Indonesia Wakes Up And Smells Its Own Coffee — Then Drinks It : The Salt Indonesia is the world's fourth-largest coffee producer, exporting more than it consumes. But that's changing, as demand from a rising middle class fuels entrepreneurship and connoisseurship.
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Indonesia Wakes Up And Smells Its Own Coffee — Then Drinks It

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Indonesia Wakes Up And Smells Its Own Coffee — Then Drinks It

Indonesia Wakes Up And Smells Its Own Coffee — Then Drinks It

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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Making your morning cup of java about now? Then this one's for you. Indonesia's most populous island shares its name with that piping hot beverage. And as NPR's Anthony Kuhn reports from Jakarta, big changes have been brewing - get it - brewing - in the country's coffee industry.

ANTHONY KUHN, BYLINE: This is the Anomali Coffee Shop in South Jakarta. They're roasting a batch of coffee, and it smells like someone's baking cookies in here. That means the sugar in the coffee beans is starting to caramelize. Anomali's founder, Irvan Helmi, says you know this is happening...

IRVAN HELMI: If you hear the cracking sound like popcorn. It is the bean expanding because of the heat inside of the core.

KUHN: Anomali Coffee includes a trading company that wholesales to hotels and other businesses. They have a barista training academy. And upstairs from the roasting ovens is one of their seven cafes.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BRICK HOUSE")

THE COMMODORES: (Singing) That lady's stacked.

KUHN: They've got a table here with bags of coffee beans for sale from six Indonesian islands.

HELMI: In Toraja, you also have a medium body, chocolatey and caramel, herbs.

KUHN: Indonesia's more than 17,000 islands teem with more plant and animal species than researchers can catalogue. Little wonder then that, from Aceh in the west to Papua in the east, the archipelago has more coffees than Irvan's tasters can get to.

HELMI: From Aceh alone, we have more than 100 samples for one season. Can you imagine?

KUHN: Irvan explains that Indonesia still exports more coffee than it consumes. But in recent years, that's begun to change as demand from Indonesia's rising middle class has taken off and logistics have improved. And that's where Irvan saw his chance.

HELMI: The mission becomes clear - to promote Indonesian coffee as a curator.

KUHN: Irvan says most coffee companies blend different coffees together to make a consistent product, but each of Anomali's coffees comes from a single origin.

HELMI: We don't care about consistency. If it is of high quality, we want it.

KUHN: So each of their coffees is, well, an anomaly.

HELMI: That's the big difference between Anomali and the mass market, and we are really proud of it.

KUHN: I went for a coffee tasting, or a cupping session, at another cafe run by Mirza Luqman Effendy, a friend and colleague of Irvan's.

MIRZA LUQMAN EFFENDY: We have to slurp the coffee three times.

KUHN: Mirza snarfs up a spoonful of coffee and explains that younger Indonesians have different tastes in coffee from their parent's generation.

EFFENDY: The fact is my father is a coffee addict. He really love very intense coffee, like a robusta, roasted very dark. And then basically, he drink coffee with putting some sugar and ginger.

KUHN: Mirza says that recipe is way too old school for him.

EFFENDY: Like, my father - coffee is just, like, coffee. You cannot taste any attribute beside coffee taste.

KUHN: But Mirza tastes so much more in the coffee than just coffee.

EFFENDY: Sometimes you just taste the juiciness, the fruitiness, chocolate-like.

KUHN: Of course, it's young people like Irvan and Mirza sharing their passion for coffee that drives the coffee scene in many countries. But with its rich variety of beans and long history of cultivation, Indonesia is building a coffee culture and a pride in it that is truly homegrown. Anthony Kuhn, NPR News, Jakarta.

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