Indonesia has been exporting coffee since 1711, when the Dutch East India Company sent its first shipment from Java to Europe. The crop was profitable for many exporters and importers: less so for the country’s producers. In 1960, the novel ‘Max Havelaar: Or the Coffee Auctions of the Dutch Trading Company’ was published, outlining the abuses endorsed by the Colonial Dutch system. The novel transformed the labour system and even provided inspiration for the first Fair Trade label – Max Havelaar.
Indonesia’s production was originally nearly 100% Arabica until, in the 1870s, coffee leaf rust decimated production. Farmers slowly replaced Arabica with Robusta, and today, although Indonesia is a significant coffee producing country – the fourth biggest in the world behind Brazil, Colombia and Vietnam – only around 25% of production is Arabica.
Indeed, Indonesia has a great deal to offer the specialty market, with distinct and unique profiles depending on region and processing. Most notably, Mercanta offers specialty coffees from Sumatra & Java; however, the country’s other islands of Sulawesi, Flores and Bali also produce coffee.
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