Free Shipping on all marketplace

Herman Willem Deandels

"The Governor-General Willem van Outshoorn immediately summoned all Priangan regents to be involved in the plan of planting coffee in Java"

St. Domingue (Haiti today) evolved into a big coffee producing country in the Caribbean islands after receiving seeds of Coffee arabica from St. Domingue were shipped to European and America’s market. In 1791, the French Revolution provoked a slave rebellion in St. Domingue that led into the revolution. The coffee production in St. Domingue collapsed, and push the prices in Java and America. (Topik 2004: 13).

The Dutch responded to the increasing price of coffee in the world market by cultivating it on a large scale in the Java island. Along the Northern coast of the Java island was coffee planted. It market the beginning of growing coffea arabica out of the Priangan area.

The break down of communication lines from Holland to Batavia because of the Napoleonic War in Europe was used by the VOC officials for their personal gains. They sold the coffee at higher price to the merchants from the United States, France and Britain who anchored their ships in the harbor of Batavia and Padang in the Western coast of Sumatera.

The corruptions that were out of control in the VOC organization had forced the legendary Dutch trading company to be closed down in 1799 (Koesoemahatmadja, 1978: 46).

The Netherland was conquered by the French in the Napoleonic War, in 1806 and the government system was converted from Bataafsche Republiek to a Koninkrijk Holland (the Netherlands Kingdom), which was ruled directly by Lodewijk Napoleon, the brother Napoleon Bonaparte. In the former VOC’S territories, a new government were formed under the name of the Dutch East Indies (Coolsma, 1881: p. 42 and Bastin, 1957: p. 15 in the Hardjasaputra 2004: 66).

At the time Britain had just began to take control of Malaya (Malaysia and Singapore), so the position of Java island was important for Napoleon to defend from the British’s attack. It was one of Napoleon Bonaparte mandates to Herman Willem Daendels we as appointed the GovernorGeneral for the Dutch East Indies (1808-1811). The second mandate was to fix the administration system in Java island which were considered messy.

Under the administration of Governor General Herman Willem Daendels (1808-1811), Java island and all former VOC’S areas had become a representation of French’s power in the Asia region.


            Daendels had paid special attention to the coffee plantations in Java because coffee was a primadona that gave many advantages for the Dutch.

            The first move of Daendels in coffee was to issue Governor-General Dercee, dated March 15, 1808, to allow local people who grew coffee could deliver their coffee directly to the regents or the aristocrat, as practiced when VOC was in power.


On June 9, 1808, Daendels formed an The Inspector General for Coffee, chaired by Winckleman (Marihandono 2005: 244). The Inspector General was in charge of organizing everything in the area of coffee plantations, starting from clearing land for plantations, collecting, until delivering coffee to the government’s warehouses across the Java island.

Every year the Inspector General reported the list of coffee plantations across Java to the Governor-General. He also had an obligation to conduct an inspection to all the coffee plantations in Java. In one of his reports, winckleman mentioned that coffee as mandatory plants for each family on the Java island, which was previously only 200 trees, could be developed to 500 coffee trees.

In performing his duties, the Inspector-General was entitled to appoint labor inspectors of plantation as long as he got permission from the Governor-General. The labor inspector was given the military position which was equivalent to captain. And in return, he had an obligation to deliver 300 baskets of coffee or equivalent to 126 pounds coffee per basket. For those who did not reach that amount, they would be downgraded to the ‘first lieutenant’ until they could deliver 300 baskets of coffee.


Daendels also issued a decree dated April 4, 1809 about the coffee price standard for all Java island. The price of coffee per basket weighing 225 pounds was 4 silver ringgit for common people. Meanwhile, coffee sold by the regents was priced one ringgit per basket weighing 126-128 pounds, without any discounts from any parties.

In addition, Daendels issued additional decree dated August 3, 1809 stated that the price was valid without any discounts from any parties. As there was the case in the Semarang prefecture esspecially Salatiga, Boyolai, Ungaran and Jambu when coffee delivered by farmers to the government’s warehouses got price reduction for additional freight charges (Marihandono 2005: 246).


To make the supervision easier, between 1808 and 1809, Daendels divided the Priangan region into two according to either ‘coffee-producing region’ or ‘non-coffee-producing region’. Regency of Cianjur, Sumedang, Bandung and Parakanmunacang was included into the ‘coffee-producing region’ and were called Jaccatrasche en Preangerbovelanden (Jakarta and Priangan rural area). Meanwhile, the area of Limbangan, Sukapura and Galuh was included into ‘non-coffee producing region’ and together with Cirebon were called Cheribonsche Preangerlanden (Hardjasaputra 2004: 44).

This reorganization had a remarkable effect on the position of regents. In the main coffee producing area, the position of regents. In the main coffee producing area, the position of regent was strong, because the success of the coffee production dependen on the regent. While in a ‘non coffee-producing region’ the regent could lose his position at any time. Sukapura regent, Raden Tumenggung’ Wiradadaha VIII (1807-1811) was overthrown as a regent because he did not want to plant patchouli in the field as a substitution of coffee. His reason to refuse growing patchouli was because the farmers could no longer grow rice and vegetables if patchouli was grown in the same field.


Governor General Herman Willem Daendels made effort to directly rule without intermediaries of regent. Therefore, he changed the role of the regent from local authority who were fully in power by heritage, to be an authority position in the structure of government.

By this regulation, the regent could be replaced at any time by the Dutch government, because the status of regent was an official of the Dutch East Indies government. As a government official, the regent was paid salary every month by the government (Hardjasaputra 2004: 43).

Consequently, Daendels was entitled to exercise administrative sanctions to the regent, if he did not carry out his orders. Parakanmuncang Regent, Raden Tumenggung Aria Wira TanurejaI was fired because he refused to plant 300,000 coffee trees in his area. The dismissal of Sukapura regent, Raden Tumenggung Wiradadaha VIII (1807-18011), was followed by the elimination of Sukapura district to be combined with Limbangan districts. Some parts of Limbangan districts were united to regency of Cianjur, Bnadung, Sumedang and Parakanmuncang, as coffee producing area (Besluit dated March 2, 1811).


Another phenomenal policy of Daendels was the construction of a mega road project from Anyer in the West of Java to Panarukan in the East Java. The road construction was initially aimed to facilitate mail communication between central and local government, as the road was called Groote Postweg (Post Road). The Post Road construction became a priority of Daendels, because it was one of Napoleon Bonaparte’s mandates to him to as reorganize the administration in the Dutch East Indies. (Hal.57-63)

And then, the road also served as mean for transporting agriculture product including coffee from plantation to the port of Sund Kelapa located in delta of Ciliwung River.

Base don Daendels orders, the regents acted as the Dutch East Indies government officials were responsible to the construction of Post Road in ich of their regions, including providing manpower to carry out the road construction (Hardjasaputra, 2004: 42).

The Post Road (Groote Postweg) connected the cities from Anyer to Panarukan. Every 30-40 km, there were a Post Guard as the place to rest and change horses. This Post Guard then was developed into a city. Therefore, the cities along the Post Road had distance from each other around 30-40 km. Some argued that the pathway used to build the Post Road was part of the village streets built by the troops of Sultan Agung while attached Batavia in 1628. The Post Road construction was considered phenomenal, because it was completed Daendels only in one year.


When Herman Willem Daendels was appointed as Governor General of the Dutch East Indies, in 1808, the export of coffee from Java island was about 7, 289 tons. Ironically, although Daendels was well known as a figure who consistently made regulation for coffee plant, at the end of his administration, the export of coffee from Java only remained 1,224 tons (Bulbeck et all 1998: 148).

In a report submitted by Winckleman as inspector General for Coffee, dated May 16, 1811, he complained that the regents, supervisors and officials of the coffee plants, which contributed to the failure of the production of coffee in Java (Marihandono 2005: 248).

Winckleman might forgot the historical fact that during Koffie-stelsel, the regents involvement since the beginning had made the Java coffee production successfully replace the position of Macha coffee, and dominate the coffee market Europe.

The weak relationships between Daendels and the nobles and regents in Java Island had been identified as one of the causes for the coffee production failure in Java. Besides that, the political intrigue within the government body had created enemies for Daendels, including the former Higher Justice van Pollanen who in the future was assigned to start the trade contract with the Americans. Although his first mission was failed, van Pollanen then was successful to close the trade contract with the American, although with lower price than was agreed previously.

Subscribe below for Daily Coffee Stories

Copyright © 2021 – Nomar Kopi

Share this: