The Bajawa area is unique culturally and agriculturally even within Indonesia. Driving up into this mountainous region, you’ll find palms replaced by candlenut trees (a nut which is used in curries and other fatty foods), and as you get progressively higher, clove trees. Once you reach this last area, it’s not uncommon to smell sweet coffee blossom intermingling with the spicy aromatics of clove. Beiwali lies North of the iconic Mount Inere, an active fumarole in the Ngada district.
Before the arrival of the Dutch, Flores was colonized by Portuguese who assimilated almost completely into the native population. People in this area are at least bilingual if not trilingual, speaking Bahasa Indonesia, Portuguese, and many native dialects such as Ngadha, Lio, and Ende.
Coffee is a relatively new cultivated crop in Flores, and production is still quite small in comparison to areas like Sumatra and Java. The newly completed Trans-Nusa Highway which passes directly through the Bajawa area is streamlining trade throughout the islands, and coffee industry is likely to see further development. This coffee is just the beginning of great things to come from Flores.
This lot is a blend of common cultivars in Indonesia, including the Typica heirloom variety, the disease resistant Catimor hybrid, and the S-type (“S” stands for “selection”) variety originally developed in India. Often referred to in Indonesia as “Linie S,” this designation most frequently denotes S-795, aka Jember, a Typica variant that contains some genetic markers from Arabica’s oddball cousin, Coffea Liberica.
While coffees from Flores are most frequently wet-hulled, as is the custom throughout the Indonesian islands, this particular batch was fully washed after an extended fermentation period and then dried on raised beds. The result is a coffee that straddles the line between Pacific Island and Latin American coffees both in flavor and physique. High density, moderate moisture numbers (particularly for Flores), and large screen size among the unique characteristics of this twist on a classic.
A fully washed Indonesian coffee with some stellar green coffee metrics, this coffee was a treat to roast. I decided to roast this coffee with two different styles in mind. The first roast, PR-435, is a more traditional profile that I roast often on the probatino. The second roast, PR-436, I decided to drop the heat just after first crack and give the coffee a rest from the applied heat. While PR-435, had a brighter acidity: apple juice and some cherry it couldn’t compete with the silky mouthfeel of PR-436 with notes of butterscotch, raisin, and honey.
As clean and unique in a small batch Bonavita as it was on the cupping table, this washed Flores delights us with its clarity and drinkability. It won’t win a beauty contest next to a Geisha, but it will almost certainly change the mind of a person who is turned off by the earthiness of a more traditional Indonesian island coffee. We had a slight preference for Jen’s second roast as a drip coffee; it seemed to exude a little more sugar development and we noticed some nuanced floral notes as it cooled.