I’m in search of a coffee boost and I’m on Jalan Sabang. I rub my eyes. But there is something very wrong: all the little roadside stalls - known here as kaki lima (meaning “five legs) - have gone! Disappeared. And nope they haven’t been dumped in the Java sea like the becak were in the 70s. And it ain’t Lebaran either – the holiday period after Ramadan when many of the city’s residents make their yearly pilgrimage back to their hometowns to spread the word that Jakarta’s pavements are not only NOT paved with gold but that - in many places - they are barely paved at all!
Nope, cos what’s happened is that many of the kaki lima have been relocated to a special area. But this suits me fine. As you can now actually walk along the pavements on Jalan Sabang without either having your way blocked or your shirt sleeves singed off by accidentally getting too close to a sate vendor’s inconsiderately placed street side barbeque.
Anyway, Kopotiam Oey is soon located and in we go.
Inside it’s pretty small but luckily one of the tables is empty.
The décor is tastefully done and combines elements of Chinese culture – such as the hanging lanterns – and the “good old colonial days” (even though they weren’t really, of course) as portrayed by the nostalgic advertising posters on the walls – although this particular one, I should say, was not one of them:
Giving your wife a “good spanking” if she buys the wrong coffee is no longer de rigueur behavior in these thankfully enlightened times - although caning is still carried out in Aceh.
There are plenty of good options on the coffee front and the great thing is they ain’t drowning in the creams, sugar, syrups and other junk that is typically loaded into your coffee at places like Starbucks and the other modern capitalist coffee outlets in Jakarta.
- Kopi Toebroek Djawa (Traditional Javanese Coffee) - which literally means “collision coffee” - has the consistency of mud as boiling water is simply poured straight into a cup filled with a couple of spoonfuls of ground coffee - and then drunk unfiltered after it’s brewed. Magic. Enjoy a caffeine rush that really kicks you in the b******s.
- Kopi saring atawa Kopi-O (Traditional filtered coffee)
- Kopi taloe Boekittinggi (Traditional West Sumatran coffee with beaten egg). Yep, it sounds weird but tastes great.
- Kopi soesoe Indotjina (Vietnamese drip coffee, with sweet condensed milk). One of my favorites this, and I love watching it brew (it’s a bit like having your own mini chemistry lab in front of you). Evokes an earlier age when the Americans were up to no good in this part of the world. And don’t you just love the smell of fresh
napalm coffee in the morning?
- Kopi hitam-kental Italia (Italian black coffee). Awesome.
- Cappucino. 10 years ago many Indonesians didn’t even know what a Cappucino was. Now it’s a daily necessity.
- Wiener Melange (coffee topped with vanilla ice cream). Yeah, I know I said I didn’t like calorie packed drinks but there’s an exception to every rule. This is it.
Besides the coffees there is a fine selection of teas as well.
And the food ain’t half bad either.
Jl H Agus Salim 18, Central Jakarta. 10340
Tel: + 62 21 392 4475