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You may have noticed at the local coffee shop, somebody ordering a nice cup of Java.  While coffee generally has a large number of nicknames such as joe and brew, the term Java to describe a cup of coffee has stuck around for centuries.  That's because Java is actually a term described to coffee beans grown on the island of Java, Indonesia's main island.

The term Java is often used to describe coffee grown in other areas but coffee aficionados understand that a true cup of Java coffee are made from coffee beans from the actual island.  While some may question what the big deal is about labeling coffee beans that aren't from Java as being Java coffee, coffee lovers understand the influence of the growing conditions of a specific area on coffee plants.  Coffee beans produced on coffee plants will be affected by the soil, altitude, and climate of the area that it is grown in.  The conditions of the coffee growing area will impact the characteristics of its growing coffee beans, such as the flavor of the coffee and the aroma.  The reason why Java has become such a common slang for any type of coffee is because of its reputation as one of the best tasting cups of coffee.

The story of the beginnings of Java coffee is a fascinating one that took place while Indonesia was under Dutch control.  Introduced to Indonesia around 1696 by the Dutch East India Company, Java has become a fundamental component of Indonesian culture.  Coffee and tea plantations were created on the island of Java with the coffea arabica (Arabica coffee) plant being planted in these plantations.  While the Java tea products are not considered to be anything special and are not viewed as a gourmet tea, the coffee produced in Java is a whole different story.

Viewed as a gourmet coffee, the most sought after Java coffee are grown on the far eastern end of Java in the vicinity of the Ijen volcanic complex.  In this area reside the four farms originally established by the Dutch government for coffee production.  These four farms (Kayumas, Blawan, Djampit, Pancoer) are part of the government estate, which grows approximately 85% of the coffee in East Java, close to Bali on the Ijen area.  The Java coffee produced by the government estate is generally of a higher quality than the Java coffee produced by the private estate.  The optimal conditions for coffee plants to be grown in Java is that they reside at an altitude of between 3,000 and 6,000 feet, with the majority of coffee growing areas residing at a plateau region of 4,500 feet.

The standard in which most other coffees are compared to, Java coffee is now among the most popular coffee products in the world.  Its taste has been described as exquisite, as coffee lovers swear by its spicy and strong flavor.  Java coffee is also known for its heavy body, exquisite acid balance, and chocolate-like undertones.  Additionally, Java coffee is praised for not having the earthy and dirty qualities of other coffees produced in other areas of Indonesia.

The impact of Java coffee on the island of Java has not just been economic but also cultural.  Coffee is an ingrained way of life for the Javanese and visitors of Java residents will notice that they will be automatically served a cup of coffee when visiting somebody's home without even asking for one.  Drink it up, though, because Java coffee is one of the best in the world and the standard of gourmet coffee.