In the Sanctuary of Toko Kopi Maru

by Runi Cholid
14th December 2021
Half-hidden amidst residential buildings in Pasar Baru, Toko Kopi Maru opens its age-old doors to city folks in search of a cup of joe and a sanctuary from the metropolitan’s insistent bustle.

When the scorching heat of Pasar Baru beckons for a rest in the shade, simply step into the open gates of No. 33 on Jl. Pintu Air Raya. While the small banner advertising tutoring sessions might fool casual onlookers, the prize goes to those with sharp eyes who can spot the tiny signage on the corner; for what awaits inside is not just extra math lessons, but a calmful respite within the homey abode of Toko Kopi Maru.

To call it ‘homey’ is to mean it in a literal sense. The coffee shop, founded by banker Hendry Candra and contractor Barata Kusumah, resides in the family home of Tio Tek Hong, whose name is famed for establishing Dutch East Indies’ very first record label in the early 20th century just a few blocks away. Though the public knew him as such, to Barata, who grew up in the house under the care of his aunt, he was his great grandfather.

So when Toko Kopi Maru relocated from their old spot in Menteng into the residential home, minimal renovations were done, keeping the authenticity of the house intact. Water stains and exposed bricks remain untouched, blending organically with its time-worn architecture. The living room, garage, front porch, and lawn are open to the coffee shop’s patrons, while the remaining structure continues to serve as the family’s residence.

Under the shade of the star fruit tree in the outdoor seating area, one can’t go wrong with a classic glass of Latte or Long Black, especially when accompanied with the shop’s local light bites, like the delightful potato-based Donat Maru. But a special boon awaits those willing to sample more peculiar options; the favourites Yuzu Cold Brew and Baileys Latte, or the seasonal star fruit drink Starling (harvested directly from the aforementioned tree).

With Pos Bloc and Pasar Baru’s troves of culinary mainstays just a walking distance away, opportunities abound for urbanites on the hunt for something new in the area. For some, however, it might be hard to embark anywhere else after settling nicely into the shaded sanctuary of the coffee shop—and there’s no shame in that.

Here, the rush of the metropole finds no place to linger. All that’s left to do is to grab a glass, put your phones aside (no power outlet at the tables here), and let conversations and comfortable silences weave themselves naturally amidst the neighbourly sounds of wind chimes and a dog’s playful barkings.