I dislike to use the word “best”, actually, as it is too superlative, and I’m far from having the competence to judge. Yet, this is a friggin’ blog. So, here it is … the list of the “best” coffee shops in Jakarta according to moi. (If you’re looking for details like addresses, opening hours, phone numbers, etc., will you please, please try clicking the names? Thanks.)
THE BIG FOUR – ALPHABETICALLY ORDERED
It’s just tempting to call this place “pretentious’. Yet, it is clearly proven that 1/15 Coffee wholeheartedly practices uncomprimising strive to deliver the best possible. Various blends and single origins roasted by Morph Coffee either pulled out of a LaMarzocco engine or manually brewed using the widest range of equipments in Jakarta. Babyccino available. Cappuccino delivers a great balance. Manual brews are presented elegantly with accompanying beans to smell before we drink from the clear vessel. Bali Inten Dewata, Sumatera Dolok Sanggul, and Sunda Gulali are among the regular single origins.
1/15 Coffee seriously empowers their human resources by training and sending the baristas to national, regional, and international competition. They also occasionally hold small scale Latte Art Throwdowns and Aeropress Competition. This is home for respectable champion baristas, and the blends they use to compete are also served here. For casual coffee drinkers, the cold brew twisted with lime – simply called Rock Java Lime – is a favorite.
Communal tables, high tables, lounge corner, loners bar and brew bar are all safe from the small smoking section in the back – thankfully! The layout functions well for both chatty groups and young, creative minds who prefer to be alone with their MacBooks and wifi. There is a multifunctioning space on the second floor where soon barista class will be held. Every Saturday morning everybody can join cupping session with Morph Coffee.
The food are homemade. Cakes and pastries are delicious and served warm. Must try: Pineapple Cake. Heavier meals are uniquely Palembang (South Sumatera), including the awesome Mie Celor (seafood noodles in thick broth). My favorite breakfast menu is Bangers on Peas.
Another place that strives for perfection in both coffee and food. Your coffee will be served by Iwan “Joni” Setiawan, the Champion of Indonesia Latte Art Championship 2014, and Yoshua “Yoshi” Tanu”, the Champion of Indonesia Barista Championship 2014 who also bagged the Best Cappuccino Award. See my separate review HERE.
It’s hard not to fall in love at first visit with this vibrant, communal place ever-so-corresponding with the antique market of Jalan Surabaya. Somehow, the small corridor leading to the intimate courtyard already feels caffeinated. Fussball table, huge free-form communal, and cute chairs fill the youthful outdoor area. And, as you enter the cafe, you will be immediatly convinced that you’re in for a big treat.
The place is brimming with passion. Steampunk, customized Athena Leva type of Victoria Arduino engine is often operated by the owner himself, pulling out bold and tasty cups of espresso. Do not try to ask for other drinks than coffee here because he will just laugh at you. Giyanti proudly roasts their own beans, so who bloody cares about tea? The piccolo – based on beans from Toraja – was the best I’ve ever had in Jakarta. I also tried brewing their fully-washed Togos Gropas (North Sumatera) beans at home using Clever Coffee Dripper, and it’s damn fine! They have Espresso Cookie made of – uncompromisingly! – Yrgacheffe and Toraja Sapan beans, and it’s only Rp10K (US$1-something) each!
Ambience is lively, eccentric, very Melbourne, and made more alive with a collection of antiques against colorful backdrops. It’s far from being uptight, and the atmosphere generates trifling conversations. I must say I cannot see myself working alone on my laptop here, so – yes! – better come to have fun and enjoy the tasty cuppa, and skip the deadlines.
It’s everybody’s immediate favorite little corner for all the right reasons. The roastery and bakery work together to satisfy caffeine junkies and pastry addicts. Tanamera boasts a Slayer, and they use it very well. Their vision is to bring Indonesian beans up to the next level, and they are equipped with a Diedrich roasting machine.
The espresso blend is a mix of beans from Toraja, Flores, and Papua. Many cappuccino addicts claim Tanamera’s is the best in town. As for me, their freshly roasted single origins never fail. The caramel-coated banana cake is devilish, and the dark coffee cake is evil. New creations in pastry department keep on coming and they all worth trying.
Ten people inside and the place will feel cramped already. The lively soundscape is often caused by coffee enthusiasts swapping stories. Those who are looking for solitude perhaps should wait until Tanamera opens a larger joint in a shopping mall – yes, they have made the plan! Location is everything, and Tanamera is conveniently situated close to Grand Indonesia and Thamrin City shopping malls, yet still apart from the crowds.
THE UNDERSTATED ONES
The humble and small cafe is tucked somewhere in Kemang. It’s a homework to get there, but it’s a great community-based coffee shop. They roast, they pull out espressos, and they brew manually. The interior has that typical Kemang funk, and it matches the regulars who are mostly young, creative forces from nearby production houses and companies. I hate travelling to Kemang area for so many reasons: the traffic jam, and the many F&B outlets that pay more attention to decor than to what they feed us. Yet, Headline is a winning pick whenever I find myself lolling around in Kemang.
Long before third-wave coffee shops start to arrive in Jakarta, the not-so-stylish Caffé La Tazza has always been my escape whenever I’m browsing for cheap stuff in Mal Ambassador (shopping mall). Hipsters may underestimate this joint, but they serve wonderful, wonderful Cappuccino Scuro, great syphoned single origins, and delicious Nasi Goreng. Service is always friendly. Their quieter and seemingly larger branch is in – yet, another not-so-hip address – Electronic City in Sudirman Central Business District area. Now, if most cool coffee places easily befriend fashionable youngsters and post-brunch ladies, Caffé La Tazza is where the unpretentious gentlemen go. A very unique and authentic Jakarta’s coffee place that should never be forgotten – not just for the sake of it, but mostly because of the passionate brews.
I must say that the biggest reason why this place is “best” for me is because of the location in EpicentrumWalk, Kuningan. A five-minute walk from my place will take me here. So, whenever I feel lazy to work on my Clever Coffee Dripper, Aeropress or French Press, I’d hunt for beans the owners of Pandava have collected from abroad. Yup, they travel quite a lot, and this means Counter Culture, Blue Bottle, Madcap, Intelligentsia, and many more fancy beans occasionally pop up here. Pandava creates and roasts their own blends, and the espresso has a strong kick. Skillful baristas and passionate owners make this place rather ideal, except for one thing – one major thing! – that always bugs me: the non-smoking section is far in the back, and very small, while people are allowed to smoke in the brew bar, disrespecting the holy beans and manual brewing equipments.
We’ve been talking about coffee places in Center and South Jakarta. Koultoura Coffee is a joy for West Jakartans. The overall design can be considered among the best in Jakarta’s F&B scenes. It’s original, it’s bold, and it delivers the right message. This is a place to get energized – by both the coffee, and the food. They serve beans from various roasters, both local and foreign. Youngsters flock to get their “fun beverages”, while coffee enthusiasts will find a great home here in the West. Try the blueberry muffin!
And now, we are in the North Jakarta. Pluit and Muara Karang areas are home to super-tasty, hassle-free, Chinese food. Yup, just like Kota and Kelapa Gading, these are the areas where you will learn that those sleek, beautifully designed restaurants in South Jakarta actually taste absolutely nothing. In this delightful setting, Wall Street presents itself with a unique concept. It’s where stockbrokers get their caffeine fix, and the baristas are well-trained to brew and serve great espresso-based beverages and filtered coffee. It’s humble, it’s far from catering to snobbish coffee connoisseurs, and it brews like nobody’s business. I want more of places like this one!