There’s a new wave of coffee brewing in Bandung and the city’s hipsters are taking to them in droves.
Since getting back from our trips to Europe and Australia, we’ve been checking out some of the new cafes that have sprung up around Bandung and have been surprised with the quality of coffee on offer.
These are our favourites:
Noah’s Barn really was the first of the new wave in Bandung, mixing modern Australian cafe design with seriously good coffee. This place is not really a cafe per se as they focus almost exclusively on coffee with food being a secondary consideration. Still, it’s a great place to hang out with friends because the interior is designed so well that it gives a compact and relaxed feel. In fact, it’s the interior design that gives this place the edge over the competition in our view. Coffee is sensational, disappointingly the WiFi doesn’t usually work other than to send a tweet or two.
Jalan Laks. M. U. Nurtanio (AKA Jalan Garuda) No. 39,
Two Hands Full
Two Hands Full has a more industrial angle on the “mod oz” design and utilises high benches, bare concrete floors and a few quirky signs to encourage its hipster set to feel at home. The good thing about Two Hands Full is that it serves food as well as great coffee. Another welcome aspect is the speed of the WiFi which is some of the fastest in town. This place is for serious coffee aficionados, lovers of quick meals and fast WiFi. The location on Jalan Sukajadi can be a major problem on weekends.
Jalan Sukajadi No. 206,Bandung 40161
I always get Two Cents and Two Hands Full mixed up. Mainly because they remind me of my two favourite cafes in Melbourne, Three Bags Full and Two Birds One Stone. Two Cents is definitely not as hip as Two Hands Full and not as cozy as Noah’s Barn. Yes, they are serious about coffee, but not to the exclusion of food. And this is a great plus as there is an equal focus on trying to churn out decent food – thankfully they largely succeed. The problem with the food that I’ve had so far is that because parts of the dishes are pre-prepared (such as stewed berries), they sometimes don’t mesh together in a single coherent dish. The stewed berries on our French toast were served at fridge temperature while the toast itself was hot — it just didn’t work, despite the flavours being very good. These are minor issues, though, and we believe this will become one of the most popular modern cafes in Bandung. Definitely worth a repeat visit.
Jalan Cimanuk No. 2 (Cnr of Jalan Riau),
Ah Lacamera. It’s an odd place. Yes, the coffee is really good. Probably the second best in Bandung in my view. But there are two problems for me. Firstly is the interior of the place. It’s a really great modern design, but it lacks something – something I can’t put my finger on precisely. It doesn’t feel cozy, despite a few large relaxing chairs. Perhaps the space is just too wide open. Perhaps it’s the constant smell of cigarette smoke wafting in from the smoking room around the corner. I just don’t know. But it doesn’t really invite you to spend hours hanging around. The second problem is the food. For me, it’s barely acceptable. They really need to work on lifting the standard of the food on offer because it really does detract from what otherwise is a really great cafe. The WiFi here is incredibly fast which funnily enough does make up for some of the other misgivings here. Perhaps this assessment is too harsh because despite a couple of rough edges, it is still one of my favourite cafes in Bandung and it certainly does eclipse any of the old brigade such as Hummingbird.
Jalan Naripan No.79,
So where does this leave cafes such as Origin, Gigglebox and Hummingbird? These Bandung cafes have been mainstays for the past 3 or 4 years, but times change and Bandung grows more modern. To me, Origin still has a role to play because the food is sensational, but the interior design does need to be lifted to keep pace with the competition. Hummingbird’s food has always been OK and it still is. It serves the purpose of catering to those not on the cutting edge of coffee – perhaps families and older groups of people meeting for a catch up. Gigglebox again is still relevant, but only really for people who are on a tighter budget.
But it needs to be said that the old brigade of the Bandung cafe scene are on notice to pick up their game or risk being left behind. The new standard has been set by the likes of Noah’s Barn and there is no stepping back. You either work to lift your standard or you risk becoming increasingly irrelevant as the years go by.
These new cafes set the scene for exciting times ahead. Great coffee, modern interior design and cutting edge customer experience. Ngopi heula!