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Oi Bura’s Applause and the Spinning Roasting Machine

 In Coffee Conversation

Baca dalam Bahasa Indonesia


Like a roaring sound, the coffee beans move, pivoting on a roasted drum machine. The slight jingle of iron clashes with the engine components made the morning tumultuous. When the aroma of sweet corn begins to linger, and the sound of small pops is like a welcoming applaud, that is: first crack.

The moment when the beans emit heat and gives off a pleasant aroma is an exciting experience that offers a promise. People from the far away land, who call themselves roasters, from continents that don’t really grow coffee, call this the ‘first crack’! That’s the first crack.

I have no idea. This knotty language—it’s getting into me. ‘First crack’ sounds luxurious in the ear chamber, it’s beautiful, even though it leaves a question mark and a thousand more curiosities. But from a lifetime of learning, I know not to get too caught up in the question marks. It will be even more beautiful, if you let it reveal itself in real-life experiences.

I look closely—this roasting machine. A small machine, spinning around, like a moon that faithfully orbits the earth. It’s consistently moving. It seems that I shouldn’t expect much from this machine. Unlike the roasters of specialty coffee with long, arduous narratives about the exploration of aroma and taste, with all those outlandish variables—I know I’m not there yet. Maybe close. Sounds pessimistic indeed!

“Can you do it?”

“After you spin, are you really capable of creating the magical coffee beans?”

“Come on, give me a surprise.”

I talk to the machine. It’s useless, talking to the machine. However, at least this is a way to enliven the morning, in addition to the sound of the spinning engine, the clink of the iron, and a puff of smoke filling my house. Previously, I got a souvenir, a less-than-a-half-kilo green beans from a friend. He had just returned from an expedition to Mount Tambora in West Nusa Tenggara.

“These are from Oi Bura Village. They are dedicated coffee farmers,” he said with enthusiasm as he gave me the green beans. “Look at this, coffee beans as good as this are only valued at Rp10,000 a kilo!”

I remember very well, he told me the story with such heightened emotions, knowing the behavior of those loan sharks who tricked the coffee farmers. They come when the farmers have not harvested the coffee, then lend them money with the agreement to pay with coffee beans. When harvest come, they take the coffee beans that were planted with love and sincerity. Such little appreciation.

Now, the Robusta beans have been spinning in my small roasting machine in my house. Every now and then, frowning, I look at Oi Bura’s coffee with a small flashlight. It begins to turn yellowish. Ten minutes watching him while occasionally playing the trier spoon, I finally hear the sound of small bursts, like popped corn. Yes! First Crack is happening! First crack incarnates like a loud applause in my mind. I smile. Oi Bura happily applauded, apparently.

I don’t want Oi Bura’s coffee beans toasted too black. So I just take it out immediately. The result? I expect miracles to happen. Maybe there will be a strong sweet aroma or a charming color? Very exciting!

And this is what happens: ordinary results and aroma! Unlike the clapping sound of Oi Bura which was boisterous and crowded.

“Well, that’s what you call a home roaster,” I said to myself.  “But still, it’s something to be thankful for and it’s not too bad.”

That’s how I comfort myself. Apparently, with a small machine and little experience, it’s hard to dream big. Be realistic is key. I put the freshly roasted coffee beans in an open container to cool down for some time. After that, I put it in an aluminum foil bag. This story is so flat huh?


One week has passed ever since the day I roasted Oi Bura coffee from my friend. Days go by per usual. I really want to have good coffee with extraordinary taste. But that day is not today. Ah but at least, I can still have a sip of coffee, even though it might not be as good as specialty coffee. I still have coffee from my roaster, right?

I open the Oi Bura coffee bag which I had roasted a week ago. Just curious about the taste. I grind it with a manual grinder, heat the kettle, and then pour hot water into a cup filled with Oi Bura coffee ground. I take a sip,


Is this possible? I try again.

“Lemon! Absolutely!”

Three times I convince myself, and it’s true—it tastes like lemon. This Robusta coffee, harvested and processed semi-wash, feels acidic like fresh lemon. What a special taste! This is magical. A small machine that I had underestimated and coffee beans from farmers who were caught in debt can create magic!

I’m stunned and grateful—Oi Bura coffee which is roasted in a simple home-roasting machine can beat Robusta specialty coffee! I look at the cup of Oi Bura coffee again, remember the day when Oi Bura made an applause, the first crack. Now, I’m the one who applauds.

Oleh Syam Indra Pratama


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