The first official appearance of Kopi Pak Wawan was reported by TV station on a fund raising event for one of governor candidate in the last Jakarta’s election. Some people in the industry finally realized that the one behind Kopi Pak Wawan is actually someone familiar in coffee communities and competitions (as judge).
The coffee roastery was started by Ronald Prasanto (an F&B consultant, coffee expert, also ex-owner of Ron’s Laboratory) and 4 other senior coffee people in the industry by the end of 2013, apparently you’ll have to find out yourself who they are.
With its tagline “cheerful heart & addictive”, you have all the rights to assume that Kopi Pak Wawan is a joke, perhaps because it actually is.
In the beginning, they were just fooling around and experimenting to get the so-called “ideal” roasting profile. Located in Ronald’s garage, who has been entrusted to run the operational, the group decided to buy a 1 kg roasting machine and green bean coffee from various origins. The problem arose when Ronald’s wife complained, “Why did you spent hundred millions just for research?”
“Finally we decided to sell the roasted bean on Instagram with the name Kopi Pak Wawan. We only sold the bean we had in the shelf. When we run out of bean of an origin, that’s it, we offer bean from another origin (seasonal),” said Ronald. The other issue is the time availability. Ronald’s job as consultant required him to travel across Indonesia frequently and it caused the production process to be unpredictable.
“Why we named it Pak Wawan? Because we’re just a bunch of curious people, wawan to know. We were not preparing the brand seriously, marketing-wise. On the other hand, we also want to test the market, if we use decently named brand, but we can produce quality products, will people be coming back?” Ronald wondered.
About the anonymity, Ronald has a funny story. “My relative brought me to a coffee shop in Semarang. The owner of the place recognized me as coffee person, but he didn’t know I was behind Kopi Pak Wawan. He started to present Pak Wawan’s bean in front of me, ‘here we have roasted bean that we bought from Instagram, nobody knows the identity of the roaster, please taste the coffee.’ I just said to myself, ‘it’s like having coffee at my home’.”
People started to like the product, and Kopi Pak Wawan have more coffee shops to supply to. Within a year, the people in the industry started to know who’s behind the wheel. Although, there are many who still have no clue, until now. They started to get serious when Wahyu Nazar Amir joined the group in 2016, with the official position as “Son of Pak Wawan”. Basically, Wahyu runs everything, from the sales, roasting, packing, etc, while Ronald monitors the cashflow, inventory, and audit.
Kopi Pak Wawan started to apply professional workflow and monthly target. “We’re quite surprised to see Kopi Pak Wawan’s progress. We used to roast 40 kg of green bean coffee. When Wahyu stepped in, we reached 100 kg. Now, with sales activity, we roast 1 ton of green bean per month,” said Ronald. It’s no wonder that they upgraded the 1 kg roasting machine to 5 kg. If you’re having difficulties to imagine the number, we’ll help. A cup of coffee needs around 20 gram of coffee. A usual coffee shop (not too busy, nor slow) uses 40 kg of roasted bean, in other words, they sell 66 cups in a day. A trending coffee shop might uses up to 120 kg/month or 200 cups a day.
Even though with the high demand, Kopi Pak Wawan doesn’t have any plans to open its own outlet in near future. “The current system is clear, we can close down if we don’t do the production, meanwhile for retail, we have to open at all cost. The fluctuation of coffee shop is crazy, because Indonesians are into anything trending. However, we are certain that the coffee trend will be around for much longer, because when you’re used to drink fresh coffee, it’s hard to go back to the sachet ones, unless you got no other option,” explained Ronald.
Of course, the coffee trend brings positive effect as we have vast growing number of new coffee learners. On the orher hand, this premature trend also have its side effect: many baristas don’t have clear ideas of his own responsibilities. And this sometimes bugging Kopi Pak Wawan.
“For barista, it’s easy to blame the roaster, perhaps to look good in front of owners. In fact, this morning Wahyu just returned from our customer’s coffee shop who said our coffee was bitter. After he did some setting of the espresso machine, the problem was easily solved. This doesn’t have to happen if they have barista or owner who’s capable of setting their own machine. Actually, setting the machine is not our responsibility. Imagine, if we supply to 60 coffee shops, and each one of them request their machine to be set. We can spend the whole month just to set machines,” said Ronald.
Another more extreme example would be when someone complained about the coffee that smelt like spoiled milk in a hotel’s cafe. Again, the roaster was blamed. After investigation, it appeared that the barista never clean the espresso machine’s steam wand, thus some crust of spoiled milk was formed there and it gave the smelly aroma.
Fortunately as someone who’s been there, Ronald can understand their situation. “When I was a barista, I felt the roaster was not consistent. Now I’m a roaster, I feel it’s the green bean supplier, which is unfortunately true. Perhaps the green bean supplier will blame the farmer, and who will the farmer blame? God? For giving unpredictable rainfall? Why don’t we learn to adjust, similar to what the chefs do to compensate the taste with the available ingredients? Unfortunately, the number of barista who can detect problems is surprisingly low in Indonesia,” stated Ronald.
Pak Wawan’s Idealism
Because it started as casual project, Ronald admitted that Kopi Pak Wawan’s idealism is quite firm, not too profit oriented. “In the beginning people saw us as supplier for extreme beans, such as 90+ Hachira Yirgacheffe which costed Rp 1.000.000/kg of green bean. We only sold it at Rp 130.000-140.000/100 gram. when you count weight loss (from green bean to roasted bean) in, we only got Rp 10.000 per pack. That’s why we managed to sell 10 kg of roasted bean in only 30 minutes in Instagram,” he remembered.
When the demand is going up and the supply stays the same, why not raise the price? “Taking high margin (from exotic bean) is not our goal. We want Indonesians to experience expensive bean, to know whether they like it or not. I have someone complained to me, why our Panama Geisha’s body is very light, no bitterness, it only has sweetness and acidity. Well, that’s Panama Geisha’s characters. As you can see, expensive doesn’t mean good for everyone, especially when I found out that he preferred bold coffee,” he said.
To further educate the market, Kopi Pak Wawan deliberately offers the same bean with different processing (such as Bajawa honey and Bajawa full washed) or bean from the same farm but different varietal (Andung Sari and Bor Bor, both came from Pengalengan, West Java). “If you’re serious on coffee, you have to find out the differences first hand. Somebody has to give these kind of information, it’s not all about sales. I remembered 7-8 years ago when V60 came to Indonesia, me and my friends have no idea of how to brew coffee with it, because the information was very limited,” said Ronald.
Chances are, if you often hangout in coffee shops, you’d probably have seen the packaging of Kopi Pak Wawan hanging around the shelves. You might even have tasted the coffee as it has been available in numerous coffee shops, especially in Jakarta. As a mixture of joke, quality products, social media sensation, education and idealism, Kopi Pak Wawan brings the fun into the serious coffee world.