Coffee was planted in Flores 150 years ago. There are conflicting reports as to where the original strains came from. Some say coffee in Flores came from Sulawesi and others claim it was introduced from Timor. Both of these theories are plausible as Flores is indeed located between the other two islands. Over the course of 150 years other cultivars were introduced to the Island and grew alongside the original plant strains. Hybridization occurred resulting in a local variety known as “Juria.”
As coffee in Flores is not traditionally pruned, stumped, or removed as it ages, it is not uncommon to find groves of coffee trees reaching 25-30 feet tall. These “Coffee Forests” are made up of large stands of “Juria” trees that are 20 -30 and in some cases 40 -50 years old. Amazingly, the trees produce small quantities that are still harvested by producers. The difficult feat of harvesting coffee that grows 30 feet of the ground is accomplished by threading bamboo poles into the coffee tree canopy and balancing while the cherries are picked. These giant coffee trees shade the more easily accessible organic production.
In 1986 the Indonesia Coffee and Cacao Research Institutes began a coffee development program. Aside from the coffee seeds that were planted during this time, little is known about the coffee varieties in Flores. The main coffee cultivars grown in Mangarrai are Unggul, Caturra, Catuai, and Linie S 795. Tucked away between these more commonly known varieties are naturally occurring hybrid’s whose history can only be hypothesized.
Juria is one such “mystery” hybrid as described above and yet another is a strain producing yellow coffee cherries. It is believed that these trees are local hybrids of either Catuai or Caturra Linage. However the plants are referred to locally as “Colombia Variety.” The “Variedad Colombiana” is known to be a cross between Caturra and Timor strains. In either case it is indeed rare to see yellow bearing coffee trees in Indonesia. Research is currently being conducted to ascertain the genetic history of these Yellow Cherried coffee trees. The exact history of how these plants came to Flores may never be known although first hand research uncovered a number of possibilities. Locals say the variety was brought by the Japanese from Toraja in Sulawesi.
Fresh tobacco - Cocoa - Floral
The majority of coffee in Flores is processed using the semi-washed technique (aka wet hulled or pulped natural.) In this process coffee is harvested and pulped mechanically or by hand within 24 hours after picking. In this process, the ripe cherries pass through a pulper separating the beans and mucilage from the fruit -or pulp- of the cherry.
The coffee is then spread on a patio and left to dry until it reaches a moisture of 23-27 % . At this moisture level the bean itself is hard enough to withstand hulling or separation of the bean from the parchment. This process is similar to but different from dry hulling which takes place when the bean reaches a relative moisture level of 11-14%.
Flores is located in the Eastern Sunday Island archipelago in the province of East Nusa Tengarra, Indonesia. The Sea of Flores separates the island from Sulawesi to the north, East Timor to the south and Sumbawa as well as Komodo Island to the West. Aside from the Island of Komodo, the West Coast of Flores is one of the few places where giant Komodo Dragons can still be found in the wild.
There are seven regencies in Flores: West Mangarrai, Central Mangarrai, Ngada, Nagekeo, Ende, Sikka, and Flores Timur. 90% of the coffee grown in Flores comes from the areas of Mangarrai and Ngada. Total Arabica production from Flores is estimated at 2,500 -3,000 metric tons.
Historically and to this day, much of this coffee is lost to local traders who sell and blend the beans in the commercial port of Surabaya on the Island of Java. We at Atlantic Specialty Coffee have been working with local Indonesia organizations to develop a reliable, unadulterated, and traceable supply chain. The main goal is to work with farmers on quality while adding value to their production.