Have you had coffee today? Drinking coffee has already become a routine for Indonesian. With coffee shops building up in Indonesia, especially Jakarta, shows that the habit of drinking coffee these days isn’t only as a morning, before-work routine but coffee has also become a companion for every one, anytime of the day. Behind the delicious cup of coffee, lies struggle and sacrifice made by baristas to get the perfect coffee blend, wether its self-taught or attending school of coffee. You heard right, school of coffee! One in particular that we will be talking about today, the ABCD School of Coffee in Central of Jakarta which is located on Jalan RP. Soeroso No. 22, Cikini.
From Kiosk to Academy Starting as a small kiosk of only 6 by 2 meter in Santa Market, ABCD has been operating since 2012, not only as place where people get coffee, but a place where baristas and coffee lovers hung out. At the kiosk, Hendri Kurniawan and his partner Ve Handojo applied the “pay-as-you-like” system, where customers are welcome to freely pay in accordance with the taste of coffee they ordered. During that time, some of the beans at ABCD were free coffee that Hendri Kurniawan get at coffee competitions in various countries where he was a judge. Seeing people’s enthusiasm and looking at the speedy growth of coffee shops that time pushed Henri and his partner to open a school dedicated for coffee. They do not wish for these coffee shops developed just because of trends without any solid foundation of coffee knowledge.
Founded in 2014, ABCD School of Coffee aims in providing further knowledge about coffee in order to educate baristas who are not only is capable to compete at global level, but to also give birth to baristas with good enough skills to meet the fast growing coffee shops these days. ABCD, abbreviation of A Bunch of Coffee Dealers, with its relatively young age, becomes a magnet to coffee community and they open their door to anyone who wants to learn.
To carry out its mission, ABCD School offers 4 classes such as Class A (Appreciation Class) which provides basic knowledge about coffee, B (Brewing Class) which is learning about the process of manual brewing, C (Cupping Class) which focuses on how to assess coffee taste objectively according to the SCA protocol and D (Definitive Espresso Class) class, where students learn to make espresso and cappuccino. In the short future, armed with certificate from the SCA Campus and adequate facilities, ABCD School of Coffee will open Q Grader exam class in November. After 4 years of operation, ABCD School of Coffee has produced several reliable coffee shop owners and baristas such as Pigeon Hole, Fakhri Murad, and Isman. Muhammad Aga, Indonesia's representative at the 2018 World Barista Championship, has also taught at ABCD School.
Our conversation continue towards the development of coffee industry today. According to Willyanto, General Manager and Head Trainer at ABCD School, the development of the coffee industry is now far more advanced than it used to be. In the past, a lot of people was only looking for coffee with low acidity, their taste changed as people understand more about coffee and so the demand of market follows. The man from Kediri also emphasized that Indonesian coffee is currently on the rise, especially with the 2018 regional competition stating that it’s a must for brewers to use local coffee. This rule pushed brewers into searching for high quality beans in remote areas, interact with farmers, seeing firsthand the processing of coffee and giving Indonesian coffee more and more appreciation that they deserve. The presence of quality Indonesian coffee beans, it has become a conquest for roasters and traders. Willyanto’s interest in coffee started in 2008, which during his journey, he crossed path with Hendri Kurniawan which leads him into studying coffee and finally joined ABCD School in 2015 as Head Trainer.
Towards the end of our coffee talk, Willyanto provided us with tips for beginners who are interested in brewing their own coffee, “Before learning to brew coffee, you have to know how to drink coffee. Learn how to drink without sugar. Adding sugar will not tell you if the coffee is good or not. Even coffee of not so good quality will taste sweet if you put sugar, so try reducing the sugar at first.” he said.