Indonesia is currently one of the biggest producers and exporters of coffee in the world. Coffee drinking history in the country is dated back to the 18th century, when coffee beans have been brought to the archipelago from across the Ocean. Until nowadays Indonesia has developed some unique facts relating to its coffee history, presentations and drinking habits. It is also not a mystery, that Indonesian person cannot imagine a start into the day without at least one glass of a black, sugary coffee, often in its simplified - instant version. Taking this into consideration, a travel to Indonesia is a discovery of a rich and aromatic coffee culture, reflecting ethnic differences and everyday customs varying from island to island.
Coffee history in Indonesia starts in Java island around the first decade of the 18th century. It was brought to the island by the Dutch merchants, who wanted to begin growing the plant in a tropical climate. Almost from the first harvests, plant adaptation became a success and gave the beginning to already legendary nowadays Java coffee industry, rich in quality and beans variety.
Among Javanese tribes coffee is also a part of a mysterious tradition, the worship of the White Buffalo, a magical empowered animal to whom coffee is offered as a part of the sacred ritual. Moreover, coffee is used in beauty and wellness rituals, such as massages, scrubs and incorporated as an important product in the local pharmaceutical industry.
Coffee drinking tradition is present in the lives of local communities, where people gather in warung kopi - street cafes, to enjoy a glass of coffee and a cigarette. And even though Indonesian market has opened to international coffee shop chains, the genuine coffee culture is observable on the street level through warung and kaki lima (portable stalls).
The most popular coffee brewed in the country it’s called kopi tubruk. It being prepared with a ground coffee powder, mixed in a glass with boiling water and sugar. In some areas of Sumatra coffee drink is prepared with the use of coffee leaves, mixed with hot water, what results with a subtle coffee flavour and it’s called kopi kahwa. Another tradition is present in Aceh regions, where people tend to drink kopi tarik, known also as ‘pulled coffee’. Kopi tarik is Arabica coffee mixed with sugar. The process of its preparation involves pouring the liquid repeatedly from one container to another using cotton strainer to give it a special thickness and rich taste. Besides the flavour, coffee is believed to pull more fragrant when brewed that way.
Diversity of coffee drinking habits is expressed also in different drink compositions and mixing with additional ingredients. One of the most popular mixes, commonly known as kopi jahe involves mixing coffee with fresh ginger and palm sugar and is promoted as herbal medication. Local specialty of Yogyakarta - kopi joss (‘joss coffee’) is a special unrestrained coffee, which in the process of brewing is mixed with a piece of burning charcoal to give a baking taste to the coffee. The name itself comes from ‘joss’ sound of the emerging charcoal. The Middle Eastern immigration to Indonesia brought along yet another tradition - a tradition of spiced coffee - kopi bumbu. It’s a brewed coffee mixed with cinnamon, cardamom, clove and sugar, what gives a rich oriental flavour.
The Indonesian coffee story can go on, however the best way to truly enjoy it, is to give it a try and get a cup of delicious Javanese Arabica just for yourself! Not to mention that hanging out in a local coffee shop is the new urban lifestyle and a great chance to mingle with local people and make new friends, while interning in Indonesia!