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Coffee and Pluralism
Posted by Itha Priyastiti on 18th Agustus 2018
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Robusta of Sumba made by Heinrich Dengi – the heavenly beverage

MaxFM, Waingapu – After long and tiring weeks, there is nothing more exciting than spending the weekend with coffee. I was overtly thrilled when Bung Heinrich Dengi, a coffee enthusiast, offered me to join him for a cup of drink I call heavenly beverage.




As always, while taking my first sip, I felt a sense of relief; the feeling of comfort; and of course, happiness. Heinrich asked me, “how’s it?” I spontaneously said, “It’s really good, as always! Did you buy it online?” The reason I asked the question is simply because I (think I) know that the coffee you find in Sumba is not as pleasurable as Aceh Gayo or Toraja Sapan coffee in taste.
Heinrich’s answer startled me. Not because he said that the coffee I was having at that moment was in fact Robusta grown in Sumba, but recognizing that I enjoy every sip drinking the coffee variant I (thought I) disliked. What a slap on the face.

Honestly, I have monthly budget for coffee and I spend it on Arabica of various kinds; Aceh Gayo, Mandailing, Toraja Sapan, Flores Bajawa, you name it! If you ask me why I didn’t spend pennies on Robusta, I will simply answer that I didn’t like the variety because it is bitter; less popular; and to make my reason even more promising, most reviews mention that Arabica is better than Robusta.

Enjoying Robusta of Sumba that Heinrich made today gave me a moment of thinking.

I realize now that I have marginalized Robusta and labeled it negatively because (I thought) majority coffee drinkers are on the Arabica side. It appears that I have been standing on the majority side! I have been mistreated Robusta as the minority and denied its “virtue”.

I thought I was a pluralist, those who celebrate differences. It turns out that I have been unfair in perceiving heterogeneity. This evening is not my first time enjoying Robusta but I have been a denial and blinded not to acknowledge the delightful feeling while sipping it. There was an absence for room to appreciate the minor(ity) variety just because I was too naïve to judge coffee from one perspective.

Apparently, I forgot that taste is not a single feature to make “good” coffee. Beloved company, warm conversation, and of course a willingness to be open-minded are (only) three of many other ingredients that make coffee is enjoyable.

Proudly proclaim myself as a coffee addict, I have always put Arabica on top of Robusta. Is it a problem? No, it is not because taste is personal, right? It is perfectly fine when one has a specific preference. It becomes a problem when you deny the goodness of others just because you want to be “on-trend” and follow only the perception of the majority.

A cup of Robusta this evening is an eye opener. I frequently felt upset when reading news about intolerance issues in this country, I blamed the majority; all because I put myself on the minority side. Being aware that I come from a minority group grew the feeling of frustrated; quite frequent, anger, thinking we have been treated wrong. But look at me now; standing on the majority side of Arabica drinker. I mistreated Robusta!

Lesson learned? When you are on the majority side, it is always easier to disregard the minority; you are prone to the feeling of superior; proud to have the sense of supremacy. In terms of coffee? Each variant has its beauty in taste. If in the end you will have one preference over another, that is perfectly okay; but stop giving negative stereotype on those you dislike.



My advice, don’t follow my action of foolishly believing the majority reviews about particular coffee bean variants. Take chances to try all!
You will not find bitterness, lack of acidity, or any negative remarks of coffee. There are only love, warmth, and compassion!

Still in the spirit of celebrating 17th of August, let me wish a happy birthday to Indonesia, a country blessed with varying beliefs; ethnicities; languages; and of course, coffee variants.

Side notes:
Do you know that Robusta of Sumba was voted as the best coffee in Indonesia? Be proud!
Kopi Sumba Terenak se-Indonesia

Dirgahayu Indonesia!

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