March 28, 2016 Coffee & Company

Sulawesi Coffee from Indonesia at Starbucks

The history of coffee in Indonesia began with a bit of intrigue.

In 1690, Dutch traders smuggled coffee plants out of the Arab port city of Mocha, hoping to break the Arabian monopoly on coffee production. Their sailing ships eventually carried the seedlings over thousands of miles to Indonesia, then a Dutch colony. The coffee trees thrived in the archipelago’s rich volcanic soil and the warm tropical climate, and Indonesian coffees were soon being embraced in coffeehouses around the world.

Three centuries later, Indonesia’s islands continue to produce some of the world’s most extraordinary coffees, each with its own terroir, or “taste of place.” 

Coffees from the island of Sumatra tend to be full-bodied, leaving a smooth feeling in the mouth and lingering flavors of dried herbs and fresh earth. Coffees from the western side of Java’s mountains are known for their silky milk chocolate flavor and texture, while coffees grown on the eastern slopes can have earthy notes and hints of fresh sage. Coffees from the high mountain jungles of the island of Sulawesi have the herbal flavor characteristic of its island neighbors, but with layers of spice and a smooth, buttery mouthfeel.

For a limited time, Starbucks is bringing Sulawesi Single Origin to Starbucks® stores in the U.S. and Canada in 1-pound whole bean bags and K-Cup® Packs.

‘A coffee garden’

Starbucks coffee buyer Ann Traumann came across this exceptional coffee from southern Sulawesi’s remote high-mountain jungles of Toraja.

“The landscape is beautiful, like nothing I’ve ever seen,” said Traumann. “I call it a ‘coffee garden,’ where small-holder farmers still grow their crops using the old farming traditions. You’ll find a mix of everything, with small clusters of coffee trees alongside cocoa trees, with spices and vanilla.”  

Starbucks has a long history of working with Sulawesi farmers, according to Anthony Carroll, the 20-year Starbucks partner who created Sulawesi Single Origin. The company has been collaborating with the island’s coffee growers since 1996 and helping build the Sapan Kindergarten in Tana Toraja.

“Sulawesi coffee was on our original menu in 1971, and we have bought coffee from the region ever since,” said Carroll. “Now, we’re excited to share it as a single-origin with our customers. It’s exotic, but refined – it just goes to show how the place imparts the flavor.” 

The coffee is 100 percent C.A.F.E. Practices, verified by an independent party to ensure that the coffee is grown according to high economic, social and environmental benchmarks.


For more information on this story, contact the Starbucks Newsroom