Java has a long history of cultivation. As indicated by the name, the variety was introduced to the island of Java directly from Ethiopia by the Dutch in the early 19th century.
It was originally thought to be a Typica selection. In the mid-20th century, it was brought to Cameroon by a local farmer via the Vilmorin company, which acquired the seeds in Java from Porteres (a famous breeder). In Cameroon, the breeder Pierre Bouharmont observed that it was partially tolerant to coffee berry disease (CBD), a prevalent problem for coffee growers in Africa, and well adapted for smallholder growers using few inputs. After nearly 20 years of selection, it was released for cultivation in Cameroon in 1980-90.
It was originally thought to be a Typica selection. But genetic fingerprinting of molecular markers has revealed that Java is a selection from an Ethiopian landrace population called Abysinia.
It was introduced to Costa Rica in 1991 by the Centre de Coopération Internationale en Recherche Agronomique pour le Développement (CIRAD) by breeder Benoit Bertrand. The objective was to provide options for smallholders using low inputs, as well as for CBD tolerance (CBD is not currently present in Central America, but there is concern it may move to the region). Seeds were sent to PROMECAFE countries, but it was never released in any of the countries. Subsequently Java’s quality potential at high altitudes has been recognized. The first Central American country to officially recognize Java was Panama in 2016.
It represents an interesting alternative to the Geisha, which high cup quality but is more resilient for small farmers with better tolerance of coffee leaf rust and CBD.