Caffeine free: A coffee lover sips from a saucer of grape coffee, made of grape powder.
While Indonesia is not a wine producing country like Europe, it still boasts a small town in East Java that produces a powder extracted from grapes to make a drink that tastes like coffee.
Moedayat, 36, a resident of Pandaan, Pasuruan regency, was busy washing black grapes from the nearby town of Jember. He squeezed them to get the juice while the waste would later be processed into powder.
“Initially I only made grape juice from the fruits. But then I tried to recycle the waste, processing it into some kind of beverage because I didn’t want to add to the waste that was already piling up in my house,” he told The Jakarta Post.
Moediyat dried the grape waste under the sun and then fried it without oil, which produced a pleasant smell like the aroma of coffee beans roasted using a firewood stove. The waste was then pounded and transformed into black powder.
Add a little powder into a glass, mix it with sugar, pour some hot water, and voila, here is your instant coffee.
“Locals call it grape coffee, because it tastes like coffee. But it does not have caffeine,” said Moedayat, who started to make grape coffee in February 2009.
Finished product: Bottles of grape juice from squeezed grapes are on display in a local supermarket.
In a month, Moedayat processes 500 kilograms of black, red and green grapes sent from various areas in East Java like Jember, Banyuwangi, Pasuruan and Kediri. He can produce between 50 and 100 kilograms of grape coffee and between 1,000 and 5,000 240-milliliter bottles of grape juice.
“I have secured a license from the Health Agency for my products and for the time being I send most of them to Central and West Java. There is a high demand from Singapore, Africa and Europe, but I cannot export them because of financial constraints,” he said.
Moedayat has recently earned an innovation product award from PT HM Sampoerna for his grape coffee, which impressed many people during the Sampoerna Expo 2009 in Gunting village, Sukorejo district.
He was proud to say that Indonesia could now process grapes into a non-alcoholic drink, which is different from wine in general.
Petrus Rizki, a grape coffee fan from Surabaya, agreed that it was as good as coffee and tasted great even without sugar. After drinking the grape coffee, he felt fresh because grapes are rich with antioxidants.
Pressing hard: After being washed, the grapes are then squeezed for the juice.
Culinary expert William W. Wongso once said, “Enjoying wine is like enjoying a painting of various movements.” True, a real wine fan can tell a lot from a wine by observing the blend of colors, taste and different aromas, which produce a different “sensation” for the drinker.
Some studies suggest that a certain amount of wine is good for one’s health but the wine drinking remains controversial among Muslims because of the alcohol content.
On the other hand, coffee, which at the beginning was used by some African tribes as medicine, is quite popular among Indonesians as well as many other nations around the world.
In Bangka Belitung province, for example, many people visit coffee shops every day. No wonder the Indonesian Record Museum called Belitung the city of 1,001 coffee shops.
“I am not a smoker, but I always drink coffee every morning and evening. I have done it for years since I was a teenager,” Achmad Dofir, 43, a Belitung resident, told the Post.
Health experts have warned about the danger of coffee for people with a heart or kidney condition, hypertension, as well as for pregnant women.
But apparently, the warning does not apply to Moedayat’s grape coffee.
— Photos by Indra Harsaputra