Coffee addicts are advised to sample a cup of Kopi Joss (charcoal coffee) when they’re in Yogyakarta. Its taste and unique preparation method will leave you coming back for more. A favourite even for international tourists, Kopi Joss is best enjoyed with Nasi Kucing (small portion of rice with side dishes), Gorengan (fritters), and a few sticks of satay.
Despite being known as a local Yogyakarta beverage, Kopi Joss was actually pioneered by a trader from Klaten in Central Java known as Lik Man, whose shop can be found right next to Tugu train station. The word on the street is that Kopi Joss started to gain traction between the 1960s and the 1980s. Due to its capability of keeping its consumers wide awake after a drink or two, Kopi Joss was commonly drank by those who worked at the station during that era – from security guards, mechanics and janitors to the train operators. It is because of this very attribute – given the term “ngejoss” by the locals – that Lik Man’s coffee became known as Kopi Joss.
There’s not much difference to its method of preparation compared to other coffee drinks, which involves placing the coffee powder inside a cup, followed by sugar and hot water. What makes it special is the addition of burning charcoal, which is taken from a recently lit Anglo (traditional oven). It is then tapped a few times to get rid of the cinders and ashes so that it is clean enough to dunked inside the coffee. You can order Kopi Joss to your preference, whether it is without sugar or with a dose of sweetened condensed milk.
The thought of immersing a piece of glowing coal into one’s drink could get you to question its hygiene and side effects from drinking it. Well, fret not as carbon compounds do possess beneficial characteristics for us human beings. A charcoal that is subjected to heat over 250 degrees Celsius is transformed into an active carbon that keeps in pollutants and poisonous extracts. It helps in reducing coffee grounds, enhance the aroma of the coffee, and keeping toxins at bay. Some people also believe that Kopi Joss could cure gastric, stomach ache, and poisoning, relieve sleepiness, and enhance one’s stamina.
American news media CNN reported a research by medical director Kent Olson from the California Poison Control System in San Francisco against the use of charcoal in the world of medicine. He stated that active charcoal has been used since the olden days to alleviate digestive problems as it contains sorbitol that functions as a laxative and a natural toxin absorbent that would later be flushed out of the digestive system.
That should take your worries away before you drink that cup of Kopi Joss.