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As Indonesians order their iced lattes online, coffee chains start selling them in bulk

Coffee brands are diversifying, adding non-coffee drinks with herbs such as turmeric, ginger, and tamarind.

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash.

Indonesia’s food and beverage (F&B) merchants are facing a challenging time. When the largest Muslim-majority nation enters the month of Ramadan, F&B companies usually experience a decline in sales, as customers are consuming less. COVID-19 doubles the pain. The government is enforcing partial lockdowns in several areas prohibiting social gatherings in public places—including restaurants and cafés.

The coffee brands Kopi Kenangan and Fore Coffee are not immune to this problem. But a surprising turn is helping them offset some loss in income.

Better menu, bigger portions

A new trend is emerging in Indonesia’s coffee scene. Many chains have started selling their coveted iced lattes in 1-liter bottles. The idea originated from the iced latte pioneer itself,  Toko Kopi Tuku, with the launch of the popular kopi tukucur in March.

Other outlets copied the move, including Kopi Kenangan and Fore Coffee. Consumers can now stock up their favorite drink without worrying about the expensive delivery fee or too much plastic waste.

“We strive to accommodate the new habits with new delivery features, as well as new products such as Seliter Kenangan which can be stored for 3 days in the refrigerator, reducing delivery fees,” Ruth Davina, Kopi Kenangan’s PR and communication manager, told KrASIA.

Kopi Kenangan is selling its drinks in 1-liter bottles. Picture from Kopi Kenangan’s Instagram page.

Since its launch in late April, the new size has been a success. According to Davina, sales of the 1-liter drinks contribute 2.5% of the gross merchandise value (GMV). Right now, the drinks can only be ordered from Tokopedia or Shopee. From May 18, they will be available on the Kopi Kenangan mobile app and other food platforms such as GoFood and GrabFood.

The company also collaborates with Indonesia’s renowned jamu (herbal drink) producer Nyonya Meneer, launching a non-coffee drink line with herbs such as turmeric, ginger, and tamarind.

For Ramadan, Kopi Kenangan is serving special products inspired by traditional Indonesian drinks. Muslims in the country usually break their fast by consuming sweet iced drinks made from fruits such as cantaloupes, which are sold by street vendors. Now it’s near impossible to find them in the streets, which is why Kopi Kenangan adds them to the menu for delivery at home.

“We’re expecting to see growth with our Ramadan specialties,” said Davina.

Fore Coffee’s Aren Latte in a 1-liter bottle. Picture from Fore Coffee’s Instagram page.

Fore Coffee joined the trend mid-April with FOREveryone. “The 1-liter bottle has gained popularity with a shift in behavior on how people consume coffee,” said the firm’s CEO Elisa Suteja. In order to increase sales, Fore Coffee expanded its menu to include herbal drinks, as customers are looking for immune-boosting products.

In the light of an unprecedented health crisis, the coffee companies also reinforced strict hygiene policies. Kopi Kenangan uses ultraviolet sanitizers to clean utensils at its stores. Fore Coffee is asking all baristas to use face-masks, wash their hands properly, to wear gloves, and clean the service areas after completing orders.

Having built large and loyal communities, the brands want to act responsibly in these times. Layoffs are off the table for now. Kopi Kenangan’s senior executives pledged to be paid IDR 1 until the crisis ends. Fore Coffee’s Suteja also reduced her salary. She now gets the same as her baristas.