Two bags of Excelso coffee beans and a cup of coffee
You can even buy home packs of the finest coffee beans produced by Excelso Coffee. (Photo Credit: Nimas Norma)

Indonesia, Coffee, and Excelso Coffee

Nowadays, the big coffee chains such as Starbucks are easily found in most malls in Indonesia. Which is understandable, because coffee has become part of a lifestyle for millennials in Indonesia. We love to socialize with friends and family while drinking coffee and eating delicious food!

But is it true that the coffee lifestyle was introduced in Indonesia by chains like Starbucks? Well, actually, coffee was originally introduced in Indonesia by the Dutch during colonial times. The first coffee beans were planted in the time of Dutch VOC Governor-General Willem van Outhoorn in Batavia (modern Jakarta) as an experiment. Even now the plantation area for coffee beans is called Pondok kopi which literally translates to ‘coffee settlement’. When the experiment succeeded, the Dutch then developed more coffee plantations on other islands in Indonesia such as Sumatra, Bali, and Sulawesi.

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Adapting to the local climate and soil, each coffee bean planted has an authentic and unique taste. Some of those unique and famous coffee beans originally from Indonesia are Luwak coffee, Sumatra coffee, and Toraja coffee. Being aware of the unique taste of the local coffee beans of Indonesia, and of the growing market of the upper middle-class society coffee lover, PT. Santos Jaya Abadi created a coffee bean brand named Excelso. It’s one of the first companies in Indonesia that offers coffee beans rather than only ground coffee.

What Excelso Coffee Is All About

Excelso believes that the best way to enjoy coffee is when it’s freshly ground before being served. Since only the upper society in Indonesia can afford a coffee grinder machine in their kitchen, in 1991 Excelso opened its restaurants and cafes to support the marketing and distribution of their coffee beans.

Excelso Coffee Cafe in Kota Kasablanka Mall Jakarta, Indonesia
A visit to an Excelso Coffee Cafe, like this one in Kota Kasablanka Mall Jakarta, Indonesia is a must. (Photo Credit: Jessica Evangeline)

In an Excelso Coffee restaurant, you can enjoy fresh coffee from several varieties of beans, like Kopi Lanang Toraja. The soft and exotic Luwak Coffee contains 100% Arabica beans. The medium-bodied  Sumatra Mandheling has a spice and floral undertone. Or do you prefer a sweet and aromatic coffee? Then try the Java Arabica. It is a rustic full-bodied coffee, yet rounded with chocolate undertones.

If you love strong coffee, don’t miss a cup of Kalosi Toraja, which is harvested from the coffee plantation in Rante Karua, Tana Toraja. It is a full-bodied deep and earthy blend with spices and burnt sienna which will leave you with a pleasant aftertaste. Kalosi Toraja is also one of the recommended local coffees.

If you want to try coffee beans from outside of Indonesia, Excelso Coffee restaurants have several choices for you such as the crispy, light-bodied Jamaican Blue Mountain with a tangy aftertaste, or the smooth and tantalizing Brazilian Santos and Colombian Supremo which have medium strengths, sweet tastes, and a delightful aromas.

What makes the coffee at Excelso Coffee restaurants even more special, however, is that you can choose how you want your coffee brewed. Options include machine pressed, coffee pressed (with a French pressed machine/plunger), or syphon-brewed which lets you enjoy watching your coffee dripping in front of you when they serve it.

Syphon brew Luwak coffee, French Press Kalosi Toraja Coffee, and Avocado Coffee at Excelso Coffee
Syphon brew Luwak coffee (Photo Credit: Irma Tjandra), French Press Kalosi Toraja Coffee, and Avocado Coffee (Photo Credit: Jessica Evangeline)—just some of your Excelso Coffee options.

Are you not a fan of black coffee? Don’t worry, Excelso Coffee restaurants have other delightful choices for you such as iced coffee, café latte (hot/iced), café Mocha (hot/iced), Sunda Kelapa Float, Ultimate Frappio, and many more. Be sure not to miss out on their signature drink, the Avocado Coffee. It’s made from fresh avocado, premium vanilla ice cream, coffee, and sprinkled with shaved chocolate. But I warn you, once you taste it you’ll be craving more!

Is Excelso Coffee the Next Starbucks?

Being aware that social activity in restaurants and cafes is becoming part of the lifestyle for millennials in Indonesia, Excelso Coffee Restaurants have also started offering a main course menu besides their drinks to keep their customers staying longer. There is a breakfast menu, food to share (such as nachos, banana wraps, cheese crust, fried potatoes, etc.), and sandwiches and pastas. After 25 years of growing, Excelso Coffee now has (at the time of writing) opened 126 restaurants and cafes in more than 30 cities in Indonesia. Meaning you can just as easily find an Excelso Coffee in the many big malls around Indonesia as you can a Starbucks.

So will it be the next Starbucks?

​In the Indonesian market, Excelso is on the same page or even bigger than its competitor. But Excelso Coffee needs to convince the international market and work harder if they really want to chase Starbucks and its international success.

If you want to go for an authentic, local coffee with a premium way of serving and delicious food, instead of visiting a big international coffee chain, head to an Excelso Coffee restaurant when you are traveling in Indonesia. Or, at the very least, go hunting for the coffee bean collections of Excelso in the Indonesian supermarket and introduce it to your kitchen.

Have you ever tried Excelso Coffee?


Pack Your Bags

Good News: All days are summer days in Indonesia due to its location right at the equator line. So it has a tropical climate and sun that appears throughout the whole year. But Indonesia does have two seasons: the dry season and the rainy season. The dry season starts in April and runs to September, while the rainy season starts in October and runs to March.

Be aware that there are three time zones in Indonesia:

  • Islands in the west part of the country such as Java, Sumatra, West Borneo, and Center Borneo are called WIB (Waktu Indonesia Barat) and follow UTC+07:00.
  • Islands in the middle part of the country such as Sulawesi, North Borneo, South Borneo, East Borneo, Bali, Lombok, Nusa Tenggara, Komodo Island, etc. are called WITA (Waktu Indonesia Tengah) and follow UTC+08:00.
  • Islands in the east part of the country such as Maluku (Moluccas) and Papua are called WIT (Waktu Indonesia Timur) and follow UTC+09:00.



Getting There

Since Indonesia consists of thousands of islands, there are several international airports. The two main, international airports are Soekarno-Hatta (CGK) in the capital city of Jakarta, and I Gusti Ngurah Rai (DPS) on Bali island.



Don’t Miss

Indonesia really does have something for everyone. Explore the famous Bali islands and you’ll find out why it’s called paradise! Visit the magnificent Budha temple of Borobudur in Central Java and you will experience tranquility and peace. Hunt the sunrise from the wonderful mount Bromo in East Java for a moment you’ll never forget. You can visit Bunaken and Raja Ampat if you love snorkling or diving, where you will see exotic coral and sea creatures. And don’t miss the Komodo Island if you want to see the giant lizard—the Komodo dragon.

Are you a fan of spooky stories? Don’t miss the Ma’nene ceremony in Tana Toraja, Sulawesi where the Toraja tribes honor their ancestors by taking their corpse from the stone grave, clean them, and dress them up just as if they were still alive!

Moreover, try the local delicacies such as Rendang, Bakso, Es Teler, Es Cendol, and Nasi Goreng. Also try the exotic fruits of Durian, Nangka (Jackfruit), Manggis (Mangosteen), Buah Naga (Dragon Fruit), Kelengkeng (Longans), Rambutan, Srikaya (Sugar Apple), Belimbing (Star Fruit), and Fresh Coconut.



Further Information

Visit the Indonesian tourism board: Wonderful Indonesia.

If you want to book your local train: PT. Kereta Api Indonesia.


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About Nimas Norma

Nimas is a flower and cat lover who comes from the multi-ethnic country of Indonesia. She loves to travel and trying local dishes. Favourites – Wienerschnitzel, Belgian Stoofvlees, Dutch Pannenkoeken, and Rendang from Indonesia.


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One Response to "Excelso Coffee: Feeding Indonesia’s Coffee Addiction"

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