Komodo Dragons and Blue Coffee

By: Dana Foster

Flores is one of the Lesser Sunda Islands, located in the Eastern half of Indonesia and home to Indonesia’s Komodo National Park, one of the new 7 Wonders of the World. The National Park was founded in 1980 to protect the Komodo dragon and other marine species have been more recently been included. Flores has a burgeoning specialty coffee sector supported by the local government, the Indonesian Coffee and Cocoa Reserach Institute (ICCRI) and the private sector. PT. Indokom Citra Perasa is one of the principal marketers of Flores coffee.

This Fair Trade, Organic and Rainforest Alliance certified Blue Flores coffee (called ‘Blue’ due to its blue appearance when unroasted) is grown primarily by smallholder farmers of the Bajawa (Ngada) and Manggarai ethnic groups living in the volcanic highland area surrounding the central hill towns of Bajawa and Ruteng. Farmers traditionally grow coffee under shade trees such as Erythrina, Albizia, and Laucauna. These shade trees and other conservation agroforestry practices also protect the surrounding jungle and its myriad exotic flora and fauna.

Ruteng is the capital of the Manggarai district, located at the foot of a high mountain range in a network of valleys.  Much of Flores’ specialty coffee comes from growing areas around Wae Rebo village, located deep in the jungle of the Manggarai district.

Smallholder farmers from the Bajawa ethnic group in Bajawa, Ngada have been particularly keen to improve quality.  New technologies implemented by ICCRI allow the farmers to expand  beyond traditional natural-dry processing to include washed and wet-hulled processing methods. Two farmer groups, Fa Masa and Suka Maju, pioneered washed, dry-hulled coffee in Flores as early as 2005.  Their hard work has resulted high quality coffee which fetches higher quality premiums, leading four other farmer groups to improve their own coffee quality.

With dedicated farmer groups, ICCRI providing farmer training and quality control support and PT. Indokom Citra Persata focusing on shortening the marketing chain from farm-gate to exporter, the future of specialty coffee on the island of Flores is looking very bright.


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