RARE Kopi’s Call to Play

by Runi Cholid
6th October 2022
Started off as a pandemic hobby, RARE Kopi from Bali has found its second home on Jalan Pemuda in Pulo Gadung, bringing its unique spirit of play and locality into the capital city through a range of well-crafted caffeinated drinks.

When the pandemic began, many turned to new and returning hobbies (from cycling and gardening to mechanical keyboards) to make their time in quarantine just a tad more bearable. For media designer Pande Made Anagha Divantara, it was coffee that attracted him. In particular, playing around with different kinds of beans and flavour notes to develop his ideal cup of joe. 

Last year, the hobby turned into RARE Kopi, a coffee shop that operates out of the garage of his childhood home in Bali. Fast forward to the present, RARE (read ra·ré, Balinese for children) has found another garage to make it its home in Jakarta. Situated just off the fast lane of Jalan Pemuda in Pulo Gadung, at a glance, the new location may have seemed less than ideal—the coffee scene there isn’t as active as the one in the south, after all. 

“But that’s the thing, we think there’s something that we can build here. And plus, this side of the city still has a very strong Jakarta and Betawi presence. At certain times of the day, you’ll even see bajajs lining up in front of the café,” shared the Jakarta outlet co-founder Yudha, whose wife and fellow co-founder, nicknamed Bebek, owns the house the new café operates out of.

This act of embracing existing local cultures is one that was carried over from RARE’s time in Bali, and it’s reflected in the design of the café. Japanese minimalism meets local vernacular designs, showcased through the ketoprak (a street food dish) cart-inspired barista bar, while creations by local artists decorate the shelves in the spirit of collaboration. At the same time, RARE also makes use of technologies like projection mapping and AR in its space and products, bringing over a different set of experiences for coffee-goers.

“The dream [for RARE] is to disseminate the intersection between art, technology and all these things I specialise in through coffee,” explained Pande, who studied media design at Keio University in Tokyo (hence the Japanese influence).

As seen through their drinks menu, RARE isn’t afraid to be playful while still paying serious attention to the craft. Signatures, presented on anime-inspired cards, incorporate classic Betawi names like Espresso Tonic si Entong, a refreshing combination of espresso, tonic water and syrup, and Zaenab Ichigo Latte, which mixes up the classic caffè latte with strawberry puree sourced from Bebek’s family garden, hinting at RARE’s goal to become a farm-to-table café.

There are also names derived from puns, like Krisdayan Tea (referring to the famous local singer, Krisdayanti) and the Bunga Telang Ngangkat, an eye-catching concoction infused with Asian pigeonwings. For the meaning of the latter, it’s best to ask head barista Rana Gema (it’s quite indecent), and while at it, get adventurous and request off-the-menu drinks—he gladly welcomes it.

Ultimately, a visit to the café is best enjoyed as one would a friend’s house. The drinks are engaging, the baristas friendly—and once the sun sets, one can have their fill of street food from neighbouring vendors while Pande’s projection mapping (showcasing art from the community as well as his own) plays in the background and fuels conversations. All of the sudden, it’s hard to leave the simple abode of RARE Kopi.