Let There Be No Sugar between Where We Are
Phone : 0813 8278 4240
Updated on 24 September 2018
5 pm - 10 pm
Light rain poured over the city of Jogja when we went through the neighborhood of Jalan Kaliurang in that particular afternoon. Tens of motor vehicles moved slowly on wet asphalt road-the drivers were exhausted and tried hard to reach home before night. Cold drips of rainwater permeated through our raincoats, getting our clothes wet into the innermost layer. Still, this didn't stop YOGYES team's curiosity about Klinik Kopi, a unique coffee shop that has lately been a hot topic among Jogja's coffee lovers.
It's rather hard to find Klinik Kopi. It was located not very far into the neighborhood and was near the main road, but there were no road signs indicating its location. A tightly-arranged bamboo fence served as the sign of entrance to the coffee shop. We walked on a stone path through a mini vegetable garden in the front yard, heading to a semi-permanent building made of bamboo and bricks built somewhere rather hidden in the back part of the area. A large porch with colorful classic tiles greeted us, right next to a fish pond and a refreshing mint garden. On the other side, a room with simple industrial style looked attractive with various coffee processing tools inside. No tables and chairs were available like in most coffee shops-only a considerably large lesehan seating area on the front porch.
"Monggo (Jv. 'please'), come in, bro," one of the brewers in the room greeted us. Sporting a distinct grey bowler hat, he reached out his hands and shook ours. "I'm Pepeng. Where do you come from?"
After explaining the intent and purpose that YogYES assigned to our team, Pepeng immediately told us to sit in front of his neatly-arranged brewer table. Not many chairs were available-only enough for few people. A number of glass jars containing roasted beans were lined before us, complete with labels bearing unique names like Sunda Jahe, Ratamba, Aie Dingin, Nagari Lasi, and Sunda Geisha. In front of each jar, you'll see several log cards containing unique image and brief description of the origin and characteristic of the corresponding bean. Two automatic grinders were also visible on the other end of the table, with a sign that read "Sorry, we don't have cappuccino!". There's no menu, so we're rather unsure about what to order.
"What kind of coffee would you like, please?" Pepeng asked while preparing his brewer table. "You like it sour or bitter? We don't have many for the bitter type, though." The shop doesn't provide any menu list indeed, but they will explain the characteristics of each coffee it offered. The brewer will ask about the characteristics of coffee we might like while also providing us with advices on the type of beans we might want to order. The brewer room can only accommodate few people, so other customers would have to wait in the lesehan area until they're called in. At a glance, this is what makes Klinik Kopi looks exactly like a health clinic where we would have to queue for examination in the physician's room. It's understandable if Klinik Kopi refers to its customers as "patients".
Upon receiving explanation on the taste of individual coffee, we decided to order a cup of Ratamba and Sunda Jahe brewed using pour over technique. Few minutes later, two cups of coffee were served, both with sweet aroma. Unlike common coffee, the color of the coffee was a shade of clear brown, almost like black tea. The strange thing was that we couldn't find any sugar packs like commonly provided in other coffee shops.
"We don't have sugar here," Pepeng's assistant explained while pointing to empty sugar packs with letterings that read (in Indonesian) "let there be no sugar between where we are" posted on the corner of the brewer table. "Don't you worry, bro, it won't taste too bitter-it'll even taste sweet."
Curious, I immediately tried the two cups we've ordered. Sunda Jahe produced a sweeter aroma than Ratamba, encouraging me to try it first. Once sipped, thin sour taste dominated my tongue. There's almost no bitterness, making it a good option for beginners, even without the addition of sugar.
Unlike Sunda Jahe, Ratamba tasted more bitter with a strong after-taste that stuck on the upper part of the throat. The bitterness gradually vanished as the coffee's temperature lowered, replaced by a strong sourness. The kicking taste made me want to sip it over and over again until I finished the whole cup.
Done with the tasting, Pepeng invited YogYES team to the roasting room in the back. It turned out that every customer would not only be invited to taste the provide coffee but also be served with stories about Indonesian coffee types. We sat beside the roasting machine that kept producing sweet aroma while listening to Pepeng telling the story about his little shop.
"Back then, I worked as an office staff, but I also liked traveling. During every travel, I would buy coffee as gift," Pepeng told us while working on his machine. "That's the reason I began establishing Klinik Kopi."
According to Pepeng, Klinik Kopi was launched in 2013. Back then, the coffee shop was located around Jalan Gejayan, only some hundred meters from Condongcatur Bus Station. In autodidactic manners, he learned how to process coffee from one source to another. The brewing methods he chose is also relatively easier and more affordable for anyone to apply. This is in line with his belief that coffee belongs to everyone and that everyone can make and enjoy it.
"I want to promote the true coffee, bro. Until now, most people think that coffee is identic to being bitter in taste. In fact, coffee is not always bitter; with correct processing, it can taste sweet even without sugar."
To dismiss such perception of coffee being bitter in taste, Klinik Kopi focuses in light roasted Arabica beans. That means that the bean roasting is performed in only a short duration, resulting in the beans not being overcooked, which will produce less bitter taste. Most coffee shops and cafes despise light roasted beans for their rough structure, which poses a risk of causing damage to the grinder. With correct brewing method, light roasted beans can, in fact, produce varied tastes-from sweet, sour, etc.
Besides educating the customers, Pepeng also provides trainings for coffee farmers in different regions in Indonesia. To do so, Pepeng voluntarily travels even to faraway villages in Sumatra and Papua. He trains the local farmers there on correct processing stages, from picking, washing, drying, to processing into green beans. Processed beans result in better taste quality and price, making it more profitable for farmers. In addition, Pepeng also purchases green beans directly from these farmers to process and sold at Klinik Kopi.
Currently, Pepeng has been assisting about 6 farmer groups cultivating 30 bean varieties. Pepeng embeds unique names to the beans according to their origins, farmer identity, and characteristics of taste, such as Sunda Geisha, Sunda Jahe, Aie Dingin, Yellow Catura, and many more. Not all of these roasted bean varieties are available every time at the clinic as the beans are served according to their availability.
"So far, the favorite beans are Yellow Catura and Bu Nur Honey Process, both with unique taste," Pepeng explained. "Bu Nur tastes very sweet while Yellow Catura is the richest and most fruity in taste."
Pepeng's hard work results in the popularity that Klinik Kopi has gained among Jogja's coffee lovers. Aside from coffee maniacs, common people are often seen visiting his clinic to have a try of the coffee and take pictures in the Instagrammable coffee shop. Designed with bamboo as the material, the clinic indeed appears unique, making it comfortable for anyone to stay quite a while and chit-chatting with other customers. A number of well-known celebrities like Mira Lesmana, Rio Dewanto, Nicholas Saputra, and Dian Sastro were also among the list of the clinic's customers. Klinik Kopi has once even been used as a shooting location for movie and TV program like Ada Apa Dengan Cinta 2 and Viva Barista.
"That makes no difference to me; all customers are the same. They all want to taste true coffee," Pepeng said while pouring freshly-roasted beans.
Pepeng also told us that Klinik Kopi is open for everyone, even for "newbie" coffee fans. Pepeng will gratefully describe the characteristics of the right and enjoyable taste for those who are not a real avid fan of coffee. In addition, unlike instant coffee commonly consumed by Indonesians, fresh coffee is also relatively safer for those with sensitive stomach.
"The thing is, don't be afraid of drinking coffee. Try appreciating the coffee we drink, get to know the farmers, and where it comes from. That way, we'll be able to pay better appreciation to Indonesian coffee," Pepeng conclude our interview that afternoon.
So, still afraid of drinking coffee without sugar?
Text Panji Gusti Akbar
Translation WIDIANA MARTININGSIH
Copyright © 2016 YogYES.COM
How to get there:
From Tugu Jogja - head to Jalan AM Sangaji - straight ahead to Jalan Monjali - turn right at Monjali intersection to the North Ring Road - turn left at Kentungan intersection to Jalan Kaliurang - go straight to PLN Station on Jalan Kaliurang Km 8 - turn right at the alley north of PLN Station into Gang Madukoro - Klinik Kopi is on the left side of the road.