How are the growing number of coffee guerrillas in West Java fighting their battle?
The war between coffee shop giants in Indonesia’s big cities has been going on since the beginning of the millennium. But how are the growing number of coffee guerrillas fighting their battle?
Stretching 5,150 kilometers from west to east, the archipelago is home to diverse conditions for growing coffee. From light and bright to full-bodied coffee, the result of being grown in this part of the world has blessed Indonesians with an abundance of varieties and flavors.
The nearest coffee plantations to Jakarta lie in the scenic mountains of West Java, which also happen to be first plantations developed when coffee was brought by the Dutch East Indies Company (VOC) to Indonesia in 1696. The coffee industry later expanded to the eastern parts of Java and the export trade to Europe started in 1711. That is when the term “a cup of Java” was first coined.
The coffee export trade lasted until Indonesia was struck by the so-called coffee rust disease in 1876. Coffee plantations then shifted to tea, quinine and vegetables. There were too few surviving coffee plants in West Java to produce a decent amount for the industry, hence being almost forgotten until more than a century later.
West Java coffee
Coffee farmer Yoseph Kusuniyanto, 50, grows Arabica Cattura at his plantation and nursery in Lembang, North Bandung. He left his office job in 1997 and decided to try farming, joining other coffee farmers who only began planting coffee again about 15 years ago after a long hiatus.