deep-tasting notes.
We’re here to help you learn more about what you might find if you’re looking to buy some beans from Indonesian coffee brands.
- Organic Coffee Co. – Sumatra Mandheling
- Coffee Bean Direct – Dark Sulawesi Kalossi
- Pure Origin Coffee – Organic Indonesia
- Java Planet – Sumatra Organic
- Fresh Roasted Coffee – Java Taman Dadar
About Indonesian Coffee
Coffee arrived in Indonesia in the 1600s when Dutch colonists introduced the Arabica coffee plant to one of its islands called Java. Indonesian coffee was commercially exported by the 1700s and spread to other main islands by the next century.
Most Indonesian coffees were grown on larger plantations until the early 20th century. Indonesia suffered from a large sweep of coffee leaf rust in 1900, which damaged a large portion of the crops.
This is when the Robusta bean variety was introduced, as it is less susceptible to diseases.
More Arabica varieties were introduced in the mid-1900s. There were more small-scale farms than large plantations. Many smallholder farms produce organic beans.
Where Is Indonesian Coffee Grown?
The equator cuts right through Indonesia, which places this archipelago in the “Bean Belt”. This zone includes any countries or regions that are close enough to the equator to have prime coffee-growing conditions.
Most of the coffee farms in Indonesia are also located on mountain ranges and volcanic soils. Indonesia is famous for its abundance of volcanoes.
More than 120 volcanoes are scattered throughout the islands, many of which are still active. The volcanic soils provide rich nutrients for coffee plants to develop really well.
Indonesia is made up of more than 17,000 islands, but only about 6,000 are inhabited. Coffee is grown on some of the largest islands in the country.
The main coffee-producing islands of Indonesia, which are also the largest, include:
Sumatra is a popular label for Indonesian coffee blends. Many coffee brands have Sumatra beans, such as Starbucks’ single-origin Sumatra dark roast. Java and Sulawesi are also commonly seen on labels.
Other Indonesian islands, such as Bali, Timor, Flores, and Papua also produce and export coffee.
The islands of Indonesia are very mountainous and have lots of dense forests. The highest peaks on the main large islands range between 2,900 and 3,800 meters above sea level.
Coffee farms that are no more than two acres can be found scattered along the highlands.
Indonesian Coffee Flavour Profiles
Indonesian coffee flavors are very complex and bold. They are easily distinguishable from other beans around the world.
Each of the islands has some special tasting notes or characteristics that other islands may not have, but there is a common flavor profile amongst most Indonesian beans.
Common flavor profiles that you’ll likely see in Indonesian coffee brands include:
- Dark chocolate or cocoa
These flavors are very deep and rich. Some people may not enjoy the deep and bold flavor that Indonesian beans offer, but they’re definitely something that’s worth a try.
Other common characteristics of Indonesian coffee may include a thick and full-bodied cup, low acidity, and rustic flavors.
Sumatra beans usually make a full-bodied cup with bitter dark chocolate, earthy, and chili spice notes. They are also lower in acidity.
Most Sumatra coffee is grown in volcanic soils along mountain ranges in the North Sumatra regions of Aceh, Gayo, and Lintong.
The island of Java hosts many smallholder coffee farms scattered throughout the volcanic lands of the Ijen Plateau in the east.
The rich nutrients create beans that produce a full-bodied cup with rich dark chocolate and chili-tasting notes. Although still low in acidity, these beans tend to be more acidic than other islands.
Sulawesi coffee is commonly referred to as Celebes or Toraja coffee. This island produces beans that have strong earthy notes with some dark chocolate and spicy undertones.
Sulawesi beans produce a full-bodied cup that is very rich but still has a slightly acidic finish that brightens the cup. Most of the beans are grown in South Sulawesi amongst the Toraja Highlands.
What to Look for When Buying Indonesian Coffee
The first thing you want to look for in Indonesian coffee brands is the origin. Sumatra blends are very popular, but some coffee companies may blend their own beans with Sumatra beans.
If you want authentic Indonesian coffee flavors, you might want to look for beans that are single-origin from one of the main coffee-producing islands.
The flavor profiles for Indonesian coffee are pretty consistent across each of the islands. Flavor profiles you may want to look for when buying Indonesian coffee brands include earthy, spicy, dark chocolate or cocoa, woody, and tobacco.
Any flavors that are way outside of this range may hint that the beans are blended with something else and not single-origin.
There may be some specialty Indonesian coffees that produce other flavors, but they more than likely will resemble or complement the deep and rich flavor notes Indonesian coffee is known for.
You may want to keep an eye on bean varieties when shopping for Indonesian coffee brands. The majority of Indonesian coffee produced and exported is Robusta beans. Arabica beans are mostly produced in the volcanic mountainous regions at higher elevations.
Robusta is common in highland areas as well, but they are also found along much of the lowlands. For example, North Sumatra produces mostly Arabica beans, while South Sumatra produces Robusta. Other islands, such as Java, produce both varieties.
If you’re not a fan of Robusta beans, you might want to pay special attention to the bean varieties. Some coffee bags may also have a mixture of the two. If you’re looking for pure Arabica beans, it’s best to find the “100% Arabica” label on the bag.
5 Indonesian Coffee Brands to Try
1. Organic Coffee Co. – Sumatra Mandheling
- Strictly High Grown
- Bold flavors
- 100% Arabica
- Darker roast for a light-medium roast
- Slightly bitter
Organic Coffee Co. Sumatra Mandheling is an organic medium roast with bold flavors and low acidity. It is grown in the Aceh region of North Sumatra at elevations between 1,200 and 2,000 meters above sea level.
These beans consist of Tim-Tim, Gayo 1, and Gayo 2 Arabica varieties. They produce a bold and full-bodied cup of coffee with deep chocolate and cinnamon spice notes, and subtle hints of cherry.
2. Coffee Bean Direct – Dark Sulawesi Kalossi
- Bold and smooth
- 100% Arabica beans
- Rich flavor
- Earthy flavor can be bitter
Made from 100% Arabica beans, Dark Sulawesi Kalossi is a smooth dark roast with bold, earthy flavors. It has some subtle hints of spice and is low in acidity.
The fragrance of the beans gives off a nice, exotic aroma. This coffee might be great if you’re looking for a bold, full-bodied cup with a deep earthy flavor.
3. Pure Origin Coffee – Organic Indonesia
- Organic and fair trade
- Ground (may affect freshness and flavor)
Pure Origin Coffee specializes in single-origin beans and offers Organic Indonesia coffee. This coffee is grown in the North Sumatra region of Gayo.
It is a dark roast that produces a smooth flavor. It’s low in acidity and has deep chocolate-tasting notes. It comes already ground, which can affect the freshness and overall boldness of flavor.
4. Java Planet – Sumatra Organic
- Pure Indonesian coffee flavors
- Grown at high altitudes
- Smooth and aromatic
- Somewhat bitter
Java Planet Sumatra Organic is a full-bodied dark roast made from 100% Arabica beans. The coffee plants are grown at high altitudes on the island of Sumatra.
These Sumatra beans have a nice aroma and low acidity. Flavors to expect with this roast are smooth chocolate and caramel notes with an earthy undertone. The earthiness combined with the darker roast can make it somewhat bitter.
Java Taman Dadar is a medium roast coffee from smallholders located in the regions of Curah Tatal and Kayumas in East Java. The beans are slightly oily and produce a heavy-bodied cup.
This organic coffee is rich with deep-tasting notes of chocolate and cedar. The bold flavors may produce a slightly bitter aftertaste.
Overview: Indonesian Coffee Brands
Indonesian coffee is quite different from many other coffee flavor profiles you may see around the world. The beans have a very bold and earthy taste, often complemented by chocolate or spicy undertones.
The flavor profiles of Indonesian beans can be a bit overwhelming, and some may have a bitter aftertaste. The tasting notes are ideal for darker roasts, but this can enhance some of the bitterness in the beans.
If you want the full Indonesian coffee flavor experience, we suggest trying the Organic Coffee Co. Sumatra Mandheling.
The Sumatra Mandheling is 100% Arabica beans that are Strictly High Grown, which enhances the quality of the cup. It has bold chocolate and cinnamon spice notes, which complement each other very well.
This is a great option if you want to try single-origin Indonesian coffee, but don’t want to dive into the more overwhelming earthy or smoky flavors yet.