Coffee, Coffee, Coffee

As I was browsing around, I rediscovered that Indonesia is the fourth largest coffee-producing country along with Brazil, Colombia, Vietnam and India. This is due to our equatorial position which is ideal to produce the little dudes (coffee beans) which made me nod my head with a winning “Yeah, that’s right.” expression on my face. Therefore there are lots of big chain coffee houses or charming local ones that are sprouting around big cities like Jakarta, Bandung, Surabaya and Bali. Coffee drinking ahas become a culture, where the elderly, close friends, university students, business tycoons, whoever you might be can enjoy a warm cup along with a good conversation. As a result, you would hear a lot of “ngopi, yuk” where ngopi is a short verb of “let’s have coffee” and “yuk” meaning “come on!”, spoken by a lot of people. However, some cafes have taken the enthusiasm of manual brewing which I’ve been recently interested in and is lovingly applied in a coffee shop somewhere here in my hometown, Bogor.

I was about with my Mum where we stopped at a food kiosk to have an afternoon snack and next to it was another shop with a big red sign with white letters that said “Rumah (House) Kopi (Coffee) Ranin”. Mum said that she passed the coffeeshop a couple of times but was never particularly aware of the hype, until we went inside. Upon my first step in that shop, I was greeted by the aroma of rich, rich, coffee. Okay, so I researched a little bit and Ranin is an abbreviation of Rakyat Tani Indonesia, which is loosely translated to The Farmer Citizens of Indonesia. Why? Because the chalkboard menu is an array of the best types of coffee beans that Indonesia has to offer.

  1. Linthong (North Sumatra)
  2. Mandheling
  3. Gayo (Aceh)
  4. Kintamani (Bali)
  5. Java Preanger
  6. Women Papua
  7. Toraja
  8. Bajawa Flores
  9. Luwak Mandheling
  10. Gunung Pancar (Bogor)

That is such an impressive list and made me so delighted that we have so much to be proud of. Out of the many different types, there are also the different techniques of manual brewing, according to your preference. Here are some. There is the tubruk which simply includes pouring hot water over a cup of loose coffee grinds, and then letting them settle to the bottom. Following that, there is the french press where you use a plunger to that will separate your coffee from the grounds itself. Pour over stands for using filter paper  – it’s also called a V60 because of the funnel that the paper forms into which are exactly 60 degrees. The V60 is perfect for women who sometimes stigmatizes coffee with being too bitter, as V60 brewing requires slightly rough coffee grinds so that the coffee itself will not be too heavy. It’s good to try with more of a milder coffee like Bajawa Flores without the strong acidity. Now the syphon filter is a brilliant example of manual brewing because acts like a vacuum where vacuum and vapour pressure can produce coffee. There are two glass vessels on the top and bottom. The bottom one is filled with hot water whereas filter paper that contains coffee grinds are placed upon a filter paper. When the water boils due to the fire heater in the bottom, the air will extract the coffee. The most interesting part of this is when the fire is turned off, the coffee on the top water vessel will flow down through the filter paper, resulting in a lighter body coffee without too much acidity. As you can see, there is quite the art to manual brewing and it’s almost like watching a science experiment unfolding.

So we met one of the founders, Mr. Tejo Pramono, an IPB graduate (Bogor Agricultural Institute) where he along with his college mate Uji Saptu and wife Jessica decided to house what the farmers of our country yield everyday, to bring us closer to them, since 2012. From the way he  shook is head and closed his eyes when describing a vietnam drip technique, he really knows his coffee. He and my Mum chatted away for a while about coffee and antique furnitures while I looked around the area; flavour chart on the wall, used coffee cups from previous drinkers and an old-school bean grinding machine, it just feels so genuine. There are only two floors to the cafe and while downstairs is quieter, there were faint chatters of young people upstairs and I could tell that they weren’t about to leave so soon as one guy headed down to order another black Toraja. 

It was such a refreshing little stop because I was so accustomed to the chilled yet fast-paced atmosphere of a hit chain coffee house that I forgot a much more simpler yet fulfilling experience of drinking coffee. In addition to that, I get to truly appreciate the amazing variety of coffee from different parts of our archipelago. I find that so important even though it’s once again, so simple. Mr. Tejo said that every Saturday, there are what you can call coffee classes which I think should be more and more introduced. I could see that there is great determination to not only talk about how Indonesian coffee is highly exported, but how it can be just as loved by domestic consumers. Therefore, through this reconnection of consumer and farmers we are able to enforce sustainable livelihood as the alienation between them can be an acute problem in the contemporary world. Sometimes we love our green tea frapuccino too much that we really do ignore the hard work that lies beneath the deliciousness we experience. This hits me quite hard because I realized how much of a stranger I am to local coffee when I looked at the menu, and I think that I want to make an effort to turn things around in that area.

Finally, although the best of Indonesia’s coffee is absorbed nearly 90 percent by large overseas companies, I tip my hat to Ranin Coffee House with its efforts to make our best quality coffees to be stars in the country.

Rumah Kopi Ranin

 Jl.  Ahmad Sobana No. 22A