By Francis Chan
Indonesia Bureau Chief In Jakarta
Indonesia exported about $1.38 billion worth of coffee last year, but there still seems to be enough java to go round for people in the country who fancy a cuppa.
According to the International Coffee Organization, an inter-governmental grouping of almost all (98 per cent) countries trading in the commodity, Indonesia ranks second, only behind Brazil – the world’s biggest coffee exporter – in terms of coffee consumption.
That probably explains why the global “third wave” coffee movement to produce high-quality and artisanal coffee has caught on strongly in the country, which has not only attracted international coffee franchises such as the likes of Starbucks, but also led to an emergence of many indie coffee joints.
The combination of newer hipster cafes and traditional coffee players in Jakarta means coffee drinkers have never been short on choice, especially when craving a cup of an Indonesian brew known for its full-bodied, rich taste, earthy notes and gentle acidity.
These are 10 coffee joints worth visiting in J-Town.
1. Trafique Coffee
Trafique Coffee offers a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of south Jakarta. Located in a large, white-brick house close to the famous Senayan malls, the cafe has become a favourite among those looking for good coffee and a quiet place to work.
The high ceilings and eclectic furniture are accompanied by lush greenery in the backyard. The atmosphere is comforting – almost like visiting an old friend’s house.
Trafique Coffee roasts and grinds its coffee beans.
It recommends three unique concoctions: Ugly Nutella (a rare combination of coffee and everyone’s favourite hazelnut spread), Almond Creme Brulee (almond-flavoured coffee with irresistible caramelised sugar on top – like an actual creme brulee dessert) and Oreo Trappucino (coffee blended with Oreos).
2. One Fifteenth Coffee
One Fifteenth Coffee is a fuss-free establishment that places its focus on one thing - coffee.
One of the first to offer speciality coffee in Jakarta, One Fifteenth Coffee celebrates its fifth year in June, with a total of three outlets in Jakarta (Gandaria ad the new domestic airport's Terminal 3 departure hall) and Bali.
This joint gets its moniker from the well-known coffee-to-water ratio of 1:15 to yield an ideal cup of joe that releases the most flavour from the coffee bean. The good guys at One Fifteenth recommend the Rojali, a cold-brew blend combined with sparkling water, lime juice and ice. The addition of citrus gives this drink a refreshing pop of flavour.
Tanamera coffee joints are easy to spot, with their use of an iconic black-and-red colour scheme for both the interior and exterior of their outlets. The baristas are friendly and their outlets cosy, making Tanamera an inviting nook for brunch or a coffee break.
Fans of Tanamera suggest ordering its Cold White Coffee, made with Indonesian beans from Flores, Aceh and Toraja that are processed into an espresso blend, combined with milk and served in a bottle.
Another favourite is the black daily brew coffee made with the Kalita Wave coffee dripper. Whichever you choose, pair your cuppa with its Banana Caramel cake – think banana, caramel, chocolate and nut chunks all packed in one generous slice of heaven.
Crematology stands out among the numerous cafes in the Senopati area for its unique Scandinavian feel.
Inspired by one of its owners’ Swedish origins, Crematology is decorated with pine and oak furniture in clean modern lines, reindeer antlers and pelts.
The coffee shop boasts four combinations of Indonesian coffee beans sourced from across the country, named Crema 1, 2, 3 and 4.
Try its latte or mocha, both of which use beans called Crema 2, made up of 90 per cent Arabica beans sourced from Bone in South Sulawesi and 10 per cent Robusta beans from Dampit in East Java.
5. Bakoel Koffie
A visit to Bakoel Koffie is like going back in time to Dutch colonial Jakarta. Open since 1878, it is one of the oldest coffee shops in town.
Images of life in the 1800s adorn the walls, evoking an old-world charm that has become increasingly rare in this city of skyscrapers and shiny new malls.
At Bakoel Koffie, try the Mochamo, a four-layer hot mocha drink made up of chocolate, milk, coffee and whipped cream with chocolate on top. Calories be damned, this warm, creamy concoction is worth every one.
Another classic is its signature Javamud, an ice blended drink that mixes coffee with milk and oreo cookies. Can anyone say “yum”?
6. Koultoura Coffee
Koultoura Coffee embraces kooky wholly and unabashedly, giving visitors the sense that they might just have entered Alice’s Wonderland.
Four animals – a rabbit, a bear, a fox and an owl – are the mascots of this coffee house, with “portraits” of each of them living as humans do (think playing a guitar or having a picnic) covering the walls.
If you have a sweet tooth, give the iced White Fluffy Latte a shot. Topped with vanilla ice cream and caramel, it is both a drink and a dessert and is guaranteed to put a smile on your face.
For the health conscious, try the hot Manuka Honey Latte for a hint of floral sweetness.
7. Ruang Seduh
Tucked behind novelty purveyor Aksara bookstore is coffee shop Ruang Seduh, which means “brewing room” in Bahasa Indonesia.
This cafe in the charming neighbourhood of Kemang is set up as a communal brewing space where customers can try brewing and making their own jitter juice.
Space within Ruang Seduh is limited, but javaheads can also rest their legs in the vintage-styled microcinema called Kinosaurus next door, when no movie is being screened.
This house makes a strong cappuccino, using Tropic Lasuna beans from North Sumatra.
8. ST. ALi
Hailing from Down Under, ST. ALi is the coffee shop’s first foray beyond the cafe city of Melbourne and a collaboration with local roasters Common Grounds.
Located in the vibrant Setiabudi area, this coffee house is an institution for good mojo, with beans sourced from far-flung locations such as Colombia and Brazil. Dine in or take out, the jet fuel served here will not disappoint.
Its decidedly Melbournian menu of brunch items is not to be missed either. The Green Hummus Bowl delights, coating crunchy carrots, broccoli and asparagus with a comforting garbanzo bean and spinach hummus.
Or treat yourself to its Fried Chicken Basket served with spicy mayonnaise.
9. Cafe Batavia
A visit to Jakarta would not be complete without a stop at the historic Cafe Batavia, a 200-year-old landmark that bookends Fatahillah Square in Jakarta Old Town.
Formerly a Dutch government administration building, the cafe has become a gallery in its own right, with framed photographs covering every wall and pillar – even in the toilets.
Sit by the windows that overlook the square and people-watch as locals and tourists alike zig-zag on bright pink bicycles on weekends.
Add to your list of Instagram-worthy moments by trying its Kopi Luwak, or civet coffee, one of the most expensive coffees in the world.
One of the newest entrants to the artisanal coffee scene is Maarkeze, located within Central Department Store at Grand Indonesia mall.
The location might seem a little awkward, but the offshoot of fan favourite Ombe Kofie in Pluit, North Jakarta, quickly wins you over with its solid java offerings.
Maarkeze, adapted from the Bahasa Indonesian word “markas”, or headquarters, offers a wide variety of drinks, from espresso to lungo and regular white to Panama Geisha white.
If you are feeling science-y, order the Nitro Cold Brew, infused with nitrogen to produce a smooth, balanced coffee that goes easy on the acid. The Maarkeze folks say this is available only at their shop, and it has become popular with women.