Exploring coffee culture of West Java, Indonesia

Last month I travelled to Indonesia for the first time. It was also my first time at a coffee plantation which I dreamt of visiting for a long time.

As you might have seen on my Instagram, I’ve been working with Nespresso for a while, and I couldn’t have been more excited when they invited me to visit the coffee farms they work with in West Java as part of their AAA Sustainable Quality™ Programme, and to meet the coffee farmers.


I didn’t know much about coffee production before and seeing the whole process from bean to cup has made me more appreciative of my daily cup of coffee.

Did you know that Indonesia is currently number 4 coffee producer in the world? The country has a long history of growing coffee - the Dutch brought Arabica coffee plants to Indonesia in the 17th century.  Unfortunately, in the end of the 19th century a huge portion of the coffee plants in the region contracted coffee rust, a fungus that spread very quickly and wiped out entire plantations, devastating the colonial Indonesian coffee industry. 

Coffee farming is currently experiencing a new boom with many farmers switching from growing vegetables to coffee. Nespresso works with about 1000 farmers throughout the country, most of them are small holders with farms of up to 2,5 acres. Most coffee farmers here use traditional organic practices.

Java tea plantation

On the photo above you can see the difference between a tea plantation and a coffee plantation - while tea grows in the sun, coffee needs shade. When planting coffee trees, farmers also plant shade trees. Nespresso has helped the local farmer’s they work with to plant over 100,000 trees in Indonesia over the past 4 years.

The first coffee farm we visited has approximately 2,500 coffee trees. The coffee harvest usually starts in April. The ripe coffee cherries that are ready to be picked are red in colour. Most coffee cherries contain 2 beans.

We made a small contribution to the harvest and had a go at coffee picking ourselves.

Picking coffee cherries West Java
Coffee cherries West Java

The farmers were very friendly and even though they hardly spoke any English, we managed to communicate with just smiles and gestures.

After picking, we joined the farmers for a delicious homemade lunch.

Traditional Indonesian lunch at the coffee farm

After the coffee cherries are picked, they are brought to a wet mill where the pulp is separated from the beans, then the beans are washed and dried in the sun.

Java coffee wet mill community centre

On the middle left image you can see the whole journey of a coffee bean - coffee cherries, wet beans, dry beans and green beans after the parchment covering them is removed. Only afterwards the beans are roasted.

Coffee drying at wet mill in West Java

The dry mill we visited is also a community centre. It was interesting to see that the farmers have no obligation to sell their beans to Nespresso, and are welcome to sell to whoever will pay them the most for their beans.  The beans are sorted by hand and Nespresso only purchases the highest quality beans.

We did coffee cupping where we tried coffee made with underripe and overripe beans and saw how big the difference is!

Coffee cupping
Coffee cupping

The farmers offered us to try a traditional local dessert - sticky rice balls stuffed with palm sugar which were delicious.


On the second day in West Java we visited another coffee farm. The frees here are shared as Christmas trees, while the type of coffee is the same - arabica. Both arabica and robusta coffee trees grow in Indonesia but both farms we visited had only arabica plants.

Coffee farm west java Indonesia

We spent some time with the farmers to learn about their challenges and how Nespresso helps them with the AAA Sustainable Quality™ Programme, and took part in planting new coffee and shade trees. The farmers are encouraged to grow vegetables alongside the coffee plants to provide them with a steady food supply.

Coffee farm West Java

Below are some more photos and our delicious lunch from the day.

Indonesia West Java
West Java Indonesia

The next step in the coffee production process after the wet mill is the dry mill. This is where the parchment covering the beans is removed.

Indonesia dry mill workers
West Java Dry mill coffee production
West Java coffee

To meet Nespresso quality standards, the green beans are sorted by hand before being packed and sent to Switzerland for roasting and capsule production.

We met so many wonderful ladies working at the facility who showed us how to differentiate the good beans from the faulty ones.

On the third and last day of the trip we explored the vibrant coffee culture of Bandung.

Contou coffee shop

Cafe Jardin

Cafe Jardin Bandung
sydwic cafe bandung java

This trip wouldn’t be complete without all the wonderful locals we’ve met. I really hope to return to Indonesia one day to explore the other sides of its culture.

In collaboration with Nespresso. All opinions are my own.

Intagrammer's guide to 48 hours in Singapore

Many people are choosing Singapore as a stopover while travelling to Asia but not many are staying for more than a day. I’d like to show you here that there’s a lot more to see in Singapore than you might think.

Singapore Garden's by the bay

Traditional Peranakan houses

The best spot to see the traditional Peranakan houses is Joo Chiat Road, where you’ll find early 20th century shop-houses, terrace houses and bungalows - in a myriad of rainbow colours! The area is quite residential and is slightly off the centre but a quick trip there is really worth it.

The easiest and cheapest way to get around Singapore is by public transport with an EZ-Link card (similar to Oyster card in London) - it can be purchased from the customer service counters at MRT (underground) stations for $12 (this includes a $5 nonrefundable deposit). You can use it both in buses and underground. Taxis are also reasonably priced, download Grab app (analogue of Uber).

Singapore Peranakan houses

Gardens by the Bay

If you have a limited amount of time in Singapore, one spot not to miss is Gardens by the Bay. They look equally amazing during the day and at night.

Singapore Gardens by the bay
Singapore Gardens by the bay

While the gardens are free to visit, you’ll need to purchase separate tickets to go inside the Cloud Forest and the Flower Dome.

Flower Dome Gardens by the bay

For a different perspective of the gardens and the surrounding Marina Bay area go on a Skyway (a separate ticket is required but it’s worth it). Make sure to be around the Surertree Grove at 7:45pm or 8:45pm for a spectacular free light and music show Garden Rhapsody.

There’s another free light and water show Spektra at Marina Bay Sands. Both shows are really beautiful and worth watching if you have time.

Marina bay sands Singapore

Little India

One of the most vibrant areas of Singapore is Little India. Don’t miss the colourful Residence of Tan Teng Niah, one of the last surviving Chinese villas in the area.

Little India Singapore

Another famous Instagram spot is the rainbow coloured MICA Building, or the "Old Hill Street Police Station", one of Singapore's most colourful colonial buildings. 



When in Singapore, you can’t miss the Chinatown - perfect for trying all the street food and admiring the colourful Peranakan shop-houses.

Chinatown Singapore


Nowadays the area is most famous as a shopping destination but I went there mainly to visit the modern Library@Orchard located inside the shopping centre Orchard Central.

After admiring the library, don’t miss Emerald Hill Road just off Orchard Road, lined up with traditional houses and a cool bar with quirky interiors in one of the shop-houses.

The Pinnacle at Duxton

I didn’t have an opportunity to visit any other viewpoints in the city but the 360 views from the Pinnacle at Duxton are quite impressive. It’s a residential building with a public rooftop on the 50th floor. Getting access to the rooftop is a little tricky - you need to have a transport EZ-link card I mentioned earlier (you’ll have to tap it to get in and out) and $6 cash to pay the entrance fee.

Pinnacle at the Duxton
Pinnacle at the Duxton

Artscience Museum

The building of the museum surrounded by water lilies is very interesting to see on its own. If you have time pop into the Future World exhibition - fun both for kids and adults.

Marina bay sands

Chinese Gardens

Located well off the city centre Chinese gardens are a piece of calm in the busy city and a nice place to hide from the heat. Plus there’s a free viewing point on top of the 7-Storey Pagoda.

Chinese garden Sungapore

Other places to consider

The famous Marina Bay Sands hotel with an infinity swimming pool. You can get to the Observation Deck for $23 without staying at the hotel.

Haji Lane and Arab Street

Singapore Botanic Gardens

Jewel at Changi airport

What to see in Japan in March - my trip highlights

Japan is charming, exciting and overwhelming. You visit once and become a fan forever.

It's impossible not to fall in love with its traditions, temples and people. No matter if you prefer discovering cities or nature - Japan has it all. 

This trip was my second time in Japan and I'm really hoping not the last one as I still have a long list of places I'd love to see. There's a lot to cover so in this post I'm going to share the highlights of my recent trip to Kanto region. 

As my trip started in Tokyo here's a photo of the beautiful Imperial Palace - a separate post on Tokyo is coming soon. 

Tokyo Imperial Palace
Tokyo crossing

Sadly, the weather wasn't great on arrival but that view from Tokyo City View in Roppongi hills is still amazing - offering wonderful skyline perspective of this buzzing city.

Tokyo Roppongi hills view

Shousenkyo Ropeway

Having left Tokyo and moving further north we got lucky to be able to see Mount Fuji, the highest mountain in Japan and one of its well-known symbols. This view is from Shousenkyo Ropeway, where you go up on a funicular to get to the top of the observation deck.

Mount Fuji


The following night we stayed in Matsumoto and couldn't miss an opportunity to take an early morning walk to Matsumoto Castle, the oldest castle donjon remaining in Japan. Because of the elegant black walls, Matsumoto Castle is sometimes called 'Crow Castle'.

Matsumoto Castle

Jigokudani monkey park

Our next stop was the famous Jigokudani monkey park. Jigokudani means "Hell's Valley". The name derived from the very steep cliffs surrounding the area with the steam and boiling water coming from the hot springs.

The park is famous for its wild Japanese macaques, more commonly referred to as snow monkeys, that come to bath in the hot springs. It wasn't snowing when we visited and not very cold so there were not too many monkeys bathing but they were still so fun to watch!

Jigokudani Snow monkey park

Zenkoji temple

It was sad to say goodbye to the monkeys but we had to move on with our packed programme. Zenkoji Buddist temple is located in Nagano, the city you might remember as 1998 winter Olympics host. With Olympics coming back to Japan in 2020 (summer Olympics in Tokyo this time) it was even more interesting to see this city. 

Zenkoji temple

I love visiting Japanese temples and shrines - it's so great to see how Shintoism and Buddism peacefully coexist together with many people following both religions at the same time. Next to the temples you can see omikuji - fortune-telling paper strips that can range from having a great blessing to a great curse. Many Japanese people carry the good ones with them but leave the bad ones hanging on the trees or next to the temples.

Plum blossom

Japan is famous for its sakura blossom but not many people know that plum trees bloom before the cherry trees and are popular in Japan too! 

We got lucky to visit Akima Bairin plum farm in Annaka that has 35000 plum trees. As you can see, the flowers were just starting to appear but it was still impressive to see. Plums are grown to produce plum wine, to be eaten pickled or in those sweets that we tried in the plum farm's shop (pictured below).

Akima Bairin plum farm
Akima Bairin plum farm

During this trip, I got to try a lot of traditional Japanese food I haven't tried before. It's very common to have lunch or dinner consisting of a few small plates. Pictured below is okkirikomi - hand-kneaded flat, wide udon noodles and seasonal vegetables, simmered in plenty of broth seasoned with soy sauce or miso that are popular in Gunma prefecture. I loved this lady working in the restaurant and asked to take her portrait. She didn't speak any English but our guides helped me to translate.

Another interesting experience was the stay at the traditional Japanese hotel - ryokan Nikko Hotel Seikoen. There are many ryokans across the country and they usually include a hot bath (onsen), sleeping on a tatami on a futon bed on the floor and set traditional Japanese breakfast and dinner menus. I loved the colourful kimonos we all got to wear too!

Ryokan Japan

Nikko Toshogu

It was raining and the trip was almost coming to an end, but one of the most wonderful places was still waiting for us to be seen. Nikko Toshogu, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a beautifully decorated shrine complex consisting of more than a dozen buildings set among the old cedar trees. The atmosphere there is truly magical and I highly recommend adding this place to your travel list. 

Nikko Toshogu

Tips before you go

If you are planning a trip to Japan I recommend downloading Japan Official Travel App that is packed with tips on places to see, best ways to travel and loads of other useful information.

The best way to travel across the country is with the JR Rail Pass, available to tourists only, it has to be purchased before travelling to Japan. You can buy it for 7, 14 and 21 days and it's valid on most trains, Tokyo Monorail, some buses and ferries.

Not everyone speaks English but public transport signs and announcements are available in English - so I didn't find it a problem. Most restaurants have menus with pictures so you can always point out a dish you'd like to order. I'd recommend taking the medicines you know you might need as finding your regular medicine in Japan might be a little tricky. 

I was a guest of JNTO, all opinions are my own.