A coffee shop in Jakarta’s Chinatown and its 90-year-old success story - Tourism Indonesia




Friday, December 3, 2021

A coffee shop in Jakarta’s Chinatown and its 90-year-old success story

Kopi Es Tak Kie in Jakarta's Glodok area has not changed much since its beginning in 1927. (Photo: Kiki Siregar)

Tucked away in a small, dark alley of Jakarta’s Glodok area lies a hidden gem that can be easily overlooked by anyone passing through. This is due to its rundown structure concealed by many wooden stalls around it.

Despite its unappealing look, Kopi Es Tak Kie has a long history and a simple recipe for success and these explain why the coffee shop continues to attract dozens of loyal patrons every day. 

As numerous pictures on the coffee shop’s walls can testify, the shop counts among many of its customers famous individuals and politicians including President Joko Widodo and Jakarta’s Governor Anies Baswedan.    

For almost a century Kopi Es Tak Kie has witnessed how the Indonesian capital evolved. But for the coffee shop itself, one thing has always remained the same since it began business: its old-style coffee blends. 

“I don’t know what keeps people coming. Perhaps the coffee suits them, so they keep coming,” said 71-year-old Latif Yulus, who runs the shop with three of his siblings.

The third-generation owner said the shop makes its beverage out of ground coffee and no other additional flavours, unlike the new inventions of coffee chains.


Kopi Es Tak Kie was started in 1927 by Yulus’ grandfather Liong Kwie Tjong, an immigrant from China.

He set up his coffee stall or warung kopi as it is called in Indonesia with a cart around Glodok market, which is now famously known as Jakarta’s Chinatown. 

Having started from a humble beginning, Liong Kwie Tjong decided to name his coffee Tak Kie. Yulus said "tak" suggests a wise, prudent and modest person, while “kie” means familiar or fondly remembered. 

“So Tak Kie is a modest person who is simple and if the person departs, he or she is fondly remembered for his simplicity.

“It could be the simplicity of his behaviour or clothes,” said Yulus.

Liong Kwie Tjong's son Liong Tjoen, who is Yulus’ father, later took over the business and started serving fresh coffee from the alley in Glodok, which is often called Gloria alley.  


Simplicity seems to be the coffee shop’s secret recipe for success. 

While many coffee shops nowadays serve a variety of coffee flavours, Kopi Es Tak Kie only offers black coffee and milk coffee.

Both can be served hot or cold, priced at 20,000 rupiah (US$1.40) for a cup of black coffee and 22,000 rupiah for milk coffee.

Longtime customer Penny Liauw, 56, says her favourite is iced milk coffee.

“It tastes different, not like the average coffee. I once asked them how they make their coffee.  

“They said they blend it in the morning, and if they run out of it, that’s it,” said Liauw who has frequented the cafe for about 12 years.

Her husband, who used to live around the neighbourhood, was the one who introduced her to Kopi Es Tak Kie and now she visits it almost every day when she is not out of town. 

Apart from coffee, the shop also serves other dishes such as chicken noodle, meatball, nasi tim (steam rice) chicken and nasi campur (rice with pork). 

For 30,000 rupiah, the chicken noodle is also Liauw’s favourite dish. 

Another patron, who only wants to be known as Iwan, has been frequenting the coffee shop for more than 10 years to seek his favourite nasi campur and a cup of hot black coffee.

“It’s delicious. Everything is just in the right quantity and they all blend well,” says Iwan, who is in his 50s.  

Yulus, the owner, said that his regular customers include both Muslims and non-Muslims.

For whatever dishes they choose, many of the customers usually opt for Tak Kie’s special brew of coffee to go along with them.

According to Yulus, his shop only uses coffee beans from Lampung, Sumatra. They make their coffee only once in the morning.

The shop opens daily as soon as the coffee is ready at around 6am or 7am, and closes at 2pm since there are not many customers in the afternoon.

Usually, the coffee runs out by midday. After that, customers patrons have to satisfy themselves with a cup of tea or teh tarik (hot tea with milk).


Bambang Wahyudi (left) and Iwan Gunawan are newcomers to Kopi Es Tak Kie. (Photo: Kiki Siregar).

Among those who had to make do with Tak Kie’s tea servings were civil servant Bambang Wahyudi and his colleague Iwan Gunawan. 

They only managed to get to the shop after the Friday noon’s Muslim prayers. 

“We decided to drop by because Mr Anies once visited this place,” said Wahyudi, referring to the city governor.

“I first didn’t realise this is the place because I thought the cafe he visited was in the Old Town. But my friend said this is the place. So, I thought: ‘Let’s go.’ It was just a coincidence,” added Wahyudi.  

“My first impression is, 'Wow, this place is so old ... And everything seems untidy.' But perhaps that is by design to make it unique,” said the 54-year-old while pointing at the rusty ceiling fans.

His friend Gunawan said that he had long thought about visiting the place as he had seen many friends posting pictures of it on Instagram.

Gunawan was glad to make his first visit to the shop though he just missed having a taste of its famous coffee. 

He will definitely return to have a taste of Tak Kie’s coffee.

Baswedan is not the only Jakarta governor who has visited the coffee shop.

Jokowi, as the president is popularly known, had made several visits before he was elected as the head of state. He first visited the shop when he was running for governor of Jakarta, and then again when he was the city’s governor in 2013. 

Jokowi said that his favourite drink was iced black coffee. 

Pictures of Jokowi, Baswedan, former Jakarta deputy governor Sandiaga Uno who is now tourism minister as well as a few other famous people visiting the diner adorn the walls of the shop.

Having famous guests dropping by surely is a magnet that helps Kopi Es Tak Kie maintain its appeal.    

Shop owner Yulus said there is another ingredient for success. “We try to maintain our quality and always behave politely. If we are grumpy, nobody wants to come.” (Channelnewsasia)





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