You won’t come across a single coffee plant in Belitung, yet you can find more than one kedai kopi (coffee shop) at every corner of the island – a stark contrast that can only be explained by the locals’ love for coffee and their daily routine of congregating with friends or family at a coffee shop.
Unlike your middle-of-the-road international coffee shop chains, the coffee joints here do not serve different types of frappes or cappuccinos; what you’ll be getting is a modest warung with a choice of either black coffee or milk coffee.
According to Ismen Holidi – owner of Warung Kopi Kong Djie, one of the most celebrated coffee shops in Tanjung Pandan – the people of Belitung began to fall in love with coffee during the time of the Dutch occupation. The Dutch soldiers would bring various coffee beans from Sumatra and subsequently introduced coffee as a beverage to the natives. This inadvertently led to the locals adopting coffee drinking as a habit that has lasted even to this day.
Most of the coffee that is consumed here comes from Lampung, as explained by Mr. Holidi. “The majority of the coffee shops in Belitung use Lampung robusta coffee beans. Although some may not recommend it for its high acidity levels, I believe that it could produce top-quality coffee at an affordable price when processed well,” he remarks.
Over on the eastern side of Belitung in the city of Manggar is an area that is known as Kampung Kopi, which literally means “Coffee Village”. As a town that has been nicknamed the “City of a 1001 Coffee Shops”, its multitude of kedai kopi has become a worthy tourist attraction that has rivalled its picturesque beaches.
The story behind Kampung Kopi began in the early 1980s when a few coffee shops were founded in this neck of the woods. At the time, their customer base mainly comprised tin miners. As time went by, the escalating demand for coffee led to the opening of even more similar establishments, which culminated in Manggar’s city government to develop Kampung Kopi as one of the city’s tourism destination after recognising its potential.
You can also read the story on The Jakarta Post: Discovering The Land of 1001 Coffee Shops.