Want Some Coffee?

I am a great lover of coffee and have drank just about every type available in the archipelago, and of course, my favourite being Arabica. Gastronome and epicurean el supremo Suryatini N. Ganie explains further about the coffee scene in Indonesia:

My mother, for whom tea was the only brew, often remarked that coffee would make one sedikit bodoh, a bit stupid.

That made me avoid coffee before one day I had to like it, because my would-be father-in-law liked kopi susu (coffee brewed with milk), drinking three or four cups a day.

“Drink coffee,” he said, “it will make you energetic.” And for future family’s sake I began to drink coffee, and when living in countries where drinking coffee is part of the culture, I collected recipes or made sweets out of coffee, and coffee began to be interesting, indeed.

Just take the name. In Indonesia kopi tubruk (clashing coffee) is our main coffee brew. The Dutch have koffie verkeerd, or coffee in an ratio of approximately 1/4 coffee liquid in a coffeepot in the left hand and 3/4 milk in the right hand poured simultaneously into the cup.

Koffie verkeerd is served to the elderly or to those drinking it for health reasons by adding more milk than coffee. Going further south in Europe, Italians are proud of their espresso and cappuccino, and the French have their cafe au lait for breakfast.

Very interesting is qahwat, as people in the Gulf states say. In a mini cup one will be served a spiced, strong and piping hot coffee. The spicing of the coffee is interesting. For eight servings one needs six cardamomen, pound until broken, 250 ml cold water and 60 g newly ground coffee.

Let water, cardamomen and coffee come to the boil and continue for 20 minutes, then sieve and serve as hot as possible. It is mostly enjoyed without sugar. Another variation is the quisir from Yemen which is sometimes made with instant coffee, ginger and sometimes with some sugar.

But the coffee bean is also a history maker. Frederick the Great from Prussia, who reigned from 1740-1786, strictly forbade common people from drinking coffee, regarding it as too expensive because his majesty himself ordered coffee be brewed with champagne, whereas Pope Clement in the 17th century allowed those of the non-Muslim faith to drink coffee.

It was not very much accepted by the people because then many cafes sprung up and became not only places to enjoy coffee, but attracted men to come and enter into heated discussions about politics and lifestyle.

One of the famous caf‚s in 16th century France was Caf‚ Procope, and in Vienna Franz Georg Kolschitzky was known as one of the first to open a caf‚.

Coffee was or is also a source of inspiration for composers or writers, including the renowned Arab writer Sheikh Abd-Al-Kaldu.
Focus on coffee itself. Which variety makes people crave coffee? There are many, but the most famous is arabika, named after its assumed place of origin.

Another famous variety of coffee is Bourbon Santos from Brazil. It has a fine aroma and moderate sourness. Colombia’s coffee has also gained a favorable place in coffee culture.

The arabika from Sumatra is, according to experts, the best Indonesian variety and is best when drunk black. Robusta from Indonesia is also of good quality. So is Toraja coffee from South Sulawesi’s highlands, which is now very popular in Indonesia.

There are about three methods of preparing coffee beans in Indonesia — kopi bakar, which is roasted without oil or fried with some oil; kopi bubuk or ground coffee, and kopi ekstrak or extracted coffee liquid.

Special varieties of regional coffee in Indonesia are also still popular. They are mixed with either fried or roasted corn kernels or roasted raw rice.

And to obtain a special flavor ripe nangka or jackfruit is sometimes mixed with the coffee before brewing. In West Sumatra a kind of beverage is brewed from the young and tender leaves of the coffee plant and is then called kahwa (Siswoputranto, 1978).

Suryatini N. Ganie