Various coffee cultures and hangouts are a boon to the rising generation of coffee drinkers across the archipelago.
Coffee was not a species found in Indonesia until in the early 17th century when Dutch tradesmen brought Arabica coffee plants to the country. With time, Indonesia has turned not only into being one of the largest coffee producers in the world, but the country’s rich diversity has also given birth to coffee-drinking cultures that vary from one region to another.
Every region has its own coffee-drinking culture to offer. Locals in East Java are accustomed to drinking coffee using saucers. They like to sip their coffee from the saucer, so as to cool down the hot liquid.
In Yogyakarta and Central Java, kopi tubruk is very popular. The term, literally meaning ‘collision coffee’, is derived from the coffee-making process itself ‘ the collision of coffee powder, sugar and hot water into a hot beverage. It is actually ‘mud’ coffee that blends ingredients from several regions, mostly Java and Bali.
Making a cup of kopi tubruk is very simple, indeed; just add two teaspoons of coffee and sugar (or without sugar as some people may prefer).
Or you can go to any warung (food stall) in these two regions; they usually serve kopi tubruk to accompany your meal, or you can simply have a glass of the drink paired with local snacks. Locals from different generations like to have a chat while sipping their coffee in warung.
On Sumatra Island, Lintong and Mandheling are among the most popular variants. They come from the traditional Arabica variant cultivated in North Sumatra. Going to South Sumatra, you can sample a nice Lampung Robusta.
People on Sumatra Island are used to drinking coffee on many occasions. If you have time to visit Medan, North Sumatra’s capital is organizing the Medan International Coffee Festival 2015 from May 8 to 10, showcasing everything about coffee, from coffee beans to grinders and roasters.
In Aceh, coffee is an inseparable part of everyday life. In the province’s capital, Banda Aceh, coffee shops can be found in almost every corner of the city serving Aceh Gayo ‘the local Arabica coffee harvested from plantations in the highlands of Central Aceh.
Bali has quite a few good coffee beans worth a sip. Here on the famous Island of Gods, coffee is also used as part of a religious ritual, presented as a sesajen (offering).
Going to Toraja, South Sulawesi, you will find excellent Arabica coffee grown in highland plantations. Let’s not forget the famous kopi luwak, the most coveted civet coffee grown in Java, Sumatra and Sulawesi.
For most of Indonesians living in rural areas, part of the coffee-drinking tradition is to serve the drink, as a choice over tea usually, to guests. Warung are still a popular venue as coffee hangouts among rural people.
Meanwhile, the urban coffee-drinking culture in Jakarta and other major cities has led to a mushrooming of coffee hangouts, including those of domestic and international chains.
Many urbanites see that the US-based coffee franchise Starbucks pioneered the culture when it entered the Indonesian market in 2002.
‘Unlike the wine-drinking culture, which has been recently brought from overseas into the country, what set the trend is actually our own coffee-drinking culture that has existed for hundreds of years. The shift from the previous generation is from having a sip in a simple traditional warung to having one a modern coffee shop.
‘So, the current generation is easily taking up with the local custom of the coffee-drinking culture,’ said Dave Graciano Tumiwa, an F&B consultant who has assisted the opening of several eateries and coffee shops in the capital.
Despite the high quality of Indonesian coffee, Dave said that many coffee establishments in big cities serve imported coffee, mostly from Italy, followed by Columbia and Brazil. ‘The coffee beans are roasted in those countries before being brought to Indonesia.
‘Popular coffee hangouts such as Starbucks and the Coffee Bean are among those using imported beans in their coffee making. Yet, more and more coffee aficionados appreciate local coffee. Anomali Coffee and Bakoel Koffie in Jakarta are some of the places serving genuine variants from Java, Sumatra and Sulawesi.
A survey from the Association of Indonesian Coffee Exporters (AEKI) indicates that there has been a 36 percent increase in coffee consumption among Indonesians from 2010 to 2014.
‘This has also led to different characters of coffee drinkers. One may prefer cappuccino or latte, while there are people who stick with espresso. There are people who like their coffee thick and sugary and some like it black,’Dave asserted.
He remarks that the growing number of coffee hangouts in Indonesia has accommodated today’s coffee drinkers with more different items on their menus. Aside from serving a good quality of coffee, he said the hospitality aspect of a coffee shop is extended to creating a homey ambience with an edgy interior design.
‘Hanging out in a coffee shop is now an urban lifestyle. Coffee shops are meeting points for youngsters to hang out and even executives to have business discussions. So, the businesses are outdoing each other presenting not only their rich variants on the menu, but also the atmosphere.’