For the love of local coffee
How Indonesians are getting get back in touch with specialty coffee, propelling the popularity of local beans.
Anastasia Astuti says that, to her surprise, she couldn’t go on without a cup of locally brewed coffee. “Having been introduced to Indonesian specialty beans, which have a wonderfully delicious taste, in mid-2015, I can no longer stand the awful taste of instant coffee,” the 35-year-old said, adding that she dismissed criticism from her friends, who now called her a coffee snob. Anastasia is not imagining things. Ve Handojo, the writer who co-founded the ABCD School of Coffee, says that there’s a difference between specialty and commodity beans. Specialty beans have a pedigree: You know where they’re planted, at what height the beans are cultivated and how the beans harvested and processed. This type of coffee also has a roasting profile, designed to extract maximum taste from the beans. “Consumers now understand how rich Indonesia is, with coffee coming from Gayo, Aceh, Toraja and many more places,” he said. Each bean variety has a distinct blend of flavors coming from its terroir, a French term referring to the natural conditions in which grape vines are cultivated to make wine. The concept holds true for coffee, too. According to tanameracoffee. com, Gayo coffee has Earthly notes with dark chocolaty and spicy nuances, while the Sumatran Mandhelling has a more floral, citrus berry and caramel-like palatial touch to it. It’s an amazing diversity, taking into consideration that they both come from the northern part of Sumatra. No wonder so specialty coffee fans are hooked, Ve says. “They become more curious to try and find out the flavor differences among the different single-origin coffee variants.” Widya Rahayu, 27, works in quality controller for a local firm and is curious about coffee. “I like to explore the different Indonesian single-origin coffee choices offered in different cafes. Whether I go with a friend or alone, I don’t mind. I explore these coffee shops to appreciate the flavors of the specialty coffee they offer,” she said. Coffee shops have been flourishing, while the Industry Ministry says that domestic single-origin coffee consumption is increasing 7.5 percent a year. Recently, Indonesia has ranked as high as third on the list of the world’s biggest coffee producers, after Brazil and Vietnam, with an annual production capacity of approximately 748,000 tons. According to Ve, the origins of the coffee craze can be traced to the arrival of global chain Starbucks in 2002. “Specialty coffee was thrust into wild popularity in 2014 when the A Bunch of Caffeine Dealers [ABCD] community in Pasar Santa brought it closer to the public through coffee gathering events inside the traditional market,” Vu said, referring to the traditional market with a hipster following. Other coffee shops, such as Ruang Seduh in Jakarta and Tirtodipuran in Yogyakarta, have since followed suit, inviting customers to explore different bean types and even brew their own cups of Java. So this is why you see more people buying their own packaged coffee beans, intent on grinding and brewing the beans themselves. They’re looking for a daily caffeine fix.
Tasting a bit of java at a booth run by the Indonesia Coffee Workshop for the World, as part of the Habibie Festival, in 2016.