The Historical Journey of Coffee in Temanggung Regency: From Forced Plantations to Creative Processing

The road known as Jalan PTPN IX, cutting through Sidoharjo Village, Candiroto, Temanggung, bears witness to the silent journey of the region’s coffee history. With a plantation area of about 400 hectares, this regency stands as the foremost coffee producer in Central Java. Through a long journey as a coffee producer, Temanggung Regency has created a variety of unique coffee variants derived from the creativity of processors and the specific locations where the plants thrive.

Since 2017, coffee from Temanggung has been showcased at various international exhibitions, introducing the richness and uniqueness of coffee flavors from this region. In an effort to promote local coffee, Temanggung Regency continues to develop the creativity of processors, producing captivating coffee variants for coffee enthusiasts globally.

For example, Muncar Village, Gemawang, is renowned for its vanilla and mocha-scented coffee. Similarly, Jambu Village, Kledung, produces Arabica coffee with a distinct tobacco aroma. This development is evidence that Temanggung Regency is not only the largest coffee producer in Central Java but also possesses globally recognized coffee variants.

Tracing back the history, we find that coffee has been known in Temanggung Regency for two centuries. During the Dutch colonial era, coffee grew as a fence plant around the homes of farmers on the slopes of Mount Ungaran and Mount Merbabu. Initially labeled as “pagerkoffij,” “boschkoffij,” and “kampongkoffij,” it later became known as “manasuka” coffee.

In 1820, four years after the end of Thomas Stanford Raffles’ rule, Kedu farmers were ordered to plant coffee. The expansion of coffee cultivation extended to the north and south of the Kedu Residency. At its peak in 1866–1867, the area of coffee plantations reached 10,236 bahu, equivalent to about 10 million trees.

Unfortunately, the forced planting imposed by the Dutch colonial government at that time had negative consequences for the farmers. Despite the high demand for coffee in the international market, farmers felt the burden of paying land rent, a tax on the inheritance of Raffles, to the colonial government. This situation left farmers in debt and facing economic difficulties.

Although forced planting was halted in 1870, its impact persisted. It was only in 1917 that forced planting was completely abolished. During this period, Kedu’s coffee production ranked third in the entire Dutch East Indies. However, there was a decline in soil fertility and a decrease in the size of plantations due to unsustainable exploitation.

Facing these challenges, coffee processors in Temanggung continue to showcase their creativity. Through international exhibitions, they have successfully promoted Temanggung coffee on the global stage. In the future, the sustainability of coffee production in this region will be greatly influenced by policies supporting farmers, the creativity of processors, and awareness of environmental sustainability.

The historical journey of coffee in Temanggung Regency, from the colonial era to the present-day creativity of processors, proves that coffee is not just an economic commodity but also a part of the identity and cultural richness of this region. By continually developing innovations and maintaining sustainability, Temanggung Regency is ready to explore the future as one of Indonesia’s leading coffee producers.