(This article is the first of a weekly offering of light, breezy stories by Bernama’s foreign correspondents)
JAKARTA, Nov. 5 -- It is no exaggeration to say that Indonesians live to to drink coffee. And “Ngopi Yuk!” (let's have coffee) is a common expression for the occasion.
In short, drinking coffee has become a tradition and part of everyday life of Indonesian people that cannot be skipped.
According to Statista (a German company specialising in market and consumer data), Indonesia’s domestic coffee consumption has almost quadrupled since 1990, reaching the equivalent of 4.8 million 60-kilogram bags of coffee in 2019.
This growing demand is fueled by a younger generation switching over from tea to coffee, and a newfound appreciation for locally-produced coffee.
In major cities like Jakarta, Surabaya, Bandung, Palembang and Medan, numerous international coffee shop chains and cafes operate in office buildings and shopping malls.
But it’s the cities’ streets where one can observe the microcosm of the country’s coffee culture at its most authentic. Here, street vendors sell coffee candies and instant coffee to those who missed out on their morning coffee routines.
Most Indonesians prefer to drink black coffee with sugar. Besides plain coffee, people also serve coffee with herbs and spices.
In some areas of Sumatra such as the village community in West Sumatra, coffee leaves are used, where, when brewed with hot water, creates a subtle coffee flavour in a cup.
Indonesia is also famous for having a number of specialty coffees such as 'kopi luwak'. With prices ranging between Rp150,000 (RM45) to Rp1 million (RM300) a cup, kopi luwak is widely considered to be the most expensive coffee in the world.
It is brewed from coffee beans that have passed through the digestive system of the Asian palm civet (musang).
Due to this special fermentation process inside the animal (and due to the fact that the civet is able to select the juiciest coffee cherries), this coffee is believed to have a richer taste.
Its labour-intensive production process and scarcity on the international market causes its price to skyrocket.
Coffee first entered Indonesia through Batavia (now Jakarta) in 1696, when the Dutch colonials brought in Arabica coffee beans to plant and cultivate here – at the Cibodas National Park on the road to Puncak Bogor.
Today, Indonesia is the fourth largest coffee producer in the world after Brazil, Colombia and Vietnam.
According to data from the Indonesian Coffee Exporters Association (AEKI), Indonesia's coffee plantations cover a total area of approximately 1.24 million hectares, 933 hectares of robusta plantations, and 307 hectares of arabica plantations.
More than 90 per cent of total plantations are cultivated by small-scale growers who own relatively small plantations of about 2 hectares each.
Thus, coffee in Indonesia is not only a way of life, but an important commodity as well. It is Indonesia's fourth-largest foreign exchange earner after palm oil, rubber and cocoa.
Some studies have shown that coffee drinkers have a much lower risk of several serious diseases, improve energy levels, and can help people feel less tired.
So, "Ngopi Yuk!" and talk about a happy things, and stay safe.