- Updated Mar 27, 2020
- Writen by Robert Smith
What Is Java Coffee? (Origin, Dutch Connection, and More)
- Updated Aug 26, 2019
- Writen by Robert Smith
Being as popular as it is, coffee is bound to have many nicknames. But of all the names used to refer to coffee around the world, Java is one of the most common ones, and the nickname has become so widely accepted that even many dictionaries put it as one of the coffee synonyms.
However, despite the name being around for many centuries, a huge chunk of coffee lovers still do not know where it comes from or even what it means.
As a true coffee aficionado, it is always great to expand your understanding of this wonderful beverage and knowing why coffee is also referred to as Java is a good starting point. Here we help shed more light on this by explaining the origins of the name.
Origin of the Term
Java is one of the islands that make up Indonesia and where the term Java that is now fondly used as a synonym or nickname for coffee comes from. And unlike what some people might assume, this not because it was the first place to grow coffee or produces the best quality but rather due to the popularity of coffee from the area in the 17th century.
Coffee is believed to have originated from Ethiopia where it used to grow in the wild (and still does to date) but soon spread to Yemen which is one of the first places it was cultivated commercially.
And it would soon spread throughout Arabian Peninsula. Given just how profitable coffee was to the countries that grew it, there were strict laws prohibiting anyone from taking the coffee plants out of the respective Arab countries as they tried to keep its cultivation a secret to maintain the high profits.
The Dutch Connection
But, it was only a matter of time before the Dutch managed to smuggle a few plants from the Arabian Peninsula and soon they had distributed coffee plants in most of their colonies in Southeast Asia including Indonesia.
In Indonesia coffee was first planted in the islands of Java, Bali, and Sumatra. But, it seemed to do much better in Java given the more favorable climate and rich volcanic soil. Also, Java was the main island and housed the Dutch colonists' capital Batavia which is present-day Jakarta, and it was hence where most of the coffee from Indonesia was exported from.
Given the favorable climate and soil, Indonesia soon became the world's leading producer of coffee and because most of the coffee from the island nation was exported from Java, the bags would arrive in Europe with the word "Java" written on them.
As Indonesia continued to export more and more coffee, many people in the countries that imported their coffee soon started to refer to it simply as Java given the name on the bag. And over the years, the term spread and its original meaning lost somewhere along the way and most people would now just refer to any coffee as java.
Java Coffee Today
Java is still one of the main coffee producing islands in Indonesia but it is no longer the largest as over the years it has been overtaken by other islands like Sulawesi and Sumatra.
One of the main reason for the decline in production of Java coffee was a nasty incidence of leaf rust that affected a huge chunk of coffee farms on the island in the 19th century.
And although the Dutch colonists tried to revamp the coffee production by introducing the more disease-resistant varietals like Robusta and Liberica, they did not become as popular as the more flavorful Arabica varietal that previously thrived on the island.
But, you can still get some good coffee from Java today given that there are still a few large coffee farms on the island that produce and export significant volumes of coffee to different parts of the world.
What is Mocca Java?
Another coffee term you might come across as a coffee lover is Mocca Java. And like Java, it denotes where the coffee comes from. Mocca is the English name for Yemen’s main port where most of their coffee is still exported from to date and Mocca Java is a blend of coffee from Yemen and Java.
Yemeni coffee has always been famous for its fruity and more delicate flavors while Java coffee was characterized by earthy tones and a full body. Given the distinct qualities of the two common coffees, it became trendy to blend them to create a more balanced coffee that was more marketable which then led to the name Mocca Java that was used to refer to the blend.
And although many modern coffee blends will hardly use coffee from Yemen when making blends, the term Mocca Java is still commonly used and you will see it on many coffee beans packs.
Note: The term Java also refers to a computer programming language, and this is what will come to some people's mind when they first hear of the term, and this is more so for those that are not coffee fanatics. But, the name Java for the programing language was also inspired by coffee as the founders were looking for a catchy name that would appeal to anyone just like coffee.
Read More: Why is Coffee Called Joe?
For the true coffee fanatics, a cup of Java is probably the term that they would use in a fancy coffee bar when they want to look cool or knowledgeable about the brew. But, despite using the coffee synonym a lot, many people do not know its origins or even when it means.
However, this is not a big deal because you can call coffee anything you wanting including a cup of Joe. What matters is the quality of coffee you get in your coffee shop or what you make at home.
But, it does not hurt to know what commonly used coffee terms mean and where they come from. And now that you know where Java comes from, go ahead and explore other coffee terms and names to expand your understanding of the brew.