Spreading the Indonesian Identity through “Kopi Gayo” Diplomacy : Challenges and Opportunities

Authors : Nani Septianie & Ramadhan Dwi Saputra*

Indonesia is a country that has richness in agricultural products, where the large Indonesian agricultural production is due to climatic factors and fertile soil that can produce diverse agricultural products. Indonesia’s fertile soil is due to geological factors, especially volcanic soil formed from lava and ash which has good content for the fertility of agricultural products (Welianto, 2020). One of Indonesia’s current agricultural products that have become the daily consumption of people in the world is coffee. Based on data from Indonesia Investments, it explains that Indonesia is the 4th country that is the largest coffee producer and exporter in the world in 2016-2017 with a production output of 11,491,000 Tons and an exporter output of 6,891,000 Tons (Indonesia Investment, 2017). And in 2020, Indonesia will produce 735.9 thousand Metric Tons of coffee (Statista Research Department. 2021). With the huge production of Indonesian coffee, Indonesia produces coffee production from various regions in Indonesia with different characteristics and advantages. The superior coffee variants in Indonesia include Gayo Coffee, Kintamani Coffee, Luwak Coffee, Java Coffe, Sidikalang Coffee, and Toraja Coffe (Nurhanisah, n.d.).

Based on data from the Central Statistic Agency of Indonesia (BPS), period January to August 2021, the value of coffee exports reached US$476.76 million. In the same period, Aceh is Indonesia’s 4th largest coffee-exporting province with an export value of US$49.89 million (Timorria, 2021). On 24 October 2021, the Ministry of Trade of the Republic of Indonesia and the Ministry of Villages together with PT Astra International Tbk released Aceh Gayo Arabica coffee exports to the UK with amount of Rp1.4 billion which was managed by Darul Mujahadah Al Waliyyah Islamic Boarding School, PT Merador Kopi Berjaya, and Gayo Cooperative (Zulfikar, 2021). The government said that the development of the export release cooperation is expected to make the coffee from Indonesia known by International society. The UK is one of the 9th Indonesian coffee export destinations with an export value of US$15 million (Timorria, 2021). Gayo Coffee is an Arabica coffee variety that is one of the leading commodities that has been known in the world. Gayo Coffee comes from the Gayo Highland, Central Aceh, Indonesia. Gayo Coffee has a  high taste with a delicious and distinctive aroma, lower acidity, and has strong bitterness. The Gayo Coffee export activity to the UK shows that international cooperation in the agricultural sector continues even in the Covid-19 Pandemic situation for supplying the coffee and Indonesia can strengthen its country’s identity through the export of Gayo Coffee which is one of Indonesia’s specialty coffees which is a source of Indonesia’s power by Introducing of Indonesian Coffee to international society, especially  Introducing the advantages of coffee to partner countries. The Public Diplomacy activities through Kopi Gayo can be an attractive tool for Indonesia in introducing Nation Branding and realizing Indonesia’s good image in the international community. Public Diplomacy activities, especially the activities carried out by non-state actors, can continue to be a long term strategy to maintain Indonesian identity and characteristics to the International community so that Indonesian identity can be known by the international community, especially through Public Diplomacy activities through the export of Gayo Coffee with different taste of the coffee.

Indonesia Must Be Expand the Opportunities to Introduce Indonesian Coffee to International Society

To strengthen Indonesia’s identity to be known by the international community, Indonesia is needed to expand its reach to other partner countries of Indonesia. By expanding Indonesian Coffee  to other partner countries, it can be Indonesia’s strategy in introducing Indonesian coffee. Based on data from the Indonesian Central Bureau of Statistics on July 21, 2021, the destination countries for Indonesian coffee exports include Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, India, Egypt, Morocco, Algeria, The United States of America, England, Germany, Italy, Romania,  Georgia, Belgium, Netherlands, Denmark, and France (Central Statistics Agency, 2021). The data shows that there are still many other partner countries that have not been involved in promoting Indonesian coffee especially in the Asian region, which is still lack involved and several European Union member countries are also required to be included as Indonesia Coffee export destinations. In addition, to strengthen Indonesian identity especially through the export of Indonesian coffee, contributions from Indonesian institutes abroad can also play an important role in strengthening Indonesian identity abroad. The institutes can be special institutes that introduce Indonesian characteristics that are more focused on promoting the socio-cultural values of each country. Not only establishing embassies in every country, but each country is required to establish special institutes that can be used as a strategy to strengthen the country’s identity by introducing the advantages possessed by countries that can interact with the international community directly.

In addition, to strengthen Indonesia’s identity through introducing coffee to the international community, Indonesia must also pay attention to the Logo or Brand which indicates the characteristics of the type of coffee being exported, so that the international society in various countries know that it is an Indonesian product. With the branding of products exported to various countries, Indonesia has a superior value that can be used as pride for Indonesia because it has succeeded in introducing the results of its natural wealth to the countries in the world. The branding of a product is very influential for the exporting country, in order to expand the taste of Indonesian Gayo Coffee abroad as well as to increase added value for Indonesian coffee exports.

Therefore, to strengthen the identity of a country, especially Indonesia, utilizing all the advantages of natural products owned by a country can be an important strategy in improving the characteristics and introducing the advantages possessed by each country. In addition, not only Indonesia, but other countries are also needed to explore and increase the superior productions of each country. And Indonesia also needs to introduce other natural wealth products to the international community besides coffee, because Indonesia is one of the countries that is rich in natural wealth. For this reason, the advantages of natural resources owned by each country greatly contribute to maximizing the introduction of the characteristics possessed by each country and the identity of a country can be recognized by some individuals in the world.

*Ramadhan Dwi Saputra, Chemical Engineering Research Assistant at Universitas Islam Indonesia)​​​.

Nani Septianie
Nani Septianie
Assistant Research at Universitas Islam Indonesia