I just love the element of suspense when I spot newspaper being plastered on the front window of a shop obviously under construction or renovation. How about you?
My ‘radar for potential’ automatically goes up…and the following thoughts come to mind…’what if’, ‘imagine’, ‘I wonder’, ‘if only’…so I keep watch…I feel something special might be coming. And so it was on Jl. Terogong Raya in November 2013. After watching this tiny site for more than a month, then without any fanfare the newspaper was ripped down en masse akin to unwrapping a giant gift, and the words BLESS nature’s best in red, white and black were stamped on the front door.
It was Gino Korompis (person in charge) who created this interest and intrigue, and ensured as a potential customer I felt a part of it all; like I’d accompanied him on his journey from construction phase to welcoming his first customer. This happened well before Jo and I entered the blogging world and together with our combined interest in healthy eating, we started to search for the scoop on the next ‘healthy food cafe.’
When that time came, Gino Korompis was on our list of people we wanted to meet.
Settle in, as Gino shares his raw food story which began well before the newspaper went up on his bright yellow shopfront.
*Kenalkan Gino Korompis
What is your role in BLESS nature’s best?
I am the owner and founder.
Where did the idea and inspiration come from to start a raw almond milk cafe?
I first time came up with the idea for this business after several personal experiences. The main experience was health issues I was experiencing while I was living in the US. The idea for a healthy food business was fostered there. I was living in New York at the time then moved to LA, where there was a raw, clean food movement going on. I learned about raw foods in LA from my friends who were all healthy food eaters. I’m a big believer in the benefits of raw food consumption.
The idea for a raw almond milk cafe developed further in Jakarta. Jakarta was really missing quality foods. It was not a priority, and needed a lot of work. I love the energy of Jakarta, but there are a lot of things that can make you sick, the pollution for example.
We started with almond milk. In Jakarta, we could see businesses were beginning to make and sell healthy food, but they were marketing it in a way that didn’t appeal to people’s tastes.
Indonesians generally don’t believe healthy food is tasty. Good for you, yes, but having no taste. We wanted to promote our products as part of a lifestyle choice. We are one of the first almond milk suppliers and cafes in Jakarta and we want to encourage people to be healthy, and to eat healthy with natural, raw produce.
Why the name BLESS nature’s best?
We chose the name ‘Bless’ because that is what we want for people, ‘to be blessed with good health’. Our logo including the red apple symbolises the raw produce we use and the heart is a symbol of the blessing of good health which we wish for our customers.
Why this location?
We wanted a neighbourhood shop in this area, because it met with our potential clientele living in the Pondok Indah area.
What are the health benefits of eating raw food?
Certain foods when properly prepared raw are beneficial in their own way. They are fresh, full of undamaged vitamins and also still contain enzymes and biophoton light energy; so they are good for your body.
What are the health benefits of almonds?
Almonds are rich in mono saturated fats and have been shown to be helpful in keeping cholesterol levels within healthy range. They’re also effective prebiotics, feeding the bionics in your gut, and they help support a robust immune system. Almonds, like all nuts are good sources of the antioxidant Vitamin E, which may play a role in slowing cognitive decline with age. Almond milk is also an alkaline drink with a good ph and no acidity.
Who is the BLESS nature’s best customer?
Bless customers are all ages, and our almond milk customers are predominantly female. We have a large number of teenage girls and boys who come from the nearby International school, they are smoothie drinkers. They arrive in groups most afternoons when school finishes after 2:30pm.
Generally our customers come from the local area as well as further afield. They are cyclists, runners, Yogis and Pilates enthusiasts, locals, kids and families from the nearby high-rise apartments and local schools.
We know that almond milk production requires strict hygiene and food handling processes. Can you share your almond milk production processes?
We have 12 staff. That includes kitchen staff, bar staff and delivery staff. We have an emphasis on hygiene, particularly how to work with raw food, food handling and delivery. We maintain these standards by training staff here on site. The hiring procedure is unique also. We train people who come from the hospitality industry, but they have never had experience working with raw food before. We ensure they are trained to the highest standards.
Our almond milk is made fresh daily, it has no preservatives and it must be kept cold. It lasts refrigerated for 3 days and it can also be frozen for 7 days. We ensure our customers know this.
We love your drinks menu and the choice of almond milk, coconut water smoothies and cold pressed juices. How was the menu chosen?
It was chosen following the market, and the interests of the market. We didn’t want to introduce anything too heavy. We wanted to educate our customers showing them seasonal produce, and as much as possible using local fruits and vegetables in our smoothies and juices. The bananas we use are always local. Usually when people come to the shop after a Pilates or Yoga class they like something light and hydrating so they choose our coconut water smoothie. Almond milk smoothie is always the first choice for our new customers.
We also love the smoothie accompaniment choices on offer such as kalian, red ginger and matcha. What are your customer’s favourite extras?
Their favourites are:
What are your top 4 best-selling smoothies?
Stawnana – Strawberry and banana
Banblue -Banana blueberry
Baberries -Banana mixed berries
Pinanaberry – Pineapple, banana, strawberries
Number 1 coconut water smoothie?
Pineapple, orange and kale
What about wheatgrass? We are loving that too…thrown down quickly, with a grimace on our faces, followed by a quick suck of the wedge of orange you offer…it must be good for you, right?
It’s very good for you! Mostly women enjoy our wheatgrass shots and parents bring their kids here for their dose of vitamins and minerals, which is equal to 1 kg of green leafy vegetables. Our wheatgrass is fresh. We are using only organic wheat grain and we plant it ourselves. It’s a whole natural process.
The kelapa or coconut is the perfect tropical raw food treat. How can it be purchased?
People can choose from either the young coconut or the green coconut. The green coconut is better for detoxing and the young coconut is best for hydrating after exercise. We serve the coconut water straight from the coconut or we can pour the coconut water into a pouch for you to take home.
Do you use special juicing machines? Yes! we use the Omega low-speed juicer for the cold pressed juices and the Vitamix for the almond and coconut water smoothies. The Vitamix is a very durable, high rpm blender that can blend a range of raw products. We use these machines in the cafe because they keep the vitamins and minerals from the fruit and vegetables at high levels, that way we can provide the best for our customers. We sell them both in the Minimart.
We also like to browse the Mini-Mart while we are waiting for our smoothies. How would you describe the Minimart? What can new customers find there at the moment?
This small section of the cafe compliments the cafe. It is consistent with the health brand, so we sell healthy products such as: shampoos, cleaners and bees-wax candles, Himalayan salt, grains, tamari, quinoa, raw chocolate, nut butter, vegetable noodles and apple cider vinegar. We are now stocking these organic products: maple syrup, shoyu, apple sauce, coconut flour, diced figs, prunes and Dr. Bronner’s Bar in rose, lavender and baby mild.
We also have a fresh food section. Our freshly made mixed salad with Italian dressing which can be eaten in or taken away, and the pesto/cashew dip, is perfect to take away and have accompanied with vegetable crudités.
Can you share with us the food safety requirements of producing and storing nut milks and their products?
We take this very seriously. We had staff from the Food Department come to inspect our processes, give certification and test the raw products. We have a licence from the Department of Health.
We’ve seen an increasing trend in people drinking almond milk and healthy, low sugar juices in Jakarta – is the trend increasing?
Social media is fuelling this trend, and more and more Indonesian people have the purchasing power to buy healthily. We also see a greater awareness of diseases affecting people under 40, and a desire to eat well. So the trend is increasing.
3 words to describe your Jakarta
Your top 3 recommended places to take visitors in Jakarta?
1000 Islands – Tiger Island
Restaurants at Pantai Indah Kapuk
For seafood – Pantai Mutiara, Pluit
BLESS nature’s best
Jl Terogong Raya
In the Hero Complex
Gedung Pertokoan Cilandak
Kav. 28 Unit 7
If you are in the area, be sure to pop in and say hello to Gino’s fabulous team and try one of their healthy raw treats. They are a very cool bunch!
Until next week…
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Market Feature #4: Pasar Modern – Bintaro’s Fresh Produce Market
Words: Liz Photography: a journey bespoke and Nita Strudwick Photography
*Kenalkan: Let me introduce