‘Kopi Es Tak Kie’, the oldest coffee shop in Chinatown

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Es Tak Kie Coffee shop in the Alley of Gloria, Glodok. (photo: IO/Raihan)

IO, Jakarta – In the past, Gloria Lane (Gang Gloria) became a legend, dense with a row of sellers of various types of food and snacks on both sides. The official map of DKI Jakarta currently names this ‘Pintu Besar III Street’. However, this alley is better known by its old name. The Independent Observer team dropped in on Ice Coffee Tak Kie, one of the more famous coffee shops. The alley is off Gajah Mada Street, Pinangsia Village, Taman Sari district, West Jakarta. Kopi Tak Kie was established in the Dutch colonial period and survived the colonisation by Japanese, and is still open for business today. When entering the establishment, the atmosphere will remind us classical Chinese times. Chairs carved of teak are used. The Independent Observer then meets Willy, who is a 4th generation member of the family that runs Ice Coffee Tak Kie. Willy explains that Tak Kie has been in business since 1927, started by Liong Kwie Tjong, a native of Canton. Initially, it was just an ordinary coffee shop. Then in the 1940s, the son of the founder, Lion Tjoeng, who was also a 2nd generation Indonesian-Chinese, continued his father’s business, and opened a small diner in Gloria Lane. In 1976, Ayauw, son of Lion Tjoeng (and also the father of Willy, a 3rd generation family member), continued the legacy. Ayauw combines several types of coffee, with a medium roast process; Robusta and Arabica from Lampung became finally known as ‘Kopi Es Tak Kie’. Tak Kie’s name is taken from Mandarin, the word ‘tak’ means wise, simple, and what is. While the word ‘kie’ itself is familiar to many people. Behind the meaning of the name of the store, Liong Kwie Tjong wanted his successors to always be simple and work hard. Willy argues that Tak Kie has undergone many changes since the era of social media has penetrated all regions in Indonesia, and especially the capital city. While the first customers who came to his coffee shop were people who lived nearby, or heard about it through word of mouth, when entering the present, many know Kopi Tak Kie through social media. Not just Indonesians: expats also often stop by Tak Kie after a visit to the Old City. They come from countries such as China, America, Canada and Australia. Although already established for 91 years, Tak Kie is never out of date. Willy said that he was running branches outside Chinatown, such as opening a stand in one of the malls in the middle of town, following the food bazaar, and planning to set up a stand at a Food Garden event in Kemang. He intends to create a social media presence through Instagram for a younger generation who love coffee and can become familiar with Kopi Es Tak Kie. Although many other restaurants or coffee shops are more modern, willy is not worried. ‘We do not need to follow others. Still simple coffee with milk, that’s all,’ he said. Willy adheres to the words of advice from his great-grandfather, Lio Kwie Tjong. ‘Always remember that we have to be honest and dignified – that’s the key. We must never give up, even though when we do business we must do it with pride, dignity and honesty. Never cheat when trading, or there will be consequences. Maintain your standards’ Willy concludes, remembering his grandfather. (Raihan Ismail)

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