Crazy about Indonesian coffee

By | Category: Travel tips & opinions

The low-down on what to expect from Indonesia’s coffee scene

How to ask for a coffee in the local language? Boleh minta kopi satu

Signature coffee style? Kopi Tubruk – finely ground coffee beans or powder are mixed directly in a cup of boiling water, with sugar often added automatically

What to order with your coffee? Sweet, sticky multi-coloured kue lapis rice cakes such as klepon (green rice balls filled with liquid palm sugar and coated with grated coconut)

Don’t: Be surprised if your coffee is served in a cup with a lid – it’s to stop flies and insects falling in

Kopi joss Jogja (Coffee joss), Yogyakarta, Indonesia

The island of Java’s name has been transformed into a popular generic for any kind of coffee, but few people realise the importance of this sprawling equatorial archipelago in the story of what locals call kopi. Indonesia was one of the first places outside Ethiopia and Arabia to grow coffee, introduced by the Dutch colonial administration in the early 1800s. Today it is the world’s fourth-largest producer, with more than a million sq km of plantations and organic smallholdings, spread across not just Java but Sumatra, Papua, Flores and Sulawesi.

Each island’s beans are known to baristas across the globe for their particular personality; from Sulawesi’s nutty, warm spicy flavour to intense Sumatran coffee, with cocoa and tobacco notes, and the rare Old Java, an aged coffee made from beans stored for up to five years. For the most part, all these specialist gourmet varieties head straight for the export market.

Until recently, most locals have been happy sipping a tiny glass of their favourite Tubruk, a muddy, sweet brew, in one of the murky Warung Kopi that sit on every street corner. But third wave barista-led speciality coffee bars are finally opening up in all the major cities, promoting Indonesia’s distinctive home-grown varieties. We’d suggest avoiding the controversial Kopi Luwak, though. Hyped as the world’s most expensive and finest coffee, Luwak get its distinctive earthy, smooth taste from beans that have passed through the systems of sadly exploited palm civet cats, which love to eat the coffee berries. Fine when these animals live in the wild, but today many are kept in atrocious conditions or used for tourist sightseeing. Fortunately Indonesia boasts a host of other wonderful brews to choose from.

5 Jalan Sriwedari, Ubud, Bali;; +62 361 972 085

Bali’s cultural capital Ubud has become the island’s foodie and coffee capital, and Seniman Coffee Studio, behind Ubud Palace, is the real seed-tocup deal when it comes to craft coffee. The cafe has the feel of a bohemian clubhouse where animated baristas pull espressos for curious tourists, locals and expats, and coffee professionals and barmen hang out with restaurant chefs. Across the road is a cold-brew bar where brewing and cupping workshops are held, while the Diedrich roaster is overseen by Balinese I Kadek Edi, who brings the same creativity to his roasting as he did to his former woodcarving profession.

Seniman’s reputation has been forged by promoting plantations across the islands of the Indonesian archipelago, and particularly by encouraging the coffee growing right here in Bali. What makes the cafe so cool is that everyone is made to feel at home, from committed coffee connoisseurs who come to try a speciality Bali Karana

Kintamani, grown in the highlands, to streetfood lovers who adore the soto ayam chicken broth and creme brulee espresso, or the cocktail crowd ordering Espresso Martinis. Grab one of the reclaimed teak rocking chairs, check out the current art exhibition, explore the tempting store filled with upcycled glassware and coffee tasting trays. With free wi-fi and magazines to browse, don’t be surprised to spend half the day here. And do try the Ice Black, where a blend of Sumatra Gayo, Bali Pulp Natural and Fully Washed beans is brewed for 8 to 10 hours using cold water and ice.


Museum Puri Lukisan
On Ubud’s main street, the island’s oldest museum exhibits an unparalleled collection of traditional and modern Balinese paintings, set in lush gardens with a lotus pond.

Ubud Royal Palace
Still the official residence of the ruler of Ubud, the grounds and temple are open to the public, a magical venue for Balinese dance and gamelan performances.

Ubud Market
Before 9am this is a teeming food market packed with live chickens, exotic fruit spices and street food stalls. Then everything disappears, to be replaced by tourist souvenir stalls.

John Hardy Ubud Workshop
Book ahead for the free tour of this workshop, where skilled local artisans design and craft intricate jewellery in a lush compound of bamboo and adobe buildings.


Americano Espresso and hot water
Cafe au lait Equal parts brewed coffee and steamed milk
Cafe mocha Espresso blended with chocolate syrup and topped with steamed milk or microfoam
Cappuccino One part espresso, one part milk and one part foam
Cold brew Coffee brewed using water at room temperature or colder. Usually steeped for 10 to 24 hours
Cortado  From the Spanish verb‘to cut’, a cortado is equal parts espresso and steamed milk
Crema A thin and desirable layer of foam found on top of an espresso
Doppio Or ‘double’ in Italian. Two shots of espresso pulled through the same filter and served as one
Drip/filter coffee Mechanized brew method using gravity to pull hot water through a bed of coffee grounds and a paper filter
Espresso A small, concentrated, syrupy shot of coffee that is achieved when pressure is used to force water through finely ground coffee
Flat white One part espresso to two parts steamed milk/microfoam
Latte One part espresso and three or more parts steamed milk
Latte art A design made in a drink using steamed milk/microfoam
Long black Espresso and hot water, a term popularised in Australia
Lungo Or ‘long’ in Italian. An espresso which is pulled longer or uses more water than a typical shot
Macchiato Or ‘marked’ in Italian. Is an espresso topped or – marked – with a small amount of steamed milk
Nitro cold brew Cold brew coffee infused with nitrogen and served on tap for a thicker, creamier texture
Piccolo Similar in espresso-to-milk ratio as the cortado, the piccolo is a drink made popular in Australia
Pour over A manual brew method that uses gravity to pull hot water through coffee grounds and a paper filter
Ristretto Or ‘restricted’ in Italian. An espresso that is pulled short or uses less water than a typical shot
Turkish coffee Brewed in a copper cezve or ibrik, Turkish coffee is unfiltered and made by boiling finely ground coffee beans in water

Technical terms

Arabica Originally from Ethiopia, Coffea arabica is the world’s most desired species of coffee plant
Blend When different coffees from different origins are mixed together to achieve a specific flavour profile
Brew ratio The proportion of coffee grounds to water used when brewing
Coffee cherry The fruit surrounding the coffee bean or seed
Cupping A method of coffee tasting used to determine quality, flavour attributes, and potential defects
Cup score A system of evaluating arabica coffee by assessing aroma, flavour, aftertaste, acidity, body, balance, sweetness, cleanliness, uniformity and defect each on a scale of 1-10. Coffees receive a total cup score out of 100
Green coffee After picking, processing, drying and before roasting, coffee seeds are known as green coffee
Microfoam When milk is steamed to a texture consisting of tiny bubbles
Natural/dry process Picked cherries are set out to dry naturally on raised beds or patios. As the fruit dries it imparts fruity flavours into the bean
Pulped natural or honey process After cherries are picked the skins are removed and beans are dried on beds with their sticky outer layer intact
Robusta Robusta or Coffea canephora is a species of coffee that is less desirable in flavour than arabica, has more caffeine, and is easier to grow
Single origin Coffee sourced from one geographic growing region which usually reflects the flavour attributes produced by a particular terroir
Speciality coffee Any coffee that achieves a cup score of 80 and above
Third wave Describes the overall trend of cafes and purveyors that source, prepare and serve speciality coffee
Washed or wet processing Picked cherries are hulled and put into fermentation tanks to remove the sticky outer layer. The beans are then washed before being set out to dry


Reproduced with permission from Lonely Planet’s Global Coffee Tour  © 2018 Lonely Planet,

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