Coffee is one of the biggest commodities in Indonesia even since the colonisation of Dutch-Indies in the 19th century. According to the Ministry of Trades Republic of Indonesia, Indonesia is number 4 biggest coffee producer country in the world, just after Brazil, Vietnam and Columbia, producing approximately 700 thousand tons annually.
With this scale of production, Indonesia can supply coffee beans to other countries such as the United States, Germany, Malaysia, and even to Italy ever since the rise of third wave coffee culture in Indonesia. Consumers started to demand better quality coffee in Indonesia, even in Papua island, whether it is from Papua province or West Papua.
The lifestyle of consumers started to change since enjoying coffee is now more than just a daily need, but shifting towards fulfilling a new kind of lifestyle and cultural experience. This is what a third wave coffee culture is about. What is this third wave coffee? What is the impact of this new culture to the coffee plantation and production in West Papua?
Before we discuss this even further, let’s step back and talk about what the third wave of coffee is.
The Changes in Coffee as Beverage
The culture of drinking coffee can be found in every place in Indonesia, but the drink is always associated with the elderlies. But that was not the case recently. Currently the culture of drinking coffee has shifted entirely to the youth because of the coffee culture wave around the world.
The first wave of coffee culture started back in the 18th century. Coffee is a commodity to mass produce with low price and easy to serve. In this wave or era, the producer of coffee started to prioritize instant coffees for their low price and easy access to the masses.
The second wave of coffee started in the 1960s as an answer to dissatisfaction with cheap and low quality coffee commonly found during the first wave. Coffee shops became more popular and in turn started a new trend where people were drinking coffee in these cafes rather than at home. These people not only went to cafes to drink coffee but also to socialize with each other. In this era, enjoying coffee is a lifestyle.
The third wave coffee culture in the 2000s marked as the people started to ask more information about the coffee that they consume. These new consumers were demanding transparency about the coffee, from bean to cup. During this era, a cup of coffee became a new cultural experience full of meanings and significance.
The terms of single origin started to pop around, used to inform the buyer about where the coffee is grown. It is hoped that by doing so, a traceability is achieved, because each variety of coffee has different taste notes.
Indonesia has several well known regions of coffee producers, such as Gayo and Mandailing from Sumatra, Toraja from Sulawesi, Preanger from Java Island, Kintamani in Bali, Flores and also Papua.
The Impact of Third Wave Coffee for Papuan coffee
History records that coffee beans in Papua were brought by the Dutch government and missionaries during the 1890s to cultivate the plants in Papua.
After World War II, The Netherlands developed and cultivated coffee, and by 1956 there was a significant increase in coffee production in Papua. The missionaries in Papua established the P5 foundation, with one of their programs to educate the farmers through coffee.
But unfortunately, soon after West Papua joined Indonesia, the coffee plantations were in decline since the farmers started to neglect their coffee farm and shifted to plant cassava as it was easier to sell to the market.
During the third wave of coffee in the 2010s, there were more interests toward Papuan coffee. The unique aroma and tastes in Papuan coffee traditionally and organically planted by farmers in Papua has a distinctive character not found in other coffee from other places in Indonesia. Because of the high demand for this coffee, the production of coffee beans in Papua increased over the years, even more so after global supply chains such as Starbucks started to buy green coffee beans from Papua for their products.
Because of this high demand, a new generation of coffee farmers in Papua starts to grow. Coffee is included in the green economy program by the Indonesian government to stimulate economic growth through Papuan coffee. A new educational program for the farmers is established to increase the quality output about coffee cultivation, even more so in post production.
What was long forgotten, now has a chance to dominate the world trades through the coffee industry in West Papua.