Stumble Into Indonesia's Unseen Places
Submitted by mumunmumun on 21 August 2014 • Destination
I can’t remember what specifically allured me to Jarod, Manado. I think it was because of something simple, which could be because it’s where the locals get their cup of coffee. Considering we could meet the Manado people and I could get my first shot of caffeine, that’s good enough for me.
‘Jalan Roda’ or known as Jarod, is a small road filled with local coffee shops lined side-by-side, with the occasional ‘warung makan’ or traditional eatery in between. This area has been around for a pretty long time. The history goes back to the colonial days, even before World War I. This road is said to be a meeting point for merchants from the mountains, wanting to sell their goods at the market. This is where they’d park their ‘ride’, being wagons and such, also known as ‘roda’ or wheels. Hence, with ‘jalan’ meaning road, the area is called wheel road or ‘jalan roda / jarod’.
“It’s where I park my wheels,” would have to be the saying back then. Pretty fly!
The road, or more likely alley, is filled with long chairs, plastic chairs, long tables, each with ashtrays on the table. Entering the relatively tight alley, the air heats up, smells of burned tobacco filled the air, smoke hazed the area, and is filled with sounds of men laughing and talking. Occasionally there would be sounds of spoons clinking to glasses as drinks are stirred. This type of coffee-drinking culture reminds me of the coffee shops in Ambon and Pontianak, but this was a lot more communal. Most of the visitors were men, but women were also present especially as food sellers. At the time, the presidential election was coming up. You can guess what the people were mostly talking about. It was a very masculine ambiance.
Like all businesses standing side-by-side, some business flourished and some flopped. Some shops were filled with visitors, some were empty. Upon my visit, I chose a stall that was fairly visited and had a kitchen that seemed accessible. I was ready to peek in to see what the secret was in making a good cup of coffee. The coffee was kopitiam style; cooked in a copper pot on a stove and then poured in a cup through a filter. Most of the time, visitors would prefer it sweet or with milk (condense milk, of course), like the one in Pontianak or Ambon.
North Sulawesi isn’t particularly popular in producing coffee. My coffee maker said that they purchase Toraja coffee and had them shipped in a large amount, as most of the coffee shops in the area did too. The grind was very rough, but it was made to be boiled with the water. His kitchen was pretty basic, differed by his own personal boiling tin cup. What’s interesting was that he used coal to cook his coffee, and not on a gas or electric stove. He said, coal is less risky and brings out a better taste on the coffee. He had always used coal since the 60s. Like most of the alley, things haven’t changed since then.
“The only thing that is different is now I use an electric fan to fire the stove and not manually fan it. It’s easier this way,” he said. God bless technology!
To drink with the coffee, are banana fritters, specifically the Manado ‘pisang gohoro’. These banana fritters are different to the usual fritters as they are thinly sliced and fried pretty dry. Most of the time, the bananas are crunchy on the sides and soft in the middle. With it, is the chili paste. The chilli mix I had was delicious and mildly hot for my tongue. Doubling my dose of sweat that morning. The combination of hot coffee with burning hot spicy banana fritters sounds like the food of devils, but there are devilish things that we love instead. So, why not give it a shot?
However, it’s said that not only merchants come to the area and have cups of coffee. All sorts of people come to this place to hang out. Jarod became a common ground, where everyone is equal. A coffee drinker said that’s its best trait. The most important politicians can sit and be treated the same as a market seller. This also sparks discussions between people from different professions. It’s neutral land, so people come here for the coffee and the talk.
It’s true what Motul, an Indonesian blogger, pointed out on his blog. It’s great that this type of coffee tradition still exists amongst the growing business of modern cafés. To be fair, the coffee is better, (way) cheaper and the food is great compared to most cafes (but that’s probably my taste). Apparently, the Manado people are happy with this. That’s what the old man said, as he kindly walked us there from where we got off the public transport. He was heading there, as he needed his morning fix anyways. I could do with AC. Well, at least the old generation still likes it. We barely saw young visitors but it might not have been their hour.
Psstt… did I mention the coffee didn’t even cost me a (US) dollar? I think it was about IDR 8000. And the ‘pisang gohoro’ only cost about IDR 10,000 per portion! It a pretty big one, too. Crazy!
Jarod is located within Pasar 45. It’s near the Presiden Plaza.
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