Baristas Off Duty

On Taking a Pause and Indonesian Coffee.

Associating coffee with Indonesia is nothing new, but what about the first Indonesians at the Milan World Coffee Championship. Meet Restu Sadam Hasan (R) and Shayla Philipa (S) of Hungry Bird Coffee and Roastery, who proudly represented Indonesia in this international coffee championship in Italy earlier last June. Restu came up in top 20 in the latte art competition, while Shay came up in the big three as the third champion in Good Spirit championship!

Would you tell us how you grew up, what’s your background?

S: I grew up in Jakarta and studied graphic design. But to be honest I didn’t finish high school or college. Maybe sitting in class was just a weird thing for me.

R: I’m from Sukabumi, but I grew up in many places, including Jakarta, Wonosobo, and Bandung. Now, I’ve been a barista at Hungry Bird for 8 years – though it feels like I just started yesterday.

How did you get into this barista world?

S: Oh gosh I was only 17 when I got into coffee! My college was right behind a coffee shop that I visited in the morning before class. Then, they put an ad out for part time and full-time staff, so I thought I’d give it a shot. So I took the part-time chance and did a shift in the morning, followed by a class in the afternoon – and the other way around.

R: It was a long way for me. I actually started as a cook helper at Meeting Point in Bandung. But as I was working there, I often hung out with the barista and I figured out that you could draw on coffee with milk. I never knew that before – and I loved drawing since I was a kid, just like doodling. Three months after, my boss offered me a position as a barista. It was a dream come true!

Indonesia’s diverse landscape allows us to have so many varieties of coffee beans. Which one is your favorite?

R: West Java, Wanoja avisani, and Java Puntang Natural. I love the combination of the fruity and floral mixture in Wanoja Avisani, added with its caramel flavor and its round body. People who don’t like coffee could fall in love with this coffee easily!

S: It’s so funny because one of my favorite Indonesian coffee(s) I’ve tasted was in a coffee shop in Antwerp, Belgium. It was a Kerinci wet-hull! We’ve even worked with the farmer before for a different processed coffee.




Yeah, so with this abundance of varieties, why do you
think it’s still hard for Indonesian coffee beans to break
into the global coffee industry – unlike Brazil
and Vietnam?

S: Yes, this is true. Unfortunately sometimes the local
coffee we buy is still more expensive and the quality is still inconsistent compared to the cheaper imported coffee. But each country has different ways to process their own
conflicts, dynamics, and ancestral knowledge. For Indonesia,
we’re still lacking the efficiency to process the coffee due to
many things – and a few that we could name are the past knowledge and traditional ways of processing coffee and
lack of technology. This is why we still can’t export the same amount of quantity like Brazil, Colombia, and Ethiopia.

R: This is a complicated issue. I do not understand it completely, but I could give a little landscape. First, let’s talk about the land. Indonesia has so many variants of coffee, yet we do not have a spacious landscape to grow them. Second, the distribution and marketing for Indonesian coffee could be done better. Third, the farmers and every institution involved in the processing system should have a regularized consistency for the quality and quantity of the coffee. Last, the government should work together with farmers from the seedling process to export distribution. Aside from that, I think the reason why our coffee is more expensive than Brazil let’s say is because the coffee fields in Indonesia are usually located in the hinterlands.

What could we do so that more people, local and global wise, can access Indonesian coffee much easier?

R: I think, Indonesia wise, there are already a lot of people that enjoy Indonesian coffee. From kedai to coffee shops. But we can do better in sharing our knowledge on coffee.

S: If we compare Indonesian specialty coffee now to what it was in 2013, it has evolved rapidly. You don’t have to be a coffee snob to know what you’re drinking because Indonesians are learning everyday what good coffee tastes like.

Because of how big the industry has got locally, tasting Indonesian coffee is very accessible. Events such as public cupping, and workshops are already blasted everywhere.

The best approach internationally is through world level competitions. It’s kind of a way to see where we as a country stand on an international scale. And through our achievements, other countries will be intrigued to try our coffees – especially Cup of Excellence; a yearly competition per country that recognizes the highest quality coffees produced by the local farmers.

What is it about Indonesian coffee that more people should know?

R: That there is this barista who’s just became the third champion in a world competition! Well, for sure, aside from that, I think we need to preserve and pass on the vision and knowledge that our coffee farmers have excelled at.

S: There are just so much that we need to explore!

Tell us about your experience in Italy. What’s the most memorable moment from the trip?

S: Of course the competition itself yang paling menarik haha. I feel honored to compete against the best of each country’s baristas. Especially yang sudah compete bertahun-tahun untuk title World Champion. And that’s when I learned mereka terus berjalan dan tidak menyerah after years of competing. That’s pretty wild!

R: Representing Indonesian in an international competition! That was the best moment ever! I learned a lot from the competition, like stage management for example.

What do you do in your spare time that’s not related to coffee?

S: I love being outside, being active. I like cycling, snorkeling and island hopping, or spending sunsets at the beach with my dogs

R: Plants! I love taking care of them. You can check my emerging plant business at @plants.tapi.pasti