Under the Qatar-Indonesia 2023 Year of Culture programme, the National Museum of Qatar has partnered with the National Museum of Indonesia to arrange Growing Kopi, Drinking Qahwa: Stories of Coffee in Qatar and Indonesia. Dedicated to the global history of coffee, the exhibition particularly focuses on coffee cultures in the two countries. It is being held at the National Museum of Qatar and will be open to the public until 17 February 2024.
Aisha al-Attiya (Director of Cultural Diplomacy at Qatar Museums) says: “As Qatar and Indonesia celebrate their shared traditions [this year], the importance of coffee culture in both nations has emerged as an area with significant meaning in daily life”. According to Indonesian Ambassador Ridwan Hassan, the Growing Kopi, Drinking Qahwa show brings to light the deep connections between cultures traversing borders “through a shared appreciation for hospitality, tradition, and building human connection.”
The exhibition comprises five main sections. The first one, What is Coffee?, tells about the coffee plant and its valuable beans. Here, one can also learn about the origins of the terms kopi (“coffee” in Indonesian) and qahwa (the Arabic word for coffee). The next area, Growing and Trading Coffee, is devoted to the history of coffee in the Arab World and Indonesia. This section also displays the Bloom in Agony (2022) artwork created by Gegerboyo, an art collective based in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. The installation explores how the country’s colonial heritage and modern coffee practices are connected.
The Roasting and Brewing area allows one to delve into the processes and traditions of coffee practices. Visitors can learn about qahwa brewing from the videos displayed in this section. Made from green coffee beans and spices, qahwa is brewed in a dallah (a traditional Arabic coffee pot) and poured into fenjals (small cups with no handles). In Indonesia, the most popular brewed coffee is kopi tubruk: coarsely grounded coffee is boiled with sugar and then drunk without being filtered.
The Serving and Drinking section presents the coffee rituals in Qatar and Indonesia. With the help of a 360° projection, the visitors have an exciting opportunity to visit Filosofi Kopi, a well-known coffee shop in Jakarta. Another circular space here transports you to a Qatari majlis. Inside, two screens display a short film shot in collaboration with the Qatari youth intern team from the Ajial Altarbwy centre. It tells about the local coffee serving and drinking etiquette.
The last area, Coffee and Creativity, pays tribute to some cultural art forms practised in both countries (for instance, Indonesian batik textiles and traditional mask dances) and celebrates Qatari artists and creative entrepreneurs.
The Growing Kopi, Drinking Qahwa exhibition is accompanied by a full range of public events that bring together local coffee shops, artists, and Indonesian baristas. The programme includes competitions, panel discussions, guided tours, a film screening, workshops, and other engaging activities.
To learn more about Growing Kopi, Drinking Qahwa; Stories of Coffee in Qatar and Indonesia, please visit the show’s official web page.
You might also be interested in attending the Coffee Museum in Dubai.