In the middle of the proliferation of coffee shop businesses that offer perfect cups of coffee and comfortable ambiances, Jakarta still leaves old and modest coffee grinding stalls with their interesting stories.
From small and dull square spaces that are tucked into a city’s frenetic and modernization, they still survive for their fanatic fans who like challenges in brewing their own coffee that suits their taste. They go beyond selling coffee and the grinding services, but these coffee stalls also offer nostalgia.
Just across the Gondangdia train station is the Toko Kopi Luwak or Luwak coffee store (Pasar Boplo, Jalan Srikaya I No. 25, Menteng). The owner, Xu Yilun, said that this store has existed since around 1930 and at first only sold daily basic food with the name Toko Kenari (walnuts store), due to his parents’ hobby of growing canaries. The store turned into selling coffee in the 1970s.
Although the store was displaced by the tragedy of a fire at the Boplo market in 2012, Yilun who is the second generation managed to save a small portion of its stuff, one of which was a coffee grinder from his parents that is still functioning well until now.
The store is full of a row of large jars containing Arabica and Robusta coffee beans. Most of the customers come and choose coffee beans then ask Yilun to grind them in the old coffee machine. A diesel-powered coffee machine sounds fills the as you wait for the coffee to be ground. After finished grinding, the coffee powder will be neatly wrapped in brown coffee paper. There isn’t any brand on the package.
From Gondangdia, the old coffee stalls hunt can be continued to Toko Sedap Jaya (Wong Hin) in Jatinegara (Jalan Pintu Pasar Timur No. 40, Pasar Jatinegara). This shop sells Biskota which in its era, from 1970 to 1980, this coffee brand dominated the coffee market in Jakarta.
Biskota coffee is wrapped in brown paper like the cover of a school book with the old spelling on it. There is a picture of a bus with a number plate that reads 1943, the year the coffee brand went on sale. This coffee wrapper has not changed until now.
The coffee business was established for the first time in 1939 by Widjaja’s family. Previously, the brand Kopi Terompet (trumpet coffee) reflected a trumpet image on the bus. The business is now run by their third generation.
Since instant coffee in sachet packs produced by large domestic and foreign companies invaded the market, this store has experienced decline in sales since a decade ago. Initially this stall was able to sell three to five tons per day, but now this coffee stall can only afford one ton. However, the old machines in this store are still grinding the coffee beans for the coffee brand.
And, the true coffee lovers should head to a legendary coffee shop Warung Tinggi Coffee (Jalan Batu Jajar, No. 35B, Hayam Wuruk). According to a book of Warung Tinggi Coffee (2013), this coffee shop is the oldest in the country which was established by Liauw Tek Soen on 31 July 1878 at Jalan Moolen Vliet Oost (now Jalan Hayam Wuruk) with the name Tek Soen Hoo on the 500 square meters land.
Over time, the descendants of Liauw Tek Soen broke up the partnership. Rudi Widjaya, the fourth generation of Tek Soen Hoo, holds the full rights of the Warung Tinggi brand. Some of them founded Bakoel Koffie, while another descendant, Yamin Widjaya created the record label company Musica Studio’s.
Warung Tinggi coffee shop sells a blend of 200 types of coffee from all regions of Indonesia, from Aceh to Wamena, Papua. Then, produced five types of coffee grounds, namely special arabica, super arabica, extra arabica, rajabica and robusta.