Nathalia Gunawan Founder of 1/15 Coffee

It’s 9:30 am when I arrive at 1/15 Coffee, South Jakarta.

Three young mums each with a toddler in tow are sipping fresh juice and the kids have milkshakes. The mums are chatting and watching over their children as they spread out on the long trestle tables with their coloured pencils and colouring books. Two University students with their laptops, textbooks and study papers are sipping iced coffee drinks, two women online are joined by a friend for juice and a chat, and a young woman uses the trestle table space to work and enjoy her milky coffee. 1/15 Coffee is buzzing!

Over on the counter sit Morph coffee beans ready to take home, and a variety of cakes look tempting under glass domes. There is upbeat music playing, but not loud enough to block the creative work going on here this morning.

There’s great attention to detail – from the beautifully crafted timber tables, chairs and stools, to the black and brown aprons worn over the Barista’s white muscle T-Shirts. I love the concrete floors, crisp white walls, vertical timber panelling and large picture windows.

The space is airy, light and reminds me of a Sydney or Melbourne cafe.

I’m very curious to meet the owner of 1/15 Coffee, Nathalia Gunawan. I have a hunch we will share a love of good coffee, and buzzing community spaces.

My time spent with Nathalia reinforces my prediction. Nathalia is passionate about good coffee, starting with quality beans, and processes that educate local farmers on technique and sustainability.

In my mind,1/15 Coffee is much more than a cafe. It is a community space where good coffee and a place for good conversation meet. Nathalia shared with me her vision to develop a coffee culture in Jakarta to emulate that of Indonesia’s neighbouring country Australia.

Nathalia has realised her vision in this corner of Jakarta and has made a big contribution to the Jakarta coffee culture.

Kenalkan* Nathalia

Nathalia looking out of the 1/15 picture window

Please tell us a little about your background? Where did you grow up, live and study?
I was born in Jakarta, moved to Brisbane Australia in Year 9, lived and boarded there for school until Year 12, then moved to the United States, Indiana, to do Civil Engineering. I didn’t realise that Indiana was just as big as Brisbane. In the movies American cities are big cities.

Listening to English spoken with an Australian accent was tough in Brisbane. It was difficult to understand, and it made me feel homesick; but it was a very good experience. It was bitter but sweet. It shaped my character.

Were you a coffee drinker back then?
In the States I drank the sachet coffee, I had a fast heartbeat, So I had to stop. After living in the USA I moved back to Jakarta and worked for my Dad as an Interior Contractor. He mainly makes wooden furniture, but he also makes wooden furniture with glass and stainless steel.

Where did the inspiration for the name 1/15 Coffee come from?
I tried many names, but found 1/15 by looking through our coffee manual book. The 1:15 ratio is a well known coffee to water ratio that yields an ideal cup. For every gram of coffee you add 15 grams of water.

1/15 Coffee is a family project. My Dad has always wanted to own a furniture showroom, and this showroom (ground level of 1/15 Coffee) laid dormant for five years. We were busy on projects and didn’t have time to do anything with it.

When I visited Melbourne and saw the coffee culture there I wanted to have that coffee culture here. Above is an empty space ready for something and above that, is the interior contract office.

The One Fifteenth Coffee Sign
The One Fifteenth Coffee Sign – a landmark on Jl. Gandaria 1

Why this building and location?
1/15 Coffee opened two and a half years ago, in June 2012. We wanted to make it a business. Jakarta cafe culture and social media has helped us grow the business here.

We love the design of 1/15 Coffee – did you design it?
My sister Stephanie and brother in law David designed the interior

1/15 Coffee - Looking down at the morning
The sleek but inviting 1/15 Coffee interior – Looking down at the morning activity

Where did your inspiration come from? Why a cafe?
I always thought I couldn’t do furniture forever, and I wanted to diversify. This concept could be replicated anywhere in the world if I wanted to do it again.

We love your coffee. Where do the beans come from?
From everywhere! We want people to experience good beans from everywhere. They are specialty grade. Eko our grower has a plantation in Bandung and Sulawesi and works with the farmers, and he teaches them clean processes. Change is hard, and it can take many months for the local farmers to change their practices and learn new ones. Eko exports beans to the USA and Australia and other parts of the world.

Where do you roast?
Our roaster is on Jl. Radio Dalam, just up the road. The roaster is called Morph Coffee

You mentioned 1/15 was a family project?
Yes, it looks like this:

Aunty Angela – makes the Indonesian food in the cafe
Cousin Malinda – we use her eggs from her farm
Dad – the cafe furniture maker
Sister and brother in law – Stephanie and David designed the cafe space
Mum – she loves being in the cafe, she’s the boss

3 personal favourites on the 1/15 menu?
Cold drip coffee brew – Rock Java Lime
Poached eggs

We started with traditional Indonesian food then we extended. Arnold Purnomo was the person who set up the menu for us. He worked at ‘Bills’ in Sydney. Arnold is also a current MasterChef Indonesia Judge.

Friendly 1/15 staff

Can you tell us how you see Jakarta coffee culture evolving?
Anomali Coffee started the coffee culture in Jakarta. Then specialty coffee started growing about a year ago. Indonesians love coffee, but they like it strong, thick, bitter, sometimes milk, and always with sugar. Mainly 20-40 year olds drink coffee at this cafe, but also a wide age group of customers. People who come here from Australia, they want to drink the same type of coffee as they drink in their home country, and have the same lifestyle as well.

We’ve been following 1/15 Coffee on Instagram and see you hold a variety of classes here. Can you tell us about them?
Yes, upstairs on level 2. We have Manual Coffee Brewing Classes. People can learn skills about grinding and brewing. We also have an Introduction to Espresso class.

Home or fashion trends you are following this year?
I love white in clothes and khakis
Scandinavian design is my favourite for the house

Can you list 3 resources that you turn to regularly for creative inspiration?
My sister and brother in law Stephanie and David – I’m hooked on their design
Monocle Design Magazine

What does a typical day involve for you?
I come here for coffee to start the day
Work upstairs in the office
Come down to the cafe to eat and meet people
I leave between 5:00pm – 6:00pm. This is the norm.

The 1/15 Cappuccino

2 words to describe your Jakarta

Book you are reading at the moment?
I read everything from trashy mags to books on my Kindle. I read everything and I collect books.

Magazines you are reading?

Any Tips for New Expats arriving in Jakarta?
Find a good activity. Find your passion – you will be able to find it here in Jakarta.
Travel around Indonesia.

Favourite places to eat in Jakarta after 1/15?
AW Kitchen By Akira Watanabe, serves Japanese and Italian in Plaza Senayan.
Kaihomaru in Blok M serves Japanese. It has great sashimi, and it’s good quality.

Favourite coffee in Jakarta? We know that answer! Which blend, or original origin?
Get Lucky blend. Lucky our Barista used that blend in a barista competition in Jakarta, hence the name.

Favourite place to take the children in Jakarta?
Plaza Senayan because it’s comfortable.
Gymnastics in Senayan complex. I want my kids as much as possible to be active.

1/15 Coffee
Jl. Gandaria 1, No. 63
Jakarta Selatan 12130
Instagram: 115coffee
Twitter: @115coffee

*Kenalkan: let me introduce
Words: Liz Photography: 1/15 Coffee



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