the kopi kultur – JAVA

We have been trained from young to give respect to coffee. It has spirits, we were told. The serious ones would recite the prayers or doa giving thanks for the blessing.

It has its reasons. The kampung was predominantly Javanese. JAVA culture was strong. Coffee was the primary commodity when the Javanese opened up lands. First it was betel nuts, later on it was coffee that brought the money.

My family had 11 acres of the land planted with coffee.  The trees were full grown when I was young. My tasks were to climb the trees to harvest the ripe , red fruits. The girls and emak would be picking up the coffee.

I learned my multiplication while climbing the trees. My mother whom i adressed as “Emak” would insist I remember the multiplication table by heart. It was the stick or the 10 sen carrot.Later on during my pre University years in England, My Matsalleh Englishman math teacher commented in my report card ” Esham has the aptitude for maths and physics”. I have the coffee beans to thank for.

Emak would focus her pickings on KOPI TAIK MUSANG or the LUWAK.  These were the remains of the civet cats, the excreta. The coffee beans do not get digested and would go through the gastronomical processing. These are ripen and aged berries the civets are after.

The processed LUWAK coffee beans or BERAS which literally means rice, the staple food of Asians, were the reserve of the elders.  They could never imagine that their favourite would fetch a high premium in the coffee world.

My grandmother, Nenek, would do her own processing on the wood flame wok. We also have our own grinding machine.Before that it was the wooden mortar or the lesung.

Serving tea to visitors would be  low class and disrespectful. It must be coffee. And the coffee dust was not filtered. That was the source of the kick. We still do not sieve our coffee till now.

There is a word for it, kopi gobres, which means untidy, the coffee grounds sticking on your outer lips and teeth. In fact there is a collection of coffee vocabulary.

Magleg is the perfect brew, sweetness, bitterness, concentration, temperature. Jogan is the very diluted brew. Then there is eastnorwest, not here nor there, cempelang is the word.

I did not see the industry for long. During one of the dry season, the 11 acres went through a slow death. The peat fire.That was the end of our KEBUN KOPI. Palm oil took over.

When I was repairing the Big house I found one coffee bean underneath the door beam. It was symbolic. The veranda was the place the coffee beans were left to dry.

- Lord of Kendal (15 November 2008) Inspigoblog.

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