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Pipiltin’s Crossroad

Irvan Helmi is facing crossroad in 2015 for his business

it’s pretty natural to search for “Pipiltin” in Instagram when you want to search chocolate cafes. But this year, something uncommon happen, I found @pipiltinjapan with Pipiltin’s inverted color in the search result. I said to myself, “the chocolate bar is authentically Pipiltin’s, are they opening new business in Japan? Or is this a fake account?”. I don’t like assumption, so I called Irvan Helmi, the owner of Pipiltin Cocoa (and also Anomali Coffee, FYI). It appears that my first guess was spot on!

Pipiltin gained popularity in 2013 when they opened their first outlet in Barito, and the next year, they opened another outlet in Senopati. Today, the only remaining Pipiltin outlet is in Sarinah Plaza with streamlined dine-in menus. While some people might be wondering why, I was fortunate to able to listen from the owner first hand. “In middle of 2015 to the end of the year, Pipiltin is at the crossroad. As chocolate café, are we gonna be home of dessert, or are gonna be chocolate manufacturer,” Irvan recalled.

Irvan, along with and his sister & co owner, Tissa Aunilla, analyzed all the possible outcomes. “If the café chocolate consumption rose, we wouldn’t have the chocolate supplies. We would become permissive and tempted to start using chocolate from other companies, and it contradicted our initial concept: bean to bar. Are we going to be Max Brenner? Not to say that it’s bad, but that way, we couldn’t change the supply chain, we want to encourage cacao farmers to come up with better products. In addition, we’ll have new competitors every year; we also have to come up with new menu every 3 months. After contemplating, we found out that our passion is not in pastry, but in chocolate. To us, anyone with pastry chefs can start new dessert café, but only a few people are willing to manufacture small to medium scale chocolate from scratch like what we do now. It’s clearly more blue ocean (please Google: “Blue Ocean Strategy”).”

Irvan felt that dessert cafe is very “lifestyle”, not very sustainable, and the fluctuation of the business is deep. “Finally we decided to stick with Pipiltin’s core business: manufacturing chocolate from scratch with the supply from 4 of the best regions in Indonesia; Aceh, East Java, Bali, and Flores. In the near future, we will also add 2 more single origins from Lombok and Papua. With this concept, we are able to penetrate into Japanese market in the beginning of 2017,” said Irvan.

Sarinah Building
Jalan M. H. Thamrin No. 11
Gondangdia, Menteng
Jakarta Pusat, DKI Jakarta 10350, Indonesia
Phone: +62 21 31923008