Coffee Culture

Coffee should be black as hell, strong as death and

sweet as love

          Crema Coffeeshop Brochure




Drinking coffee is always part of our Indonesian culture since ages ago.  Look at all the warung kopi in the villages, hamlets and alongside the main roads outside Jakarta and other big cities.  The kind of coffee they serve varied, but generically they serve kopi tubruk.  Tubruk means collision in the real sense, whereby the coffee they serve is directly poured over by boiling water, without any filter. Then you let it sits and simmer for 2-3 minutes and when you drink, you still can taste and chew on the smaller debris of the coffee beans. This is where the collision happens, between the coffee itself and the pallate of the drinker.  Heaven!


In Indonesia coffee plantation can be found across the nation, from way up north in Aceh to as far as Papua.  I have tasted various kind from all over the world and I am more than happy to tell you that Indonesian coffee has rich flavour and body to the taste, and comparable to other coffee coming from all over the globe.


Let me share some examples I have tasted locally.  In Aceh, my favorite is Ulee Kareng coffee.  The name comes from the origins of the plantation.  The owner of the coffee houses here are usually roasting and blending the coffee to be served in their own shop.  They have a very unique way to blend and process it to a drink.  Ulee Kareng coffee tastes strong and comparable to Italian one.  They serve it in a glass.  People love to drink it with plenty of sugar.  I could not be bothered to put sugar in a coffee, let alone milk, or else I will loose the taste all together.  Another potent coffee from Aceh is Gayo with its strong aroma and rich taste.


When I visited Padang, West Sumatra, Mandailing coffee is my choice.  I tasted the one from Mandailing estate and fell in for it since.  It does not have an acid taste after you drink it.  And the aroma will blow you away!


Driving up from Semarang to Magelang, you can have a pit stop at Eva Coffee in Ambarawa, or enjoy the picturesque view of the Merbabu/Sumbing mountain while sipping coffee at the Losari Coffee Plantation.  Both places are serving the Java Arabica type of coffee.  Losari has its own plantation in their estate and also roasting and toasting them on a daily basis.  We can taste the toasted beans once they are done. The way to eat it is to put some brown sugar (gula Jawa) and crunch it together with the bean.  I love the bitterness of the beans.  A Java Jampit coffee has an acidic after taste, but the first sip is rich and full bodied.


Coffee Bali is another kind of Arabica/Robusta.  I would go for a tubruk style rather than processing it from coffee machine. Lesser on my favourite list.  I am yet to find and taste a genuine Toraja coffee.


The movie Bucket List with Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, brought back the craze of Kopi Luwak.  The luwak (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus) denizen of the coffee of Java, Sumatra and Sulawesi eats only the ripest of the coffee cherries.  Not being digested properly, the luwak deposits them on the jungle floor where they are eagerly collected by the locals.  The stomach acids and enzymatic action involved in this unique fermentation process produces the beans for the world’s rarest coffee beverage.


My latest Kopi Luwak fixed costed me USD8 for a sizeable cup in Kopi Luwak café in Semarang airport.  Either I was psyched up with this convincing stories in Bucket List about how great it tasted or it indeed tasted wonderful, I believe Kopi Luwak is not as great as Mandailing coffee. Well, it is me and my opinion.  In any case, I am glad I have got the opportunity to sip it until the last drop.


On a side note, from Bucket List, I was more interested in John Mayer’s single ‘Say’ rather than the coffee story.  But this would be elaborated in a different section…


Well, in any case that you do not have the time to go to all these places in Indonesia, try La Tazza coffee shop in Ambassador Mall in Kuningan.  They have a good selection of the Indonesian coffee produces and process it by using siphon for each serving.


Enjoy your cuppa coffee today!


To miss coffee, is to miss out on a ‘better, healthier and longer’ life.Dr Ernesto Illy, honorary chairman of Illycaffe


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