Indonesia’s Best Beverages

Oct 1st, 2009, in IM Posts, Opinion, by

Quench your thirst, a survey of Indonesia's tastiest drinks and beverages.



While much attention is often devoted to its cuisine (and rightly so), Indonesia also has a very wide range of drinks that are similarly unique and worth discovering. (I have included Indonesian translations of each drink to help expats when reading menus).

Fruit Juices / Jus Buah

The large choice of tropical fruits in Indonesia and their often year-round availability makes fruit juices a yummy and nutiritious choice. Better places don't add sugar/sweetener or too much ice.

Warm Lime Juice / Jeruk Nipis Hangat

Warm Lime Juice This seemed an oddity when I first saw on it on the menu - "Why wouldn't it be served cold?" I thought - so I tried it. I was very pleasantly surprised; it was sweet, and the aftertaste felt great on my (then) sore throat. Highly recommended.

Mango Juice / Jus Mangga

My personal favourite. Unfortunately, it is one of the few Indonesian fruits that is seasonal, usually only available during the first half of the year. Mango Juice

Avocado Juice / Jus Alpukat

Avocado Juice This seems one of the more popular fruit juice drinks among locals, if its frequency on menus is any guide. It often comes with some artistically integrated chocolate condensed milk.

Strawberry Juice / Jus Stroberi

Another "only in Indonesia" drink that is both tasty and refreshing. Strawberry Juice

You might also consider:

Watermelon Juice / Jus Semangka

Melon Juice / Jus Melon

Watermelon Juice Melon Juice

Ice / Es

Innumerable roadside stalls/warung serve these drinks, often with small pieces of jelly. (Personally, I quite like the giant/fat straws that come with them, and take them home with me for rapid consumption of other beverages).

The most popular of these is:

Pop Ice

Pop Ice With a myriad of flavours, everyone is bound to find something they like. While some people mix the powder, water and ice by hand, it tastes better if blended by a machine, not shaken (or stirred). Some foreigners may object to having ice in their drink (i.e. they think that maybe the water is dirty), but I have never had any problems in the many provinces where I have drunk one.

You might also consider:

Es Awan Putih, Es Mega Mendung

These drinks are rather difficult to translate, particularly the latter. The former ("White Cloud Ice") is a combination of lemonade and condensed milk, creating something similar to an ice cream soda or spider, but with ice instead of ice cream. The second is with Coke, rather than lemonade. I quite like the former as it is tasty and refreshing. Mega Mendung

Hot Drinks

Ginger Tea / Wedang Jahe, Ginger With Hot Milk / Susu Jahe Panas

Ginger Tea Ginger tea, lime tea and many others are both available at many of the larger supermarkets, but it was only in Bondowoso, East Java that I discovered Ginger With Hot Milk. It is delicious and relaxing, and I find ginger is good for stomach, and the Discovery Channel show Mythbusters once found that ginger may be good for travel sickness.

And we must include a mention of one of Indonesia's most famous exports:

Civet Coffee / Kopi Luwak

Civet Coffee
Yummy!

Also known as "cat-poop coffee", local civets eat the coffee berries and ummmm.... egest the beans before they are collected, washed and roasted. Civet coffee goes for anything up to $US500 a pound, and according to Wikipedia is mostly exported to Japan and the USA.


What unique or special Indonesian drinks would you add to the list? Where can you recommend other readers can sample these quality beverages? (In my experience, drinks under Rp5000 at the local warung can be just as tasty as the Rp20 000 + ones in restaurants and cafes.)


26 Comments on “Indonesia’s Best Beverages”

  1. avatar tuwaga says:
    October 1st, 2009 at 11:43 am

    Teh botol

  2. avatar donny says:
    October 1st, 2009 at 12:56 pm

    don’t forget ES LEGEN …
    special drinks from east java … extracted from siwalan tree (kind of palm), tastes sweet but with unique taste

    ferment it for couple of days … it will contains alcohol – thus become TUAK (also tastes good), however – it should be kept clean … any contamination and your tuak will go sour

    recommended place to drink this : Warung Bandeng Bakar Pak Elan in Gresik (Romokalisari), better served cold with lots of ice, in bumbung (bamboo cylinder) and taken with SIWUR (traditional ladle made from coconut shell & bamboo stick)

  3. avatar Rob says:
    October 1st, 2009 at 1:07 pm

    Haha Teh Botol! I prefer Teh Kotak.

    Indonesia’s a brilliant place for drinks. Jus alpukat is one I’m not particularly fond of, but I like most others I’ve had. Never had the pleasure of drinking kopi luwak though.

  4. avatar Suryo Perkoso says:
    October 1st, 2009 at 1:29 pm

    Suryo’s sari apel ploes is the best.
    Terjamin eco.

  5. avatar Pakmantri says:
    October 1st, 2009 at 3:05 pm

    Bajigur, it is coffee with coconut milk and palm sugar and kolang-kaling, it is from west Java.
    Bandrek, This beverage is usually made of ginger and other ingredients such as cinnamon, star anise, cloves, coriander seeds, cardamom pods, lemongrass, Indonesian palm sugar, and chillies. Also from west Java, warming and very healthy drink, good for when you have a cold or in a cold day.
    Es dawet, from Solo.
    Es kopyor, main ingredient is a mutated coconut, very tasty.
    Es cincau, Drinking es cincau hijau is believed to give some good benefits for health because it has a cooling effect to the body especially during the hot days. It also contains of high fiber, can reduce high blood pressure and also good for sore throat.

    And many many more …………..

  6. avatar Andy says:
    October 2nd, 2009 at 2:54 am

    How about Bintang…

  7. avatar diego says:
    October 2nd, 2009 at 3:58 am

    How can we miss cendol?

  8. avatar Suryo Perkoso says:
    October 2nd, 2009 at 6:12 am

    @ Diego – Quite easily.
    @ Andy – well at least it doesn’t make your hair turn orange like it did years back.

    Wedhang Jahe, STMJ, but the most famous of all in East Java, Plothok.

  9. avatar Ric Atencia says:
    October 2nd, 2009 at 9:06 am

    Where in Indonesia could I taste an inexpensive Kopi Luwak?

  10. avatar diego says:
    October 2nd, 2009 at 10:42 pm

    I an my friend was chatting about the way indonesian eat outside, gak banyak gaya-gayaan, no formalities, langsung bungkus, wrap! That way we get the substance — tasty food — at a lower price.

    “Langsung pesen Sate Kambing Selap Gajih, Tongseng kambing, minumnya teh botol. Kemantapan segera. Gak pake banyak cingcong, langsung lezat.”

    Ha ha, I think I get an idea for a very cheesy name for a foodstall:

    “Langsung Lezat”.

    Or in the case of chinese food stall:

    MeiYouCingCong (not much ado).

    Hehe.

  11. avatar ET says:
    October 2nd, 2009 at 10:59 pm

    Nothing beats arakatak (arak attaque), arak mixed with honey and a zest of lemon.
    Banzai!

  12. avatar joao says:
    October 2nd, 2009 at 11:15 pm

    Goyobod Kiliningan (GoKil)

  13. avatar PrimaryDrive says:
    October 3rd, 2009 at 10:06 pm

    Also known as “cat-poop coffee”, local civets eat the coffee berries and ummmm…. egest the beans before they are collected, washed and roasted. Civet coffee goes for anything up to $US500 a pound, and according to Wikipedia is mostly exported to Japan and the USA.

    If you really think it comes out from fox’ dropping, you’re really an idiot :D If you ever been in pabrik kopi Luwak, you may notice the excessive number of toilets there….

  14. avatar tomaculum says:
    October 4th, 2009 at 12:19 pm

    What about:
    Sekoteng, Es campur, es shanghai, es teler, kopi jahe, es tapai/peuyeum etc, etc.

    Bir Bintang? Hmmm, it tastes like a lukewarm something excreted of a ……
    Bajigur? Indeed, at a cool night in Bandung (I’ve heard, that Bandung nowaday is very warm even in the night) with a beautiful girlfriend/handsom boyfriend beside, and “tahu berontak/tahu isi” or gorengan with it. Nggih, Pak Mantri .. :)

  15. avatar katadia says:
    October 4th, 2009 at 2:30 pm

    Es blewah, es timun suri, and kolak (particularly during Ramadhan)

    Bubur kacang ijo ketan item (hmm… not really a beverage)

    Es tebu

  16. avatar Brother Mouzone says:
    October 5th, 2009 at 1:45 pm

    The absence of ice cold Jus Sirsak is just criminal.

  17. avatar Hary says:
    October 5th, 2009 at 2:27 pm

    Nothing like Bandrek on a chilly Bandung evening.

    Cheap Luwak @ any Excelsior coffee chain.

    Don’t forget Soda Gembira. Soda + Milk+ Rose Syrup. Great on hot Bali afternoons.

  18. avatar David says:
    October 5th, 2009 at 9:22 pm

    I have no real opinion on the subject as I unadventerously just drink coke and sprite and when they’re not available es jeruk, yep don’t know what I’m missing etc, but I had a friend who was always singing the praises of Es Kelapa Muda…

  19. avatar Pena Budaya says:
    October 7th, 2009 at 8:08 pm

    I am crazy over Es Kopyor and Es Kelapa Muda as mentioned by PakMantri & Patung. BTW, Thailand has these beverages as well, so they are not only identical to Indonesia’s beverages..I bet Malaysia has these coconut ice too ;) I guess they are just typical tropical countries beverages..

  20. avatar Burung Koel says:
    October 9th, 2009 at 5:31 pm

    Bandrek with fresh pisan goreng in Aceh, just on the right hand side of the main road before you cross the bridge into town.

    Es jeruk nipis anywhere (also good with salt as well as sugar).

    And you can get kopi luwuk in a blend, which is considerably cheaper than the pure stuff, if you really want to try it. Can’t say I can taste the cat…

  21. avatar syonan says:
    October 18th, 2009 at 6:06 pm

    We must not forget teh hangat and es teh which is the main beverage in Indonesia.

  22. avatar silvestre says:
    October 19th, 2009 at 5:46 pm

    dont forget the specialties of Makassar: Es Pisang Ijo and Es Palu Butung. But ofc, Cendol, Kopyor, Teler, Campur are all damn tasty!

  23. avatar onesimpletech says:
    November 7th, 2009 at 5:53 am

    Delicious… make me wanna have some

  24. avatar Chris says:
    November 16th, 2009 at 1:37 pm

    Brother Mouzone: I followed up on your recommendation of Es Sirsak, and now I agree – excellent choice!

    Ric Atencia and Hary: If you’re in a large city in Indonesia, you can go to your local Di Excelsio where they are now selling Kopi Luak for Rp82 000 (maybe + 10% tax). Apparently, it’s now “in season”, whereas previously it was unavailable.

  25. avatar samina says:
    December 3rd, 2010 at 8:20 pm

    hello,
    I am in Islamabad Pakistan.i want to buy Pop ice milka shake powder to use in my cafe.kindly let me knw from where i can get it.

    Thanks.

  26. avatar Jamal says:
    January 26th, 2011 at 11:28 am

    DEAR SIR
    WHERE I CAN FIND INDONESIA BEST BEVERAGES IN NEW YORK CITY .



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