The Java Mountain Women’s Cooperative is situated South of Bandung, in West Java, Indonesia. Generally, much of the washed Arabica from Indonesia’s most populous island is produced in government plantations in East Java. Plantations like Blawan and Pancur are vestigial remnants of the VOC (Dutch East India Company) and their colonial coffee production practices. West Java was a major producer in the past, being one of the first areas used by the Dutch to cultivate coffee in the late 17th century. This area was devastated by the coffee leaf rust epidemic of 1876, and has only recovered production in recent years.
This is our first year bringing in Java Mountain Women’s Cooperative coffee; the Cooperative itself was formed recently in 2016 with an association of 50 women. The areas surrounding Pangalengan and Ciwidey tended by small farmers are beginning to produce excellent coffee, and we’re happy to be the first to bring this particular selection to the US market, especially since they plan to use part of the earnings from this crop to achieve Organic certifications and fund social programs. Another portion of earnings will be used to develop a sustainable nursery program to provide coffee, rubber tree, banana, and other seedlings for members.
This is the kind of Indonesian Island coffee by which I tend to get pretty thrilled. Clean and nicely processed, the coffee made the long ocean journey with no quality issues in large part due to solid washing and drying techniques that preserved the nice acidity and character through a stable water activity. The coffee is also fairly dense, and has a slightly wide spread of screen size.
This washed coffee has a slightly high moisture content and density reading, but is on the smaller screen size on average for this region. I started the roast with more energy at charge to wick away the moisture through the drying stage. The smaller screen size and the amount of heat applied earlier put me on a track to race through first crack. Unfortunately, I overreacted by turning the heat down too much and stalled the roast. This created more of a hurdle than I planned and the post crack development time was longer than I had hoped. First crack occurred at the usual time and second crack was very quiet, so be alert.
This week we decided to roast this coffee to a light medium roast and into second crack so we could compare how the flavor transforms with additional sugar browning. In our first roast, the light medium roast, PR-553 we tasted a clean citrus, roasted almonds, and stonefruit. Overall a very sweet and clean coffee with a smooth texture. Our second roast, PR-554, was taken all the way into second crack. Fruit flavors transformed into a black cherry pipe tobacco, vanilla, and chocolate mousse. A very smooth textured coffee held throughout both profiles as well as a clean and sweet overall profile.
This flexible and dynamic Javanese coffee was a pleasure to brew and drink. We brewed PR-553 using both a Kalita Wave and a Clever, and achieved delicious brews from both. As a group, we tended to favor the Kalita, but the Clever was not without its merits.
Where the Kalita produced chocolate and grape notes, the Clever emphasized bright green malic acids reminiscent of pears and green apple. Decidedly more hefty, the Kalita gave a few of us the richness we were looking for in this cup of Java. If you’re working with a lighter roast of this coffee, however, you won’t be disappointed. There’s clean and bright acids, and you can get a very lively cup with higher brew ratios.
As typical as a dark roast would be for a Javanese coffee, we strongly preferred the lighter roasts, so that is all I have listed below. This isn’t a typical Javanese coffee; we think you’ll enjoy the difference!