Communications and Marketing

Kissia has coffee on the brain

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Thursday 16 February 2023

Upon entering the small Café Meramanis on Hansaring in Cologne, one is immediately struck by the wall-filling artwork on the right-hand side. It tells the story of Kissia and her four companions and their love of coffee. The mural depicts astronauts in a coffee cosmos whose helmets look like coffee cups because the artist thought "that we only have coffee on the brain," says Kissia, a young woman from Indonesia who is studying business administration at Hochschule Bonn-Rhein-Sieg.

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The coffeenauts on the road in the orbit of coffee flavors. Mural at Café Meramanis in Cologne. Photo: H-BRS
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Kissia, her team and the Indonesian Consul General at Meramanis Café in Cologne, 2022. Photo: Dwi Anoraganingrum

Kissia's four friends and business partners, Andru, Randit, Farhan and Nozky, also come from Indonesia, however, they first got to know each other in Düsseldorf. Together they founded Kissia UG in April 2022 with the roastery in Frechen and the Café Meramanis in Cologne. They import and roast coffee beans from Indonesia, which they obtain directly from the coffee farmers.

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Coffee "Java Banyubiru" presented in a cognac snifter. Photo: H-BRS

Meramanis is a made-up word from the Indonesian words for red (merah) and sweet (manis). Reddish is also the color of the freshly brewed Java Banyubiru coffee; it has a slightly fruity sourness that gives it a certain liveliness. "Sourness in coffee is not a crime," Kissia says. Banyubiru is best drunk straight, typically accompanied by a hearty snack in Indonesia, which are on the menu at Café Meramanis as well. But if you prefer something less exotic, you can also get an espresso or a cappuccino here, along with sweet pastries.

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Kissia brews a Java Banyubiru from freshly ground red coffee beans. Photo: H-BRS

Kissia talks extensively about the importance of quality control of the beans and that they only sell beans with the international certification "Specialty Coffee".  And how important it is to have direct contact with coffee farmers. "Indonesian coffee has a bad reputation because middlemen often cheat on the quality of the product. We are also concerned with improving the reputation of Indonesian coffee."

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Kissia and a friend in Indonesia. Photo: private

In 2012, Kissia, just 19 years old, came from the metropolis of Semarang on Java to Kelkheim in the Taunus region as an au pair. She already had the desire to study in Germany in her luggage, but first wanted to polish up her language skills. In order to be admitted to university in Germany, she attended a preparatory college in Nordhausen in Thuringia. In 2015, she finally moved to Cologne to study business administration. Since the amount of hands-on training she received in Cologne was not quite enough for her, she switched to Hochschule Bonn-Rhein-Sieg  in 2019.

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Indonesian dumplings filled with vegetables at Café Meramanis. Photo: H-BRS

Kissia got the idea to start her own business when she worked for a mini-job at an Indonesian IT start-up in Düsseldorf and met her current colleagues Andru and Randit there. Another push in the right direction came from the focus course International Management at H-BRS, where lecturer Joyce Treptow encouraged her to take the plunge into the cold water of entrepreneurship.

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Kissia serves a customer at Café Meramanis. Photo: H-BRS

One reason that coffee became the main theme of the new company was co-founder Farhan, who had already worked as a barista and roaster and is a true coffee expert. "We all learned a lot from him; he was also a finalist in the German Brewers Cup." Meanwhile, Farhan also serves as a quality controller of the Specialty Coffee Association for Robusta coffee. Robusta coffee is the most important bean variety in the world next to Arabica. Kissia plans to add the strong bean, often used for espresso, to the product range in the near future.

As an employee of the Center for Entrepreneurship, Innovation and SMEs (CENTIM), Treptow also got her colleagues Karoline Noth and Christoph Krieger of the Start-up-Manufaktur on board. Guided by them, Kissia entered the "Womentor" mentoring programme, where she was intensively prepared for the pitfalls of self-employment. In March 2022, she traveled to Indonesia, where she trained her skills as a barista and learned the basics of coffee roasting. 

How does she manage it all? It is quite challenging, says Kissia, as she is the managing director of the UG and runs the store on her own during the week. On weekends, she takes care of business and social media. At least what she does in her own store is recognized as an internship semester at the H-BRS. Soon, she will hire a colleague to serve in the café so she can find a little more time for her studies again.

Text: Juri Küstenmacher 

What is Specialty Coffee?

Specialty Coffee is high-quality coffee. Trained quality controllers from the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) test and rate the beans on a scale of 1 to 100. Coffee beans that score over 80 points in the rating are labeled "Specialty Coffee".


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Juri Küstenmacher

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