KEDAI KOPI MENOREH PAK ROHMAT
Mocca Robusta Coffee a la Yogyakarta's Limestone Hill
Updated on 6/9/2018
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Rain fell hard that noon, showering the uphill road through the limestone hills of Menoreh, through which YogYES team went. A shade of soft mist was formed between the cliff and the steep abyss on the two sides of the road, hidden behind the shade of green leaves waking up from a long sleep during the dry season. The touching view gave cure to the fatigue we felt after walking up a steep track which, though being challenging, provided us with a feeling of satisfaction once we're through. After few minutes, we arrived at our destination. A humble house on one edge of a shallow abyss between two steep limestone hills has been waiting for us. This is Kedai Kopi Menoreh Pak Rohmat, a remote coffee shop that now starts to gain popularity among Yogyakarta's caffeine addicts.
"Monggo, Mas. You can put your helmets inside," said Pak Rohmat, a mid-age man who welcomed us at the front yard of the house. His smile and gesture was so friendly, reflecting the warmth of rural folks.
We followed his steps to the back of his house, a house not so large. Unpredictably, our eyes were then greeted by the view of a secret green garden, hidden from the main road that leads to the hill. A simple gazebo was seen on one corner of the garden, built from bamboo and straws, charming in appearance. Several lines of wooden tables and chairs were inside the gazebo, creating a warm impression under the tungsten lamps lighting from above them. We decided to sit on one of the big tables inside the hut, while trying to keep our bodies warm after being hit by the rain during our trip.
While sipping the cups of coffee we've ordered, we decided to just enjoy the fresh rural breeze. We've just then realized that the gazebo we're sitting in was facing to a not-so-deep valley, full of green plants and covered by thin mist. A small river was seen on the bottom of the valley, hidden between the shady trees covering it from our sight. The air surrounding the coffee shop felt so fresh with the wind, mixed with a hint of the distinct aroma of coffee leaves from the coffee plantation surrounding the coffee shop. The sound of the falling rain continued as if refusing to stop, mixed with the sad song of the crickets and an owl from God-knows-where. The orchestra of nature got even more lively as dusk went on, when we saw a number of fireflies suddenly appearing and flying around from nearby bushes. This was really an exoticism we could rarely see in the city, taking and drowning us in our own sea of imagination.
Our daydreaming was suddenly interrupted when Pak Rohmat returned to us, this time bringing 3 large trays of foods. On the trays, there have been various snacks such as boiled peanut, boiled cassava, tahu isi (fried tofu filled with vegetable cuts), and geblek-a distinct snack of Kulon Progo. Also, there were several small glasses of brown sugar cubes, sugar, liquefied brown sugar, and-of course-strong black coffee with its distinctive aroma. All of these snacks were served in an attractive way on wooden trays, teasing us to capture them with our cameras. Still, I was a bit confused; if I'm not mistaken, we'd ordered only coffee, so why were we suddenly served with these abundant snacks?
"This is one package, Mas. All order of coffee includes these snacks," Pak Rohmat explained as I questioned him.
We ordered for 2 types of coffee-arabica and robusta, both were from Pak Rohmat's coffee plantation, located around the coffee shop. As what Pak Rohmat explained, he did not use any brewing machines as commonly used in cafes. The coffee at this coffee shop is brewed by boiling it with hot boiling water-commonly known as Turkish brew. It is said that the method results in coffee with stronger taste and body. Pak Rohmat also told us that the method is one that has been used by the local people, and has been passed on from generation to generation. He admitted to have no desire in buying other brewing machines, so that he could maintain the "humble" impression the coffee shop has.
While talking with Pak Rohmat, I had a sip of the two types of coffees served. Both of the arabica and robusta coffee served produced a sheer, not too strong aroma. The coffee was a bit thick with a considerable amount of crema (foam), indicating the freshness of the coffee beans, which have been stored for not too long. Once sipped, arabica coffee produces a soft and somewhat watery taste, but with no acidic taste commonly found in this type of coffee. Pak Rohmat also admitted that the arabica coffee in his plantation were a bit less in quality, probably due to the lack of altitude which is less effective to support the growth of Coffea arabica.
"However, robusta coffee is better. Most of the trees in my plantation are robusta," said Pak Rohmat while offering a cup of another coffee before us.
What Pak Rohmat claimed wasn't a lie; it was proven by the stronger taste of Coffea robusta we took a sip of. It tasted stronger with a bit of not-so-stinging bitterness. If we were observant, we would also be able to taste a hint of chocolate in the coffee, making it almost like mocca. Don't get me wrong, no chocolate powder was added to the coffee brew; the sheer taste of mocca indeed appeared as part of the characteristic of the coffee beans. This is what makes Pak Rohmat's robusta coffee fits in the tongue of beginner coffee drinkers, particularly if enjoyed with geblek with liquefied brown sugar served on the tray.
While sipping coffee and enjoying boiled peanuts, we listened to Pak Rohmat telling the story of his coffee shop, which now starts to gain popularity. According to Pak Rohmat, he initiated his coffee business since 2010, when he was a construction labor. He offered the coffee beans he processed by his hands to his coworkers, and it turned out that many of them loved the coffee. From then on, he gained broader connections which eventually led to his coffee gaining popularity. There have also been several cafes and hotels in Yogyakarta who ordered his coffee. The coffee shop he opened was only a year of age, established as a colleague was suggesting that he start a coffee shop, seeing that the region he was living in offers a considerably promising tourism potential.
"From then on, people started coming and going, from common people, big-capacity motorcycle touring groups, foreign journalists, and so on. Sometimes there are hundreds of customers coming."
Pak Rohmat also said that the coffee he processed is not produced carelessly; it refers to the principles of traditional methods of the ancestors. While most farmers would directly process all ripe coffee beans, Pak Rohmat only processes quality, undamaged coffee beans. Beans are separated from the fruit and processed into green beans by wet hulling, a traditional method widely used by Indonesian coffee farmers. The green beans are then fried with no oil, using traditional utensils-earthenware frying pan and simple traditional cooking stove. The fried beans are then milled and processed into a cup of coffee for us to enjoy.
After enjoying the coffee, we can walk around the coffee plantation while enjoying the beautiful view. Also, we can visit a waterfall on the bottom of the valley and feel the fresh village water. As for you with stronger curiosity about coffee, Pak Rohmat is more than happy to guide his customers around his plantation and explain the process of making coffee. Customers can also take part in the process of making coffee, from planting the tree, harvesting and processing the beans, to brewing coffee. Too bad, that noon, rain wouldn't stop, holding us back from walking around Menoreh Coffee Plantation around Pak Rohmat's house.
Besides processed coffee, Pak Rohmat's coffee shop also offers various foods of Menoreh's traditional menu, such as rica-rica menthok, steamed chicken, and many others. The coffee shop also offers coffee powder and roasted bean we can buy as gifts. However, please know that such packed coffee is limited in numbers, as Pak Rohmat limits the stock of fried coffee beans. This is to preserve the level of freshness and quality of the coffee, so that customers won't feel disappointed when brewing and enjoying them at home.
"If you want to buy coffee beans in large amount, I suggest that you preorder in advance, at least a day ahead. This particularly applies to arabica coffee as the stock is only limited," Pak Rohmat explained.
Our talk that noon went on so lively till the sky darkened. As the clock pointed to eight, we decided to conclude our visit and go back home to Jogja. We returned via the steep path down Menoreh Hills, taking with us new knowledge of the world of coffee in Indonesia, along with a pack of coffee powder to enjoy once we're back home.
Text PANJI G. AKBAR Photography JAYA TRI HARTONO Translation WIDIANA MARTININGSIH
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Photo Gallery of Kedai Kopi Menoreh Pak Rohmat
Satu Paket Kopi Menoreh Ayam Kukus Menoreh Gazebo Asyik Dengan Pemandangan Lembah Kopi Menoreh Siap Seduh Taman Rahasia di Kedai Kopi Menoreh Buah Kopi yang Baru Muncul Pak Rohmat dan Kedai Kopi Menoreh Paket Kopi Menoreh Pak Rohmat
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