Coffee Varieties: Java

Coffee varieties are the subspecies of coffee that occur by natural selection and by selective breeding. Disease resistance, yield and flavor vary from variety to variety. Variety or breed selection is critical to the planter as he or she must pick the optimal variety for altitude, sun or shade, soil conditions and climate. Regarding coffee varieties here are a couple of terms:

Variety: A variety is a smaller group than a subspecies and a larger group than a form. A variety has most of the characteristics of the species but differs in specific ways.

Cultivar: This is a cultivated variety and is developed using agricultural breeding techniques. The coffee in your cup is most likely a cultivar. Two common cultivars are Bourbon and Typica.

An old coffee variety and one that is used as slang for coffee is java. Java coffee comes from the island of Java in Indonesia. As we noted in our article, Why Is Coffee Called Java,

[I]t was the Dutch traders who first colonized Australia, the East Indies and even New York (New Amsterdam). The Dutch are responsible for finding the coffee plants in East Africa and planting them on their island colonies including the Indonesian island of Java in the 1500’s.

Until a coffee leaf rust plague wiped out most of the plants on Java in the 1880s it was a global supplier of coffee, thus the name Java.

Today the majority of coffee grown on Java is Robusta as it is resistant to coffee leaf rust. However, there are still Arabica coffee plantations on Java that produce the Java variety.

Java Coffee

Kopi Jawa, an Indonesian expression, refers to Java coffee and to the style of Java coffee, strong black and sweet. Java Arabica coffee is grown primarily on the Ijen Plateau in the East of Java. The plateau is around 4,200 feet high (1,400 meters) and ideal for coffee production. Several estates date back to the Dutch era: Blawan, Jampit, Pancoer, Kayumas and Tugosari.

Aged and Monsooned Coffee

A unique treatment to some Java coffee is that it is aged for as long as three years. Although the coffee beans are initially dried they are exposed to warm, moist air during the rainy season. As they age the beans turn from green to light brown and gain strength but lose acidity. Aged Java coffees are referred to as Old Java, Old Brown or Old Government.

Mocha Java Blend

A unique coffee blend dates back two or three centuries, Mocha-Java. Back in the era of Dutch traders it would found that mixing Java Arabica coffee with Mocha Coffee from Yemen resulted in a pleasingly complex brew. This is still available today and should not be confused with the mocha that you can purchase in a coffee house.

Cup of Java versus a Cup of Joe

So, if you like a cup of Java and would like the real thing from the island of Java that is entirely possible. Just specify that you want the Java coffee variety from Indonesia and not any old cup of Joe!




Leave a Reply