Kopi Kothok Is The Indonesian Coffee Brewed With Sugar

Indonesia has been one of the world's largest coffee-producing countries for centuries. Delicious, full-bodied Indonesian coffee is such a beloved commodity that coffee drinkers in Europe and North America have been referring to coffee as "java" since the 19th century. Java is one of the many Indonesian islands that produces its namesake coffee synonym and has developed many coffee customs of its own. Kopi kothok is one such Indonesian coffee recipe born in the Javan town of Cepu.

Kopi kothok is a simple, two-ingredient coffee drink enjoyed in households and shops around Indonesia. It's a blend of coffee grounds or powder and sugar boiled together in water. While espresso machines, percolators, French presses, and all the latest coffee-making technology have streamlined and concentrated coffee's flavor, boiling is the oldest, most basic way to make coffee. It's also a method still widely used in Indonesia.

While we might be accustomed to adding sugar to a freshly brewed cup of coffee, kopi kothok infuses the sugar into the brew while simultaneously dissolving it in boiling water for a perfectly blended cup of sweet coffee. Kopi kothok is a fundamental preparation from which many other regional variations have arisen, including coconut and sugar-infused Kopi Lethok and the more elaborate kopi bajigur with cinnamon, ginger, and pandan leaves.

How to make kopi kothok at home

While there's not much technique needed to boil coffee and sugar together, authentic Kopi Kothok tends to use dried coffee powder. Unlike the fairly poor quality instant coffee you might have in mind, Indonesian coffee powder is the dehydrated form of their delicious indigenous arabica brewed coffee. It's also hard to find outside of Indonesia.

Consequently, if you'd rather not swap Indonesian instant coffee for a more readily available instant coffee brand, you can use Indonesian arabica coffee grounds, which are easier to find packaged or roasted fresh at grocery stores and coffee shops. Coffee grounds won't dissolve, but they'll taste even richer than instant coffee powder and offer a stronger caffeine kick. Typical Kopi Kothok recipes use a ratio of one part instant coffee to one part sugar per single serving. You can use the same ratio for coffee grounds.

If you use grounds instead of instant coffee, you can strain the grounds through a mesh sieve or simply let the grounds settle at the bottom of your mug before taking your first sip. You can add powdered or fresh spices to the boil for more complexity. Another option is to use coconut milk instead of water for the boiling liquid.