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Jakarta Post

Who really owns the word ‘kopitiam’?

  • Lutfi Rakhmawati

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Mon, February 27 2012   /  08:00 am

People from Sumatra, Singapore or Malaysia may raise their eyebrows after hearing that an Indonesian restaurateur has the intellectual rights to the word kopitiam.

Kopitiam, a generic word for a coffee stall, is a legacy of the Peranakan Cina, or Chinese who migrated to Malay-speaking lands.

In terms of gourmands, the word is a portmanteau of kopi, which means coffee in Malay, and tiam, which is Hokkien Chinese for shop or stall.

Older Peranakan Cina and those seeking inexpensive and hearty food have flocked to kopitiam in Malaysia and Singapore.

Kopitiam are wildly popular in several parts of Indonesia, as well, including North Sumatra, South Sumatra, West Sumatra, Riau Islands and some areas in Kalimantan.

In recent years, kopitiam have sprung up in big cities across the nation — such as Jakarta, Semarang, Central Java; and Surabaya, East Java ...