The Yak headed to Jl. Dewi Sri in order to dive into the world of Naughty Goat Coffee Artisans, and learn more about the reverence offered to the humble bean here! We sit down with two coffee artisans and the co-founders, Winston and Jen…
Thank you both for your time. We are opening the interview with a welcome drink, what are we about to savour?
This is what we call ‘the bubbly’. It’s basically a carbonated cold brew made using our signature cold brew as a base. We just dilute it with water and put it through a soda-stream, and voila! It’s fizzy, refreshing, and fun. Tell you a secret: do you know how some people use sparkling water as a palate cleanser? One of the reasons we serve this is so our guests can enjoy their next coffee from a neutral palate. Cheers!
Bring us back into the whys and wherefores of creating this brand…
It definitely wasn’t anything this grand when we first started. In the beginning, we were just a cold brew brand operating out of our small 60sqm rental home. Mid-2020, we were in lockdown during the Covid pandemic, and had just lost all our sources of income. With rent, bills, and debt looming over our shoulders, we had to figure out a way to make a living. Since I had a modest background in coffee, we figured that selling cold brew out of our kitchen would be the way for us to survive. During the planning stages, we both decided to lean into our idealistic side, and risked the rest of our savings to create the first Naughty Goat Signature Cold Brew.
Please give us some insight into the brand name?
It’s a silly story, but we named our brand after ourselves. I was born in the year of the goat, and Jen here has an unexpectedly mischievous personality. (Jen vehemently disagrees.) You can say that Jen is the ‘Naughty’, and Winston is the ‘Goat’. It wasn’t until much later that we remembered the story about how coffee was first discovered. Popular legend says that a goatherd was investigating why his docile goats suddenly became unruly, and he found them eating the cherries from a peculiar tree. The goatherd tried to put one in his mouth, and it made him so overjoyed that he started to dance with his goats. I find it fitting that our vision is to be like that naughty goat, and lead our patrons to discover the simple and irresistible joy of a beautiful and delicious coffee.
What made you decide to open a shop instead of just selling your cold brew online?
After almost a year of selling coffee online, we had started to befriend a lot of our patrons. We really wanted to meet them in person, speak to them in person, and brew coffee and serve them in person, too. That’s when we knew that we had to build a physical store.
You have created an omakase experience just for coffee? Do tell.
The omakase actually started as a very casual thing. When we first opened the slow bar, regular guests or visiting coffee professionals would just ask us to make them whatever’s best for the day. Eventually, a lot more people from all sorts of backgrounds began to ask for the same, except that they wanted to taste every single thing that was good for the day. We felt called to represent our entire ideals in the span of a series of beverages. It didn’t take long for us to realise that we didn’t need to reinvent the wheel. Renowned sushi chefs have been doing the same thing for decades, and the Japanese approach to cuisine mirrors many of my own ideals as a barista. Inspired by the omakase-style service, we took this brilliant concept, and adapted it into a vessel to showcase all of the ways our coffee is different from what’s typical in the specialty coffee world.
One of the rules in wanting to join the omakase is NO perfume allowed – why is this?
I’m gonna’ have to go into technical details to answer this one, so please bear with me. Have you ever noticed how some people use coffee to absorb unwanted smells? Or how coffeeshops typically wait until right before they want to brew the coffee before grinding it? Coffee beans are actually very sensitive to external scents, and even more so when they’re already turned into coffee grounds. Our recipes are very precise and adjusted daily to account for microscopic changes in the coffee bean as it continues to develop, as well as changes in ambient conditions. The presence of perfumes, scented lotions, or other strong smells will immediately throw off these adjustments quite dramatically. The house rule is there to protect the quality of our beverages.
Other than the recipes, what makes your coffee beans so special?
All of our coffees are private ‘microlots’, which is a way of saying that not only are they rare and small in quantity, but also that we’re the only ones who have them. Instead of buying our coffees from co-ops or auctions, we go straight to the producer. We work intimately with him to curate better cherries from his estates, and decide together what kind of post-harvest processes we want to use for the upcoming harvest. This means that our coffee beans will always get the kind of meticulous attention that results in excellent quality, and also that every year, we get to design a suitable post-harvest process for the year’s crop and climate. At the end of the day, it is love that produces excellence, and we are very blessed to be collaborating with our partners, who carry a love for coffee that is truly tremendous.
Your passion for “the bean” is palpable. Is this your life’s calling? What brought you to this reverence of coffee?
I wouldn’t say I’m passionate about coffee per se. Rather, I consider myself passionate about life, and reverent of many things that constitute it. Have you ever heard this saying? “Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.” I believe that there’s a lot of wisdom that can be found in studying the little things that make up our daily life, and it’s by recognising what’s often overlooked that we can truly perceive the mundane as something extraordinary.
As an expert in your field, what does it take to reach the level of excellence in business as portrayed by Naughty Goat?
I believe that all businesses are people businesses, and our objective as a business is to create as much value as possible for the people that we serve. My primary concern at the moment is making sure that I can convey to my patrons, as faithfully as possible, the depth of what I know and feel about our coffees. It’s important to both have an authentic product, as well as a genuine and personal service, which imparts the wealth of value that the product carries.
Lastly, what is left for you and the brand to do to further elevate this sipping pleasure?
At the moment, I’m choosing to focus on what I want to do right now and in the near future. I’ve always believed that a good cup of coffee is one that moves people’s hearts. And I’m committed to continue to pursue my art in a way that, every day, it can genuinely touch the person sitting across from me.
Thank you both for your time. Shall we start with the Omakase?