Yoshua Tanu greets me with a warm smile one particularly bustling Friday afternoon at his speciality coffee shop, Common Grounds Roastery.
Indonesia’s barista champion, Yoshua is exceptionally humble considering the success he has had in his career so far. After just five years in the business, this Jakarta born, US-educated entrepreneur has numerous coffee related accolades under his belt and co-owns and runs three of the city’s leading third wave coffee shops in Common Grounds, Chronicle and St. ALi, a franchise from Melbourne. We catch up for a brew or two and a chat about Jakarta’s thriving independent coffee scene.
What got you first interested in coffee?
My fascination with coffee started as curiosity in our first café that we opened. Coffee was one of those things that grew on me every day as I encountered it. It’s still growing on me today with my expanding knowledge and experience; in fact it’s more of a passion now. There’s something about coffee that is addictive and intriguing. I always want to learn more; more about different origins and farms and how to perfect a cup of coffee.
Do you drink coffee on a daily basis?
Yes! About four to five espressos a day.
We know that you were crowned Indonesian Barista Champion and you competed in the World Barista competition. What did the competition entail?
The Indonesian Barista Championship (IBC) and the World Barista Championship (WBC) both look out for two main aspects in coffee making. Technique and sensory (taste) are judged based on the knowledge and skill of a barista. These two aspects are judged through twelve different drinks; four espressos, four milk-based drinks, and four signature beverages. These coffee beverages are judged by four sensory judges (for the taste), one technical judge (for the technique), and one head judge (for the overall outcome). The goal as a barista competitor is to produce the best possible cup to present to the judges! Sensory judges will look out for the taste balance, flavour profiles, and mouth feel of the coffee that you serve. Technical judges will look out for consistency and accuracy of coffee-making skills in a barista.
What makes a good or bad cup of coffee?
Since coffee is subjective, I personally think that it’s all about balance. If something tastes wrong from aroma to finish, then there is a good chance it might be. If a coffee tastes pleasant from aroma to finish, then most probably it’s pretty good.
The coffee scene is really buzzing in Indonesia at the moment. What happened?
The scene for coffee in Indonesia in general has really been buzzing for the past two years now. A lot of this is due to the increased awareness of speciality coffee and what good coffee is. The growing middle income sector are looking for more quality products in F&B nowadays.
Australia currently owns the leading speciality coffee scene in the world and I hope that one day Indonesia can also be up there, but there is still a lot of improvement that needs to be done in educating the market about speciality coffee.
What’s your “pet hate” when it comes to ordering a coffee in a café?
My pet hate is when there is a lack of interaction from a barista. A lot of baristas are shy and that needs to be changed. I would love to know more about the coffee and how it was made so that I can understand what I am enjoying.
What is trending in the world of coffee at the moment?
Currently, new innovative coffee machine tools and grinders are trending around the world of coffee. As from the coffee side, we are seeing a lot more experimental farms that are trying new processes to achieve the best out of a coffee.
Is it true that we should all be drinking Arabica coffee and Robusta is terribly bad for you? Explain!
For now, it’s true that we should be drinking Arabica coffees as these beans create more flavours than their Robusta counterparts. The amount of sugar in Arabica doubles that in Robusta. This is due to the higher elevation that Arabicas are grown in. However, if you are looking for caffeine kicks only, Robusta has double the amount of caffeine as Arabica, but unfortunately, for now at least, Arabica still lacks in variety and taste.
Which country’s coffee beans do you love the most? Why?
I love the wonderful aroma and flavours of Panaman and African beans for black or espresso coffees. Indonesian and Brazilian beans are great for milk coffees because they give a classic milk chocolate flavour.
Tell us about Common Grounds and Chronicle. Why should we go and when?
Common Grounds is a place where you can enjoy great coffee; we always serve at the highest quality from crop (farm) to cup. On top of that, we have also tried to create and innovate the best brunch to accompany these great coffees! Chronicle is a place where you can relax and enjoy coffee cocktails when you haven’t had enough coffee during the day.
What’s next for you?
I think in the future I would love to work on and own a coffee farm one day. It would give me total control of the coffee that I want to serve. But for now, I still want to focus on serving the best cup that I can as a barista.
Common Grounds Jakarta
Multiple Locations, one in Citywalk Sudirman, Jl. KH Mas Mansyur No. Kav 121
Central Jakarta 10250
Phone: +62 21 2555 8963