In honor of SpillingTheBeans last Coffee Safari of 2015 this month to Indonesia, we are proud to re-publish this Special Report from two years ago. During this visit SpillingTheBeans’ author and owner, independent coffee analyst and global coffee reporter Maja Wallengren also known as “The Indiana Jones of Coffee”, will make crop visits across North Sumatra’s coffee regions from Takengon in Aceh to Mandheling and Sidikalang, then on to Bali for a special report on the famous origins of Kopi Luwak. Indonesia has been one of the world’s coffee producing countries hardest hit by climate change in recent years, yet local coffee consumption is BOOMING with some industry estimates saying local demand is moving toward a stunning 6 million bags. From the new harvest to the local consumption and the ethics and tradition behind Luwak-civit coffee, we will undertake an in-depth field investigation while here in Indonesia during a full 12 days of intense coffee travels. Stay tuned for more updates from Indonesia soon HERE on the world’s fastest growing blog in coffee and, as always, Happy Coffee Drinking!
Indonesia has for many years been the joker in international coffee statistics and for both the last 2012-13 harvest as well as the new 2013-14 this is no exemption. In years when coffee production was expected to come in at some-what disappointing levels, coffee exports would suddenly surge well above expectations. And in years when everything pointed to healthy yields, reports of oversold crops and exporters scrambling to comply with contracts would suddenly dominate the market. Most analysts and market players have up until the second quarter of 2013 insisted that Indonesia’s 2012-13 harvest was producing a near record of between 10.5 to 11 million 60-kilogram bags, but as the harvest has been completed, evidence is growing of a much lower volume after multiple complications from weather. And the booming local market has furthermore seen domestic consumption increasingly cut into the amount of coffee available for exports.
BY MAJA WALLENGREN
One of the many fascinating facts about coffee production in the world that often goes untold is that Indonesia is among the oldest coffee growing nations. The world’s 3rd largest producer in the past five years, Indonesia started planting coffee over 300 years ago and for most of the last several decades the Indonesian production figure made it one of the world’s most stable coffee nations with output between 6.5 and 7.5 million 60-kilogram bags. But the damaging effects of erratic climate is quickly changing that, as is the rapidly growing local consumption.
“We have never before seen the weather changing this much from one year to the next, from one region to the other and the effect of climate change here is really felt very much in all the coffee growing areas in Indonesia,” said Irfan Anwar, President Director of Medan-based PT Coffindo coffee exporters, which started business in 1999 and handles some 120,000 bags a year. In 2010 the company was named “Indonesia Best Exporter” by AEKI and in March this year Anwar was named the new chairman for AEKI for a 3-year term.
While AEKI has yet to release any forecast for the new harvest the U.S. Department of Agriculture, USDA, recently said it expects the ongoing negative impact of weather to once again lead to reduced harvest output in the 2013-14 crop.
The USDA also said the 2012-13 harvest failed to surpass the 10M-bags figure initially forecast and ended with 9.7 million bags due to a number of weather problems from drought to excess rains that negatively affected the final results of the harvest. Weather and the impact of climate change continues to affect production in the new 2013-14 harvest, which is seen reduced by over half million bags and reach 9.165 million bags, the USDA said its first forecast for the new cycle released in its biannual report on May 15th.
“Drought occurred in 85 percent of major Indonesian coffee production areas during the critical flowering period” from June to September 2012 which led to poor conditions for flowering and resulted in many flowers not maturing into coffee cherries. “By contrast during the onset of the most recent cherry development stage (December 2012-January 2013) most Indonesian production areas received above average levels of rainfall. Heavy rains pounded young coffee cherries and a significant portion of the cherries were lost as a result,” said the USDA.
When coffee cherries receives too much rain in the middle of the flowering season where the bean formation is ongoing the excess rains prevent the beans to develop adequately and cause trees to produce either black or hollow beans, also known as floaters, while the bean size similarly will be reduced.
The one number that is sure to rise is domestic consumption. The growing popularity of coffee drinking during the last 10 years will continue to cut into the volume of Indonesian beans available for exports, analysts and industry officials agree. With imports in the last three years surging to between 1 and 1.45 million bags and analysts estimating Indonesian consumption headed to between 4.2 and 4.5 million bags by 2016 and …
For the full story on the climate effect on Indonesia’s coffee industry, please see:
And for more on Indonesia’s struggling coffee crops, don’t miss these insight reports:
“Indonesia’s 2012-13 and 2013-14 Crops Both Down As Rains Cause Havoc”
“Focus on Indonesia’s as New 2013-14 Coffee Crop Seen Down 25%”