Jakarta. Indonesians love milky, sweet coffee. Called "kopi susu," or "milk coffee," you can get the drinks everywhere, from "Starbikes" on the side of the road where the proprietors would simply dunk instant milk coffee powder from a sachet into a thin plastic cup and pour hot water over it, to fancy cold brew places where you get to choose which single origin coffee beans will be carefully tampered to make your eventual sweet milky caffeine hit.
With so many kopi susu places springing up everywhere (open your Go-Food and get overwhelmed by all the options), you might need some recommendations to make sure you don't end up with sweet nothings.
Kopi Es Tak Kie (Tak Kie's Iced Coffee)
Akwang and his twelve siblings are the third generation in his family to run the famous Kopi Es Tak Kie shop in Glodok, Jakarta's Chinatown.
60-year-old Akwang has devoted his whole life running the kopi tiam-style coffee shop in Gang Gloria, surrounded by stalls selling mie babi (pork noodle soup), bakso goreng (fried pork meatballs), nasi campur (mixed rice platter) and a cart selling medicinal turtle soup – all of which you can order into Tak Kie with your order of iced black or milky coffee.
Akwang’s grandfather Akong started the place in 1927 and nothing has changed since then. Everything from the interior, the shopfront and the menu has never been altered.
"We don’t make our coffees per order like people do these days. We make a big portion at once," Akwang said.
"Tak Kie" is a poetic Mandarin word that has multiple meanings.
"Tak Kie means simplicity, intercommunication and patience," Akwang said.
The iced coffee at Tak Kie is served black or sweetened with a thick layer of condensed milk. The ice blocks are irregularly shaped, and the tall clear glass comes with a plastic straw. The vibe is both rough 'n' ready and homely.
Old pictures of Tak Kie and photos of celebrities and politicians visiting the coffee shop line the wall.
"[President] Jokowi came here twice when he was running for governor [of Jakarta] and he came after he was elected, but he hasn't come back since he became president," Akwang said.
Address: Jalan Pintu Besar Selatan 3, No. 4-6, West Jakarta.
Opening hours: 6:30 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Dhydha Maryudha and his siblings were asked to continue running their parents’ Padang restaurant. But their love for coffee led them to open their own shop instead.
Sagaleh in Minang means "one cup." Sagaleh's plastic cup contains a concentrated coffee blend that's slightly bitter and has a dark, toasty brown hue.
Dhydha has also created a special sugar and spice blend for their milk coffee, giving the drink a peculiar taste that's hard to explain but instantly recognizable.
If you're not fond of strong coffee, they have a milder option called "Es Kopmil" – milk coffee with added Milo powder. It tastes exactly like a creamy chocolate bar.
Address: Jalan Petogogan I/V No. 2, RT. 1/RW. 12, Gandaria Utara, South Jakarta
Opening hours: 9 a.m. - 9 p.m.
Toko Kopi Tuku (Tuku's Coffee Shop)
Kopi Tuku became so famous after President Jokowi visited their Cipete branch that for a while the shop struggled to keep up with the hordes of Go-Jek drivers trying to make their customers' orders.
"Tuku" in Javanese means "to buy." Kopi Tuku has an extensive menu, but their most famous drink is "Kopi Susu Tetangga" ("Your Neighbor’s Milk Coffee").
The coffee is sweetened with cream and brown sugar, and is a bit on the sweeter side.
Pro tip: get yours with an extra espresso shot and less sugar.
Address: Pasar Santa Blok A L00, Kebayoran Baru, South Jakarta
Opening hours: 7 a.m. - 8 p.m.