Koffie Mantep Harganya Djoedjoer (Great Coffee, Honest Price): Kopitiam Oey Jakarta
Published 06 January 2011
By Erza S.T.
It was Saturday and I was thinking to explore Sabang Road in Jakarta which is famous for its street dishes like nasi gila (crazy rice – spicy fried rice with sausage), sate Padang (Padang satay) and a whole gastronomic slew of choices. After a while I actually got a headache with the whole situation. It’s just too much… I continued walking to almost the end of Sabang Road and by accident found a cute vintage coffee shop called Kopitiam Oey.
I wondered what it was. It looked like a kopitiam look-alike from Singapore or Malaysia. I passed by the satay guy at the front terrace and opened the glass door. Gosh! Going inside Kopitiam Oey is like going into a time portal where you suddenly arrive in colonial Jakarta: nice antique wooden chairs and marble table replicas with high ceilings and product sign boards from that era domicile this not so big place. It is so vintage and exactly what I was in the mood for.
Furthermore I discovered that this unique little coffee shop is owned by Indonesia’s famous gourmand, Mr. Bondan Winarno. He is known for saying “Maknyus” (“yummy” in English) every time he finds delicious food on his TV show. So I took out my purple moleskin notebook and started investigating Pak Bondan on the story of his coffee shop.
“I wasn’t ever interested in having my own restaurant as I am afraid to be stuck with only one,” he says. “Also, people would have high expectations if I opened one. I don’t have a culinary background and I’ve never opened any restaurant before. However, it’s different with this kopitiam. I always go to those kopitiam stores in Singapore like Kilini. The coffee is fantastic and the food is simple, but very good.”
“When I see the success of Starbucks, I am shocked to understand that people actually spend so much money for coffee. Indonesia is a coffee exporter but the coffee drinking tradition is not that big in Indonesia,” he remarks. “That is why I thought I’d make a coffee shop with cheap prices and a good ambiance. I use the traditional filtering method of making coffee and 25 grams of coffee more in each cup—more than what people usually use. I realized that the coffee habit here is not originally from Indonesia but from around the region (i.e. Singapore and Malaysia) and that is why I use the word kopitiam in the name. I added the Chinese name of Oey – a direct translation from my last name Winarno and it wound up becoming Kopitiam Oey.”
“Though it is quite obvious from the name and concept that it is a coffee shop, there are still lots of people who actually ask Pak Bondan to add more food onto the menu. The challenge is to educate the customer,” he says.
The original phrase was ‘coffee tien’ which through slang became kopitiam. It actually means a house that only sells coffee and traditional cakes. However, there is usually lots of food sellers in front of coffee tien selling local traditional food.
Pak Bondan also serves some signature Indonesian dishes. Highlights like Gado Gado Bonbin, which has been around since 1960, Lontong Tjapgomeh Bonbin, Sate Ayam Ponorogo, Mi Kepiting and Roti Bakar Panini have become instant hits amongst Pak Bondan’s new loyal customers. Word of mouth has really made this place full day and night.
However, the catch is not only the good food, coffee or ambiance but it is also the price! In Kopitiam Oey all the pricing is very economical. They start from IDR 6K for the Tjap Botol Sosro (hot tea) up to IDR 26K for food. Kopitiam also follows the trend of many other places by having a fast WiFi connection.
With Wieteke Van Dort’s lovely singing in the background, my Saturday was suddenly perfect for finding such a little gem like this.
Jl. Haji Agus Salim 18
Jakarta Pusat 10340
Tel: +62 21 392 4475