Q: What is the history of Indonesia’s Coffee Industry?
A:Coffee was first planted in Indonesia in 1696 using the Arabica coffee varietal. And the first island of the many islands of Indonesia’s Archipelago where coffee was planted was the island of Java. Since that time, the Arabica coffee varietal’s growth has flourished and was used to grow coffee plants on other islands like Sumatra, Bali and Sulawesi. Indonesia’s Arabica coffee growth thrived throughout the centuries.
“In the late eighteen hundreds, Dutch colonialists established large coffee plantations on the Ijen Plateau in eastern Java. However, disaster struck in the 1876, when the coffee rust disease swept through Indonesia, wiping out most of Typica cultivar.” This disease mainly attacked the leaves and is only rarely found on young stems and fruit, called Hemileia Vastatrix, an obligate parasite. Since then the only surviving Arabica coffee plants were those in the higher altitude areas (1000 meters above sea level) where this disease could not survive in such climate and temperature conditions. “Robusta coffee (C. canephor var. robusta) was introduced to East Java in 1900 as a substitute, especially at lower altitudes, where the rust was particularly devastating. In the 1920s smallholders throughout Indonesia began to grow coffee as a cash crop. The plantations on Java were nationalized at independence and revitalized with new varieties of Coffe arabica in the 1950s. These varieties were also adopted by smallholders through the government and various development programs.” – Wikipedia.org
Q: What is the history of Kopi Luwak?
A: ”The origin of Kopi Luwak is closely connected with the history of Coffee production in Indonesia. In early 18th century The Dutch established the cash-crop plantations in their colony in Dutch East Indies islands of Java and Sumatra, including Arabica coffee introduced from Yemen. During the era of Cultuurstelsel (1830—1870), the Dutch prohibited the native farmers and plantation workers to pick coffee fruits for their own use. Yet the native farmers desired to have a taste of the famed coffee beverage. Soon the natives learned that certain species of musang or luwak (Asian Palm Civet) consumed these coffee fruits, yet they left the coffee seeds undigested in their droppings. The natives collect these Luwak’s dropping coffee seeds; clean, roast and grind it to make coffee beverage. The fame of aromatic civet coffee spread from locals to Dutch plantation owners and soon become their favorites, yet because of its rarity and unusual process, the civet coffee was expensive even in colonial times.” – Wikipedia.org
Q: What is a Luwak?
A: Luwak is a marsupial, also known as Musang Pandan (Bahasa Indonesia), Asian Palm Civet (English), Botar Pudhi (Batak Dialect), and Paradoxorus Hermaproditus (Latin).
Q: How exactly does the Kopi Luwak or Civet Coffee get processed through the Luwak animal?
A: When the luwak eats the coffee berry, this animal actually peels away the skin of the fruit then eats the seed. But the seed itself (coffee bean) does not get digested in the stomach, so it comes out in whole through the animal droppings. After looking at a coffee berry closely, we found out that between the outer layer (coffee berry skin) of the fruit and the seed (coffee bean) there is a thin layer of a slightly gel-like substance that is rather sweet. This layer is actually what the luwak eats and digests while the skin is peeled off uneaten and the seed itself passes through its digestion system undigested. For this very reason, the luwak needs to eat a lot of coffee berries in order to fill up.
Q: So what makes ValBeMar “Java Coffee Estate” Kopi Luwak so exclusive and rare?
A: Because of the disease that wiped out most of Indonesia’s Arabica coffee, in 1875 the government brought in the Robusta coffee type to replace the damaged Arabica crops. It turns out that this Robusta coffee varietal is immune to the disease that wiped out most of the Arabica plants in Indonesia. Due to that very same reason, Robusta coffee became the primary and more common coffee varietal grown in areas that are below the high altitude areas (1000 meters above seal level) where the Arabica coffee still survives. The Robusta coffee also became the main source of coffee production in all of Java, Sumatera and even in most of the east regions of Indonesia.
Since the time of the Dutch colony’s departure from Indonesia, many of the small local farming plantations were able to thrive, whereas the private enterprise plantations only survived in Central Java, East Java and a small area of Sumatera. And the only national plantations (PTPN) left were those in East and Central Java.
ValBeMar “Java Coffee Estate” Kopi Luwak is produced using Arabica varietals grown in the high altitude areas of Ijen Mountain caldera floor, specifically on the government-owned grounds of PTPN XII (PERSERO), or “Java Coffee Estate” Plantation. Ijen Mountain itself is a volcanic crater (approx. 2,386 meters above sea level) that is filled by a spectacular turquoise blue lake, its surface streaked in wind-blown patterns of yellow sulphur. Kawah Ijen or Ijen Crater is the world’s largest highly acidic lake and is the site of a labor-intensive sulfur mining operation in which sulfur-laden baskets are hand-carried from the crater floor. Coffee plantations cover much of the Ijen caldera floor, and there also lies the plantation where ValBeMar “Java Coffee Estate” Kopi Luwak is produced, and it is also open to tourists.