Coffee from Sulawesi


Sulawesi coffee

Sulawesi coffee beans (“Toraja”) are jewels of the Pacific coffee-growing world. Wild grown, hard to find, and utterly delightful.

Finding a good cup of this coffee is the perfect challenge for any coffee lover looking for an adventure. This article shows you exactly why this coffee is so special.

Facts about Sulawesi coffee

Sulawesi island is part of Indonesia. But coffee is not native to the multi-island nation, and the history of the plant’s arrival on the islands within the Malay archipelago is often obscure. 

It was probably in the 17th century that coffee plants were initially brought to the region. The colonial Dutch planted them in Jakarta, who believed they could create a thriving business in a coffee-friendly climate. The Dutch settlers’ experiment was a success. In time, the plants were moved to other islands, including the massive island of Sulawesi (then known as Celebes), which was in the center of the archipelago.

This former name of the island, the Toraja region, and the city of Kalossi have all lent their name to the coffee produced there. You can find Sulawesi, Sulawesi Toraja, Celebes Kalossi, etc. Often these names refer to specific regions where the beans come from, but sometimes they refer to coffee from the island itself.

How does the coffee taste?

Sulawesi coffee can be on the softer, more acidic side compared to other coffees from the archipelago. Consider, for example, Sumatran coffee, which is generally full-bodied and has a low acidity.

This does not mean that Sulawesi is too light, clear, and sour coffee. On the contrary, it is still a prosperous, dark, and pleasant variety. Sulawesi is robust, spicy, and full of life.

Sulawesi Toraja coffee flavor

  • Aroma: Nutty and chocolatey
  • Taste: Low to medium acidity; silky, creamy, heavy texture; it has warm overtones of cinnamon, cardamom, and other spices; slight hints of fruit and dark chocolate
  • Aftertaste: Smooth

Other facts about Sulawesi coffee

The cultivation and processing of coffee

The coffee is generally grown on small plots and family farms, some more than 1,800 meters above sea level.

It is harvested in late spring and early to mid-summer. Many of these factors together give the Sulawesi beans a unique taste and ensure that coffee is available in small quantities. There is a high demand in the international market. 

Sulawesi coffee is generally processed by a relatively new wet husk method, which has become very popular in the region. This is mainly due to necessity, as the humidity and rainfall can make the typical lengthy drying process difficult. 

Best coffees

Many different coffee-producing regions are scattered around the island, but two stand out from the rest. 

Sulawesi Toraja coffee

Much Sulawesi coffee is grown in and around the mountainous region of Toraja. It is one of the most famous coffee-producing regions of Sulawesi and of Indonesia in general, with several high-quality beans. You cannot get this coffee everywhere because its demand is very high. 

Sulawesi Kalossi coffee

Another coffee found in one of the highlands not far from Toraja is Kalossi coffee. Kalossi is grown in the southeastern part of the island and is named after the nearby town of Kalossi. Once again, this variant of the Sulawesi coffee bean is one of the island’s most delicious coffees. It has very low acidity, an earthy fullness, and a smooth finish. 

What do these two areas have in common? They are both located in higher elevations of Sulawesi, giving them an edge over many other coffees grown at lower elevations. 

The current situation of the coffee industry in Sulawesi

Many of Sulawesi’s farms are located in the island’s highlands, including Toraja, Kalossi, and Mamasa (the latter producing the lowest quality high-altitude beans). The rest of the lower-lying beans are also of a lower rate, which is not surprising since coffee grows best higher up. 

The island’s coffee culture is robust, with Sulawesi producing a large amount of coffee and fully participating in Indonesia’s massive contribution to the coffee world. However, many parts of the cultivation, processing, trading, and transportation processes still have essential factors that must be correctly worked out. Highly localized and hardly organized on a large scale, as in Kenya or Rwanda, farmers grow small numbers of often haphazard coffee plants and sell the harvested beans to collectors who pass them on, making quality challenging to predict without proper oversight.

For consumers, this means choosing your Sulawesi coffee beans with care. Here you should pay attention to the region or city of the island they come from and ensure that the online seller only works with reputable farms. 

How to prepare Sulawesi coffee

Sulawesi beans’ rich and full flavor works in most preparation forms, but they are best for espresso. The darkness and deep earthiness of the flavors pair perfectly with an espresso or even a coffee with a moka pot.  

When roasting Sulawesi coffee, most roasters choose a dark roast to bring out the earthy flavors, which is the most common option. Of course, you can still try lighter and medium roast profiles, all bringing out different aspects of the rich and varied flavors.

However, be careful not to roast these beans too much. They tend to show their roasted color more slowly than other beans, making it difficult to predict how far along they are in the roasting process. The trick is not to worry too much about their appearance. Instead, stick and stay focused on that second crack and blend it with other beans if necessary.


And that is our overview of the coffee grown on the island of Sulawesi. This rich, earthy, full-bodied coffee has captivated drinkers for generations and is one of the best beans to use in brewing when you can find them.