Coffee as the Representation of Valuable and Substantial Item in Life in Filosofi Kopi

Kopi Toko Djawa at Jalan Braga, Bandung

At this moment in time, coffee becomes one element that cannot be separated for most people. We do many activities in our life and when the coffee is served to us, it can be an added value which can be very influential for our mood.

Thus, coffee isn’t just a drink or a sleepiness reliever, as what people say oftentimes. It can be known as a substance with various interpretations, depending on who means it.

“Kopi Tubruk itu kopi yang lugu, kopi yang sederhana, tapi, kalau kita mengenal dia lebih dalam, dia akan sangat memikat. Kopi Tubruk sama sekali tidak mempedulikan penampilan. Bikinnya pun gampang, tinggal diseduh. Tapi, tunggu sampai mas mencium aromanya.”

This is a quotation from a film in which one of its characters is always excited to associate each kind of coffee with every character of people. How a coffee is being depicted on a greater level exists in the film called Filosofi Kopi. This is a film released in 2015 created by Angga Dwimas Sasongko, adapted based on a Novel with the same title by Dee Lestari.

The story is about two friends, Ben and Jody, who have a coffee shop named Filosofi Kopi. Ben, as the main barista, is portrayed as a man who is obsessed with coffee. He believes that coffee really matters in his journey of life. Jody, his best friend, as well as his work partner, is the opposite of Ben. He does not care about all coffee-related things. He relies on coffee just for his support in life as he earns money from his work on coffee.

Here, coffee is meant as a substantial item and represented as something valuable for its characters. In addition, there are supporting characters that are shown as people who have their own story about coffee, too.

Ben spends his life by studying and brewing coffee. Coffee has been part of his life since he was a kid. He will do everything in his power to create the best cup of coffee. He is willing to spend much money just to get the best coffee bean. His obsession with coffee brings him to a perspective that every coffee has its own philosophy. The meaning of life and each characteristic of person can be known just in a cup of coffee, as he said about Cappuccino to his consumers:

“Cappuccino itu kopi yang genit. Ketebalan dan tekstur foam harus presisi. Butuh standar penampilan yang tinggi. Cappuccino harus terlihat seindah mungkin karena Cappuccino adalah kopi yang cocok untuk orang yang suka keindahan sekaligus kelembutan.”

His passion for coffee also influences him to take actions. There was a time Ben was challenged by an investor, who likes to travel around the world just for coffee, to get 100 million Indonesian Rupiah if he could make the best house blend in Indonesia. Firstly, he took it as a joke. However, he finally approved it confidently in one condition. If he succeeds, he wants the investor to turn 100 million Indonesian Rupiah into a billion Indonesian Rupiah as a reward.

It’s an extremely unreasonable statement for some people. However, Ben assumes it is not about money at all. It’s kind of an obsession from a person who has a great confidence to fulfill his will to be known as the best barista in town as he cannot accept when someone tells him there is a better barista.

Ben’s obsession with coffee actually leads to one matter. It is about his trauma since he was a kid. There was an eviction of a coffee plantation in the area he lived. His mother died in that incident which made his father mad and depressed all at once. Thus, it also affected the relationship between Ben and his father. His father perceived coffee as a repulsive object. He became furious at Ben when he made coffee. His trauma still remains in his memory until now. That’s why he regards coffee as a precious object which he is always obsessed over.

Without realizing it, he treats coffee above all else.

In contrast with Ben, Jody has a different thought about coffee. He knows nothing about all matters related to coffee. According to him, coffee is just his instrument to earn money to live and to pay his father’s debt. His viewpoints of coffee are proven by several cases. First, when his partner, Ben, told about the challenge from the investor, he immediately insisted Ben to accept it. He even convinced and forced Ben to succeed, so they can get the money. Second, he told them about Wi-Fi installation at the shop to attract more consumers, so their revenue can increase until fifty percent. He also got an idea to fire the waitress to lessen the operational costs.

From those statements, I see that Jody prefers following what consumers want and need because his goal is making money, unlike Ben who thinks that quality is over quantity.

Ben believes if he can make coffee with a better coffee bean, consumers will come for the sake of tasting it.

Nevertheless, Jody has a secret known only by himself. Despite coffee being just an object to earn money, coffee has made him succeed in making friends with Ben. Coffee has brought him to a freedom he has been looking for all this time. Since he was a kid, he had no personal space. Whatever he did was controlled by his father. Thus, Filosofi Kopi always reminds him of his release from his father.

There are also supporting characters that depict the coffee as something valuable. They are El and Pak Seno. El is a food blogger and also a Q grader with an international certificate. She is very critical to the coffee issues. She believes coffee that is made with feelings will be more tasteful instead of coffee made with obsession, as she tells Ben. According to her, the most delicious coffee is Kopi Tiwus, made by pak Seno, not the coffee made by Ben.

“Kamu mau bandingin diri kamu sama pak Seno? Ini bukan soal ilmu atau pengalaman, Ben. Kamu bikin kopi pakai obsesi. Sementara pak Seno pakai cinta.”

Pak Seno is a man from the Ijen area. He is a coffee farmer and the owner of Tiwus Coffee Plantation. He has been taking coffee for a long time, together with his wife, who also knows about coffee. He says that coffee plants are the same as the other plants which have to be well-treated. It should be taken care of and be given enough nutrition to grow healthy. He explains that Tiwus is the name of his daughter who has passed away. Tiwus used to love playing at the plantation, so he and his wife treat their coffee plantation as their daughter. The form of affection Pak Seno gives to Kopi Tiwus makes it becomes the most delicious coffee.

Coffee is made from the heart, not with obsession or coercion.

To sum up, Filosofi Kopi is a film that represents coffee as something valuable and substantial for some people. Each character has a different perspective toward coffee which gives them the great impact on their life. It is about excessive obsession, a memory of life, livelihood, love, and freedom.

From this film, we learn that a small part of the world can give so much meaning and experiences for its lovers.


What is a Q Grader? (n.d.). Retrieved November 24, 2020, from

Dwimas Sasongko, Angga. (Director), & Jusuf, Jenny. (Writer). (2015). Filosofi Kopi [Motion picture]. Jakarta. Visinema Pictures