Why Is Coffee Called Java?

Java becoming one of the names of coffee alludes to the iconic drink’s road into prominence in our civilization.

Historians believe that coffee was planted and cultivated by Ethiopians sometime during 850.

After some time, coffee planting and consumption expanded worldwide, primarily due to Dutch traders.

However, these facts do not explain why coffee is called Java.

Let’s find out how coffee got this name and other related topics.


Java History

The Dutch take credit for bringing coffee to Southeast Asia sometime in the 1600s.

Although they rigorously guarded them, the seeds were sneaked out of Arab territory.

These smuggled coffee seeds were later brought to Bali and Sumatra by the Dutch East India Company.

Ultimately, it was Java that launched its path to worldwide acclaim.

The company encountered a problem when buyers who thought Arabic was exotic were indifferent to the local Dutch coffee.

The merchants subsequently labeled the sacks with “Java,” which grew so popular that it became associated with all coffee varieties.

By the 1800s, the Dutch had tightened their grip on Java and the coffee trade.

With imperialism in full swing worldwide, supplies from this island from Indonesia became a primary supplier of coffee.

This Dutch East India Trading Company monopoly is why Java became the most-used alternative name for the drink.


Leaf Rust

In the late 1880s, an epidemic known as leaf rust wiped off a large portion of the Arabica coffee population.

This coffee plant disease is caused by a fungus that invades leaves and causes the fall of Java as a coffee source.

Yellow powdery dots on the underside of the leaves are the primary symptom of the infestation.

The wind mainly carries it, but humans could also spread the disease.

When walking through the plantation, the fungus clings to the clothing and will make its way to the leaves.



Arabica Alternatives

Once regarded as the best source of Arabica, the plague paved the way for the proliferation of Robusta and Liberica plants.

While these coffee sources are considered inferior, they have become more cost-effective.

Leaf rust has little effect on the growth and development of Robusta and Liberica, making them an acceptable substitute for Arabica.

Robusta coffee originated in Africa and was discovered in the sub-Saharan regions during the 18th century.

The species of plant called Coffea canephora is the source of this coffee, which has two primary varieties.

Nganda is a wide-spreading Robusta shrub, while Erecta grows taller than the other.

Liberica coffee is a variety of coffee that originated in a Western African country called Liberia.

This coffee plant is more resilient than Arabica since it can thrive in hot regions, is impervious to several diseases and pests, and can grow at low altitudes.

Its plants are substantially bigger than Arabica or Robusta, which yield substantial coffee beans.

These beans are well-known for their rich, smoky taste.


Modern-Day Java

The island of Java gained independence in 1949 and eventually became one of Indonesia’s most populated regions.

Over the next several decades, beans from Columbia and Brazil grew increasingly popular, negatively impacting Java’s reputation as a coffee producer.

Today, it’s still relatively simple to obtain coffee from Java.

However, due to the rise of beans produced in Latin America, the notion of the island being the world’s leading Arabica coffee source has become irrelevant.

In reality, it is not even Indonesia’s top coffee-producing region.

Sumatra and Sulawesi islands have surpassed Java as the country’s primary source of coffee plants.


Java Coffee

Now that we answered why coffee is called Java let’s learn about the specifics of beans produced on the island.

Java Arabica is a wet-processed coffee that became the top Indonesian crop exported to the Western world three centuries ago by the Dutch.

The procedure includes immediately washing the carefully selected green coffee cherries after harvest.

It effectively eliminates the fruity taste quality of the beans due to moisture. This results in a pronounced flavor but loses a lot of the body.

Java Arabica coffee features a rich, lively body and a nutty fragrance.

Its rustic flavor with notes of chocolate, sharp, nutty, and malty makes it widely popular centuries ago.

This variety blends well with other beans by offering great body and non-invasive taste characteristics.


Kopi Luwak

The reputation of coffee produced in Java is not the same as centuries ago.

However, the Indonesians have recently attempted to recapture their former glory.

Kopi Luwak is a type of Indonesian coffee that comes from the excrement of Asian palm civets.

The civet is a nocturnal cat-like species that reside in the Bali jungles.

This animal consumes coffee cherries, and the waste matter it produces will get collected.

After that, the beans from the Luwak are harvested, washed, and roasted.

In simpler terms, Kopi Luwak is coffee made from cat excrement.

While it may not sound appetizing, there is a reason this unique coffee variant is in such high demand.

Many insinuate that wild animals will only consume the best coffee cherries, ensuring no unripe beans are included when they are processed.

Furthermore, the enzymes used in the digestion change the coffee beans, resulting in a smooth flavor.

Kopi Luwak typically costs up to $300 per kilogram, but some high-end brands offer it for $2,000.

While the price is appealing, the issue with this coffee is that it is rarely genuinely wild.

As you might expect, locating wild Luwak and picking up its excrement is time-consuming.

This inefficiency is detrimental to a company’s financial line.

Another concern is that many coffees marketed as Kopi Luwak are not genuine.

Considered the most expensive coffee globally, it’s hardly unexpected that coffee dealers would exploit the opportunity.

Some unscrupulous individuals market their product as authentic Kopi Luwak, whether the beans are harvested in the wild.


Why Is Coffee Called Java: Final Thoughts

Nowadays, various names know coffee, including Joe, espresso, drip cappuccino, and others.

Older names, like Java, are archaic yet still recognizable names that reference the drink’s history.

If you consider coffee in the same notion as wine, using Java to represent where the coffee is grown and processed makes sense.