Although coffee milk has become popular among youngsters (thanks to Nescafe), most Javanese drink their coffee black because we live by this saying:
“Coffee should be black as hell, strong as death, and sweet as love.”
— Turkish proverb
We don’t know much about Turkish coffee; we’ve heard a lot about Turkish carpets. We drink our coffee black because dairy upsets our stomachs.
Another reason is because we’re conventional folks. Syrup and whipped cream and those confetti looking stuff on modern (ice) coffee are too colorful they make us dizzy.
We want our coffee black. But it will be boring to present it the way it is for eternity. Then came someone with a strange idea to dip a burning charcoal into hot coffee.
Later named “kopi jos”, the charcoal coffee is now a well known beverage in Jogja. You can find it at roadside traditional cafes around Stasiun Tugu. These angkringan, as locals call them, usually open at 5 pm, or later.
Pak Man, who has served countless glasses of charcoal coffee at his own angkringan, is said to be the son of the first creator of kopi jos. He took the business from his father in 1960s and has successfully attracted many customers.
The charcoal adds unique flavor, which is believed to help cure stomach related problems. Think of it as Norit in its primitive form.