Getting the most out of Indonesian specialty coffees

Coffee processed on the Indonesian island of Flores has gained popularity in the international specialty coffee scene, as a result of efforts to improve revenue for small coffee farmers in regional areas.

The global market for specialty coffee continues to grow, but that demand is increasingly paired with a call for traceability, enhanced quality demands, and evidence of environmental and social standards throughout the production chain.

While this demand is an opportunity for smallholder farmers in regional Indonesia, they haven’t always been able to meet the requirements. A collection of Indonesian and Australian organisations wanted to fix this. In 2008 they began a project to facilitate relationships between international coffee buyers and Indonesian farmers—but they recognised that coffee roasters connecting directly with growers doesn’t always guarantee a benefit to the farmers. Their work has identified bottlenecks in developing successful relationships, assessed their impact on farmer livelihoods, and helped Indonesian agencies support relationships that benefit farming communities.

To develop ‘taste profiles’ and promote local regions on the specialty market, part of the work involved coffee sampling and assessment by more than 50 Indonesian, Australian and American coffee experts. They found that a processing method used on the island of Flores (‘Pulped-Natural’ or ‘honey’ coffee) wasn’t only preferred by farmers, but also buyers resulting in a boost in commercial production of this unique speciality coffee. Their findings are being shared with industry representatives across Indonesia. And their activities are expanding from the districts in South Sulawesi and Flores, and being applied in North Sumatra and West Java.

The team includes researchers from the Indonesian Coffee and Cocoa Research Institute, The University of Sydney, the District Estate Crops Agency of Indonesia, and is funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research.

Credit for banner image: Derby Sumule.