Historically, Indonesian coffees are earthier and heavier bodied in the cup, enhanced by the wet-hulled processing prevalent in the area. Today, they are more popular than ever with coffee connaisseurs. Indonesian coffee is showing up in coffee insider media and third-wave coffee shops everywhere. What's driving this popularity and why is coffee from Indonesia a rising star right now?
Unripe coffee cherries on the farm in Chimbu provence in Papua New Guinea. Most coffee turns red when it is ripe.
Indonesian Coffee is Traditionally Undervalued
Traditionally undervalued in the coffee world, Indonesian coffees have historically been used as filler and cheap additions to add body to blends. Perhaps as recently as 20 years ago, stand out coffees were truly difficult to find in Indonesia, but that is not the case today. Importers and producers have invested in farm and processing infrastructure, allowing farmers to break out of the wet-hulled tradition that still dominates most Indonesian coffee processing.
Investments in Processing Upping Indonesian Washed Coffee Game
We have been buying washed coffees like the Papua New Guinea (PNG) Organic Siane Chimbu for more than a decade and the processing continues to improve. Our coffee importer used to refer to many washed Indonesians as "semi-washed" coffee, because their character in the cup was not as clean as washed coffees from Africa or the Americas. In recent years, however, PNG coffee has become cleaner and cleaner. This PNG's delicate citrus notes now really shine through a creamy body which has always been typical of this coffee.
Another coffee which exemplifies this trend is the Timor-Leste Organic Eratoi Ermera which is a washed coffee that is more cleanly processed than almost any other Indonesian bean that comes into our roastery. It is also more traceable than many Indonesian coffees are historically. The result is a coffee with great balance and refined acidity. We're thrilled to have this coffee come back for a second year on the Trianon bean wall.
Meet Armando, the farmer behind our Timor-Leste Organic Eratoi Ermera Crown Jewel coffee! Having farm-level accountability improves coffee quality.
Our organic Bali Kintimani is another example of how processing has been getting better in Indonesia. This natural-processed coffee is sticky sweet and fruity, defying most people's pre-conceptions of how Indonesian coffee should taste. When we first started roasting this coffee more than five years ago, it had funky earthy undertones that were the result of inconsistent processing. These off flavors sometimes muddied its fruity flavor profile. Every year since, this coffee becomes more and more refined. This year's harvest has the cleanest profile of any of the Kintimanis we've tasted to date.
Wet-hulled Coffee Continues to Shine in Indonesia
Let's not forget the great wet-hulled coffees that continue to come out of Indonesia. Wet-hulling, still the prevalant processing method throughout Indonesia, enhances the earthiness and reduces the acidity of the final brew. Despite the fact that the processing methods haven't changed much for these coffees, the quality of these coffees has also been improving alongside the improvements in coffees processed using other methods.
This is exemplified in 3 coffees from our roastery: Flores, Sulawesi, and Sumatra Dark. The Flores is the lightest of the three with a raw or brown sugar sweetness and a slight nuttiness. The Sulawesi has a buttery character to it's mouth feel with herbal and floral notes. The Sumatra Dark Roast is our heaviest bodied coffee--a classic, robust, earthy Indonesian brew.
These coffees used to receive cupping scores in the low 80's that prevented many roasters from featuring them as single origin coffees. For example, at Trianon, we originally used Sulawesi as a fill-in when Sumatra was hard to find or too expensive and discovered it brewed up wonderfully on its own. Now, these coffees are much more comparably priced and they both stand on their own from a quality perspective. These beans now usually score in the mid-to-high 80's.
Why is this happening now? Scientific advances are more available to everyone in the world because of access to mobile technology. As producers throughout Indonesia refine their processing techniques and the available scientific knowledge about coffee production explodes, we love tasting how the resulting coffees improve with every season.
Trianon Offers an Extensive Selection of Indonesian Coffees
Indonesian beans have great character. Many coffee roasters don't feature them, but we have always stocked them and will continue to do so, especially as Indonesain coffee quality contiues to rise.
A portion of the Bean Wall at Trianon Coffee, circa 2015 in West Lake Hills
If you're interested in trying out some of the coffee we mention in this article, browse the links below. Or come into our coffee shop in the West Lake Hills neighborhood of Austin and one of our friendly baristas will be happy to help.
Coffees Mentioned Above:
Timor-Leste Organic Eratoi Ermera
We're proud to get this fully washed, organic coffee back again this year. Its sweetness has hints of caramel, vanilla, and honey with a balanced citric acidity. This is deliciously clean coffee with subtle floral notes and intense sweetness on the palate.
Papua New Guinea Organic Siane Chimbu
This washed PNG has a different character than other Indonesians. It is creamy with light citrus notes and a full body.
Organic Bali Kintamani RFA
This natural-processed coffee is bold, complex and fruity. Heavy body with ripe berry and melon.
Formerly known as Celebes, this wet-hulled, organic coffee is earthy and smooth with herbal notes.
Flores Bajawa Ngura Organic RFA
Very clean for a wet-hulled Indonesian coffee. Still heavy body with stone fruit sweetness. Tasty as a single origin espresso too.
A classic, dark-roasted Indonesian brew.