Regional coffee profile: Asia

Silky, rich, earthy, spicy, savory, and wild are the words most commonly used to describe Southeast Asia’s extraordinary arabica coffees. Spanning multiple bodies of water and countless, soaring volcanic mountain ranges, Asia’s dramatic climate and unadulterated old growth forests provide wonderful growing conditions for coffee. In many Asian coffee growing countries, such as Indonesia, the coffee trade is dominated by small, family farms that employ traditional growing and harvesting practices — meaning that the coffee, while not certified organic, is grown naturally. In this blog, we explore the prominent qualities of Asian coffee, broken down by country, highlighting key distinguishing characteristics.

Please note that this blog only covers Asian countries predominantly growing shade-grown, high-grown, arabicas and only references arabica coffee.

REGIONAL CHARACTERISTICS

  • Acidity: Low
  • Body: Full
  • Mouthfeel: Moderate to heavy
  • Roast: Dark full-city to dark
  • Common identifying words: Rich, creamy, spicy, earthy, exotic
  • Prominent flavor tones: Dark chocolate, spices

AsiaMap.png

COUNTRY PROFILES

India

  • Growing regions: Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu
  • Harvest: October – February
  • Varietals: Kents, Cauvery, S.795, Sln.9

  • Acidity: Low
  • Body: Full
  • Mouthfeel: Moderate
  • Dominant flavor notes: Mild nut, vanilla, spice
  • Takeaway: Creamy, pungent, and sweetly spiced

Indian arabicas have a rich, dense mouthfeel, low acidity, and array of sweet and savory spices that create a unique, earthy cup.

nature-3370946__480.jpg
India’s Kerala mountain range

Indonesia*

  • Growing regions: Java, Sulawesi, and Sumatra – see below for greater detail
  • Harvest: June – January
  • Varietals: See below

  • Acidity: Low / Moderate-low
  • Body: Full
  • Mouthfeel: Heavy
  • Dominant flavor notes: Chocolate, spice
  • Takeaway: Wild and earthy with deep chocolate and spice notes

Indonesian coffees are the wild children of coffee — untamed and earthy with rich syrup-like mouthfeels, these beans, grown in volcanic ash amongst chillis and spices are unique among coffees for their near-savory upper notes.

Java

  • Growing regions: Djampit, Blawan, Kayuman, Pancur
  • Harvest: June – December
  • Varietals: Catimor, Cultivars, Java Typica, Kartika

  • Acidity: Low / Medium-low
  • Body: Heavy
  • Mouthfeel: Heavy
  • Dominant flavor notes: Chocolate, chili
  • Takeaway: Rich, syrupy, and clean with a slight kick

Java coffee has a wonderfully rich, heavy body with dark chocolate undertones and spicy chili overtones. Javas have a molasses-like texture and are slightly more acidic than other Indonesians.

Mount Bromo.jpg
Mount Bromo in East Java

 

Sulawesi

  • Growing regions: Enrekang, Gowa, Kalosi, Tana, Toraja, Mamasa, Sinjai
  • Harvest: September – January
  • Varietals: Bourbon, Jember, Pacas, Pacamara, Typica, S795

  • Acidity: Low / Medium-low
  • Body: Full
  • Mouthfeel: Creamy
  • Dominant flavor notes: Deep chocolate, berry, savory spice, nut
  • Takeaway: Bold, earthy, and smooth with a bright finish

Sulawesi coffee is smooth and earthy with deep, gentle spice and sweet nut tones that close with a bright finish.

Sumatra

  • Growing regions: Aceh, Gayo, Lintong
  • Harvest: August – December
  • Varietals: Catimor, Caturra, Linie-STypica

  • Acidity: Low
  • Body: Full
  • Mouthfeel: Heavy
  • Dominant flavor notes: Chocolate, deep fruit, pepper
  • Takeaway: Complex with low acidity and rich, deep cocoa notes

Sumatran coffees are rich with a thick creamy texture, low acidity, and deep almost bitter chocolate base. The upper notes vary greatly depending on the bean’s origin, ranging from a deep, ripened fruit to a spicy chili.

L3kjBxOXRmWU7tBK0sif4g_thumb_133e.jpg
Old growth forests in Sumatra’s Gayo Regency.

Note: Aceh and Lintong are collectively referred to as Mandheling, after traditional Sumatran coffee growers, the Mandheling tribe.

Papua New Guinea

  • Growing regions: Chimbu Province, Eastern Highlands, Western Highlands
  • Harvest: April – September
  • Varietals: Arusha, Baliem Valley,  Blue Mountain, Bourbon, Kamu Valley, Mundo Novo, Typica

  • Acidity: Medium
  • Body: Full
  • Mouthfeel: Creamy
  • Dominant flavor notes: Dark chocolate, maple, spice, ripened berry
  • Takeaway: Smooth and thick with low acidity and bright close

Papua New Guinea coffees are savory and wonderfully rich with delicate earth and spice tones.

PapuaNG.JPG

*Yemeni coffees are represented on our African regional profile blog due to their taste profile and striking African-like coffee characteristics.

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