The first coffee seedlings were sent by the Dutch governor of Malabar to the governor of Batavia (now Jakarta) in 1696 but failed to grow due to floods. The second shipment in 1699 was successfully cultivated and within 2 years, the Dutch began exporting from Java.
Over the next century, the Dutch increased the production of coffee in Indonesia rapidly via the Cultuurstelsel (Cultivation System). Under this system, local farmers are expected to grow and pay taxes in the form of export crops such as coffee, sugar and indigo.
This system proved to be very profitable for the Dutch at the expense of the farmers. Aside from having to grow coffee without profit, this system has also diverted labor from rice production and caused hardship for the local farmers.
Indonesians declared Independence in 1945 and began their diplomatic and armed resistance until 1949 when the Dutch finally acknowledged their independence. Shortly after, Dutch-owned plantations were nationalized in the 1950s.
Coffee Production in Indonesia
The Indonesian coffee sector is large, internally diverse and scattered.
Today, more than 90% of Indonesia’s coffee is grown by smallholders living in often remote villages located right across the archipelago.
Each region’s coffee varies in terms of production, processing, quality and environmental consideration.
Similarly, it is difficult to generalize the characteristics of Indonesian coffees due to the wide variability between the growing regions. The characteristics of each region will be further explored separately.
“Cultural sociology of the Middle East, Asia, & Africa: An encyclopedia”, A. Stanton, E. Ramsamy, P. Seybolt, & C. Elliott, Thousand Oaks, 2012
“A Review of Coffee Literature in Indonesia”, P. J. S. Cramer, Inter-American Institute of Agricultural Sciences, 1957.