Growing Altitude: 750 - 1,550 meters above sea level
Arabica Variety: Typica
Harvest Period: May/June-August/September
Milling Process: Washed, sun dried
Flavor: Nutty, malty, chocolate, bright, sweet
The Indonesian island of Java is not only a prolific agricultural exporter, it's also a beautiful destination for tourists with lush scenic views and a warm and friendly culture.
CHARACTERISTICS OF JAVA ARABICA COFFEE
A good Java coffee exhibits
A relatively heavy body, though lighter than some other Indonesian coffees and also less acidic.
somewhat rustic in the overall flavor profile
A lingering finish and herbaceous subtleties in the aftertaste.
A fine Java coffee has a low-toned richness that is typical of Indonesian and New Guinea coffees, but with a full body that is clean and thick, and a medium acidity (brighter than New Guinea coffee) along with earthy qualities, but less earthy than some other Indonesian coffees such as Borneo, Sulawesi and Sumatra.
While the finish of Java may be a bit quicker than some other Indonesian coffees, it often contains a slightly spicy or smoky twist. Java coffee leaves a sweet impression overall, very smooth and supple.
EARLY JAVA COFFEE PLANTATION STOCKS
During the 1880s when the island of Java was leading the world in coffee production, Java's coffee crops were devastated by a rust plague. This plague occurred first in Sukabumi and then throughout Central Java and areas of East Java. Many plantation stocks were lost. Java's coffee plants were mostly of the varietal Arabica (Coffea arabica var. Arabica) at the time of the rust plague.
After the plague the Dutch first planted Liberica (Coffea liberica) and then Robusta (Coffea canephora var. robusta), a species highly favored for its ability to resist disease, though considered inferior to the finer Arabica coffee beans when it comes to producing a fine cup of brewed coffee with a wide range of flavors and aromas. While most java coffees imported into the United States and Canada are Arabica, the higher price reflects the agricultural situation, where approximately 90% of the coffee crop is Robusta.
JAVA'S OLD COLONIAL PLANTATIONS
The old colonial era plantations on Java now grow just a small percentage of the island's coffee, though these revived old estates grow most of the island's premium gourmet Arabica varietal coffee.
Overall, only about ten percent of Indonesia's coffee production is Arabica, but this ten percent includes some of the world's finest gourmet coffees.
MONSOONING JAVA COFFEE BEANS
Some of the coffee beans from Java's old estates are aged, or monsooned, a process that exposes the unroasted green coffee beans (milled but not yet roasted) to moist, warm air throughout the rainy season. These monsooned coffee beans are labeled as Old Java Coffee, Old Government Coffee., or Old Brown Java Coffee. The monsooning of the Java coffee beans may continue for as long as three years, resulting in a strengthening of the coffee's body and taste, increasing the sweetness and weakening the acidity.
The coffee beans also undergo a distinct color change from their original green tint to a light brown color and often exhibit intense woody roast tastes along with a heavy body and almost no acidity.
TRADITION OF MOCHA JAVA COFFEE
Java Arabica coffee is also commonly used in the traditional blend called Mocha-Java along with Yemen Mocha coffee (see Mocha Java Coffee). The history of coffee grown on Java began in 1690 when the Dutch were finally able to smuggle coffee plants out of the Arab port of Mocha and quickly began growing it in Java, which was an East Indian colony, and also in Ceylon. To read about these events and how they fueled the European coffee trade see the World's Best History of Coffee.