The Jamu Bar: Modernizing traditional herbal medicine without losing the original taste

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(Photo: Prive. Doc)

IO – Jamu is an authentic traditional Javanese drink made from Indonesian herbs, which are reputed to benefit beauty and health. Drinking herbal medicine nowadays can be done in a cafe with a more modern appearance of herbal medicine, without failing to enjoy the original taste. The Jamu Bar, which located at Burgreens Pacific Place, Sudirman SCBD, South Jakarta, is one of the cool places to enjoy herbal medicine and buy packaged herbal products. 

Denise Chen and Claudia Alana Ong are the figures behind The Jamu Bar. In 2017, because of their love for herbal medicine, they collaborated to create The Jamu Bar. Denise Chen knows herbal medicine because she is close to Claudia Ong and Vanessa Ong, great-grandchildren of Nyonya Meneer, one of the most famous herbal medicine brands in Indonesia; meanwhile, Claudia wants to preserve and maintain Indonesia’s traditional culture. 

Concept 

Denise and Claudia believe that The Jamu Bar can deliver new and more authentic innovations among today’s young and Millennial generations. “The Jamu Bar describes herbal medicine as part of traditionalism that we adopt and present with the uniqueness of the original flavors of herbs such as Jamu Kunyit Asem, Sari Asem, and Ginger Wangi,” said Claudia, a woman born in the United States, March 4, 1991. 

To make things more modern, Denise and Claudia chose the word ‘bar’. The ‘bar’ concept describes modern herbal medicine with elegance, clean and unique looks. This is the choice of Denise and Claudia, who make The Jamu Bar cafe comfortable for Millennials to enjoy the herbal menu, with its various properties. Likewise, the packaging concept of The Jamu Bar is chosen to be as attractive as possible, so that it shows the uniqueness, cleanliness, and elegance of the product. 

The Jamu Bar can accommodate around 30 visitors and is open from 09.00 to 22.00 WIB. “The number of visitors is beyond our expectations, as there are apparently many Millennials who are interested in traditional herbal medicine and who would like the new taste of the herbs that we present,” Claudia explained. 

Taste 

To attract middle to upper-class customers, especially Millennials, the first thing The Jamu Bar does is change the mindset of Millennials regarding herbal medicine. Claudia says many people still think herbal medicine is a traditional drink that tastes bitter. 

Therefore, The Jamu Bar presents a variety of herbal products with unique flavors and far from bitter. “We adjust it to what Millennials are looking for, types of drinks that are healthy to consume, but still have a unique and distinctive taste, which Millennials can accept,” said Claudia. 

The Jamu Bar serves the traditional jamu with the development of various flavors and variants. The uniqueness of the herbal medicine menus uses the basic ingredients of herbal medicine combined with the addition of fruits or other ingredients that are rich in benefits such as chocolate, coffee, oranges, coconut, matcha, and coconut milk. 

The Jamu Bar serves traditional herbal medicine, mixed herbs or mocktail jamu, and fusion jamu. An example of the herbal menu available is the Ginger Matcha Latte, which is a blend of ginger, green tea, and coconut milk. Besides that, there is also herbal Ginger Cappuccino. “Our main menu is Sari Asem, Kunyit Asem, Ginger Wangi and Turmeric Latte or a combination of basic herbal medicine with coconut milk,” said Claudia. 

(Photo: Prive. Doc)

Traditional herbal medicine, namely Jamu Kunyit Asam, is processed from several ingredients, including turmeric, tamarind, ginger, cinnamon, lime, pandan leaves; it is said to be useful for healing pain, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant. 

Other menu items available at The Jamu Bar include Jamu Shot, Fresh Herbs Flight, Curcuma Sari, Pletok Beer, Rice Powder, Passion Orange and Ginger, Cocoa Coffee, and Selemanis. Pletok Beer prepared from ginger, wooden cup, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, pandan leaves, lime leaves, chili Java, which is said to be anti-inflammatory, stimulates blood circulation, and improves immunity. 

Kencur rice processed from organic rice and galangal serves to enhance immunity, beauty, and reduce flatulence (bloating). Selemanis processed from lemongrass, cinnamon, and lemon function as detoxification, digestive aid, and help the healing process. Herbal mocktail menus such as Nastar Mocktail, Pink Flamingo Mocktails, and Apple Plum Mocktail. 

The Jamu Bar supplies semi-organic raw materials from a herbal medicine factory in Central Java. The Jamu Bar is also supported by many local farmers there. Claudia’s background, who is part of Nyonya Meneer’s extended family, has enabled her to gain expertise in concocting herbs. 

Claudia and her sister Vanessa Kalani Ong, along with her partner Denise Chen, really like herbal medicine; they like to mix various types of herbal medicine. They mix the herbs and make it taste more modern, without losing the original taste of Indonesian herbal medicine. “We are also working with herbalists to find out the properties of our herbs,” said Claudia. 

Collaboration with Putri Indonesia 

To introduce herbal medicine to Millennial circles, and more broadly, The Jamu Bar collaborates with Putri Indonesia 2014 Elvira Devinamira. Elvira is Putri Indonesia, who then entered the Top 15 and Best National Costume in Miss Universe 2014. 

Claudia and Denise see Elvira as a representation of Millennials with beauty and a healthy lifestyle. Elvira admitted that she was interested in working with The Jamu Bar because she wanted to help others to maintain health and immunity. “I want people to realize the importance of maintaining health and appearance, because of its tagline- its beauty and immunity,” said Elvira, a woman who was born in Surabaya, June 28, 1993. 

Since childhood, Elvira was used to drinking herbs such as kencur rice, tamarind juice, and ginger. The woman who holds a law degree from Airlangga University said that jamu is a legacy from our ancestors that must be preserved and become the identity of our country. 

“I hope that herbal medicine can be more scalable and stop considering herbal medicine as an ancient thing because herbal medicine is a legacy from our ancestors that has many benefits for beauty and health. Herbal medicine uses natural ingredients with no preservatives, easy medicine, or artificial drugs,” said Elvira. 

The collaboration between The Jamu Bar and Elvira is to sell The Jamu Bar products of beauty and the immunity, one pack containing two sachets of ginger scented and two sachets tamarind juice. Fragrant ginger serves to boost immunity and to relieve sore throat; meanwhile, there is an acid extract for healthy skin and hair, and reduce fat. 

The Jamu Bar does not only provide herbal medicine in its cafe but also sells superior herbal products in packaged form. Collaboration with Elvira increases sales of herbal medicine for beauty and immunity. “Our beautiful and precise packing makes The Jamu Bar one of the powdered herbal products that sell a package of traditional health recipes. Sari Asem and Ginger Fragrant be packing in one package with a friendly price among the Millennial bag,” said Claudia. 

The COVID-19 pandemic 

The COVID-19 pandemic is a challenge for The Jamu Bar. Because based on government policy, cafes and restaurants were closed during the Large-Scale Social Restriction (PSBB) some time ago. However, The Jamu Bar took the moment to improve the herbal products in their packaging through sales in online shops, such as Shopee, Tokopedia, and other market places

The Jamu Bar also collaborates with Now Market Menteng, Grand Indonesia Square, and others. The Jamu Bar also sends herbs to several hotels such as the Pullman Thamrin Hotel, Grand Hyatt, and the Ritz Carlton. In the future, Claudia hopes that The Jamu Bar can innovate in presenting modern variants of traditional health products. 

“We hope that in the future we can open several new outlets and introduce traditional herbal medicine and modern herbal medicine to a wider Millennial circle,” said Claudia. (Kartika Indah)