Meet Dhydha Maryudha – one of the co-owners of Sagaleh, among the first coffee shops that pioneered the emergence of es kopi susu beverage. With the industry landscape is now much more diversified, he shares his two cents about the business.
In just mere three years, coffee shops are sprouting like wildfire across Indonesia. Early last decade, it was all initiated by a handful of third-wave coffee shops, championing both local beans and micro batches from across the globe. The movement sparked a renewed nationwide appreciation toward coffee and the dynamics that surround it.
Among which is something that’s exclusively found in Indonesia and it’s none other than es kopi susu. This is a refreshing mixture of espresso shots with milk and mixed with homemade sugar sauce, with many prefer using brown sugar. Sagaleh however has its own recipe and was among the pioneers alongside Toko Kopi Tuku, Kopi Sana, Animo, and Di Bawah Tangga.
How it all began
Before fully inheriting RM Sepakat – a long standing Padang restaurant in Blok M, Dhydha and the rest of third generation owners decided to open their own business first. As to why a coffee business, he simply says that’s because everyone in the family likes coffee!
I remembered a day in 2017 when I walked down this downhill alley around Petogogan, South Jakarta. There I found Sagaleh and it was not the coffee shop that I would had imagined. It was a home, designed for takeaway orders. There were also stools reserved mostly for Gojek drivers. That was my first time enjoying their bold and indulging es kopi susu. It’s among my personal favorites and tastes consistently the same today.
Sagaleh started out modestly without investing in professional espresso coffee machine. “Four portable stoves and ten moka pots. That’s what it takes to brew our coffee”, Dhydha reminisces. Those days, Gojek was not yet available as easily as today. How they did it was just by letting everyone know that they’re open for business through social media. “We still received last order the day before delivery. The next day, we’re using GoSend to deliver our beverages – even to as far as Tangerang and Cibubur!”, he adds.
However, it wasn’t long until they can finally harness the full might of Gojek to catapult the Sagaleh into a well-known powerhouse in es kopi susu business.
Growth and expansions
A few months later, Sagaleh received an opportunity to expand. With overflowing orders keep on coming, the owners must consider an option to move out and not intruding their residential neighbors furthermore. Since then, a small shop tucked on Jalan Sambas – Blok M, became their new home. It was not only designed for takeaway orders, but also for hanging out.
However, the big break came almost just a year after they first started the business and this time the offer came from Pondok Indah Mall. It was still rare in 2018 to find an es kopi susu vendor in shopping malls. Until this day, the one at Pondok Indah Mall remains among the best performing of all Sagaleh outlets.
In 2019, Sagaleh opened up their flagship store in Panglima Polim area. Designated as a hub, Rumah Sagaleh shares its space with a barber shop. Inside, you can find more seats and even outdoor space. The kitchen was also set up to cater more more food menu to complement your drinks.
“Finally, we have a complete portfolio for Sagaleh. A full-fledged coffee shop, a smaller shop like the one on Jalan Sambas, and a tenant at a lifestyle shopping mall”, explains Dhydha.
The road ahead
Now there are more than just the three outlets in Jakarta. Only recently, they have expanded to Bandung and soon at least a couple more will be opened. “We are also considering for other cities as well. Would be great to reach 10 shops this 2020!”, exclaims Dhydha, brimming with confidence.
Even so, the pathway that Sagaleh leads to is to grow organically. With rapid expansions of several brands in the coffee shop business recently, it was only natural for us to ask his two cents about it. “Do you think such growth is deemed healthy for the industry and the competition?”, we ask.
Wisely Dhydha answers that he does not worry about it. “As long as we can all compete healthily, it should be okay. But my concern would be the astronomical demands for the farmers”, he continues. A just concern, remembering that Indonesian farmers capacity to cater such scale is being seriously challenged.
“Venture capitalists are now partnering with coffee shops and they now have serious KPI to fulfill. Such offer was once presented for us, but we decided to just grow the business by ourselves”, explains Dhydha. The new direction from the management of Sagaleh is not only expanding their business gradually, but to also focusing on quality without forgetting their roots.
“To bridge the gap between es kopi susu and specialty coffee would be where we’re heading next. It’s already challenging to maintain consistency with the products and our human resources. So in the end, it’s all about creating a sustainable business for the long run”, he says.
This article was published in Passion Magazine
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