We find out how Mahniwati’s brand Kon Bayan Coffee is helping to change the Indonesian coffee industry in Lombok.
BY VASILEIA FANARIOTI
SENIOR ONLINE CORRESPONDENT
Photos courtesy of Mahniwati Ony
Mahniwati Ony is a beauty pageant contestant from Indonesia’s Lombok Island and the winner of the 2015 Miss Tourism title at the provincial level. She has recently turned her attention to coffee production by starting Kon Bayan Coffee. She discovered that many of the Indigenous people in her community were cash-poor despite their wealth of natural resources.
To help them, Mahniwati taught herself each step of the coffee value chain. She now shares her knowledge with farmers while promoting coffee produced by local women. We spoke to Mahniwati about her journey from beauty queen to coffee entrepreneur.
Barista Magazine: What inspired you to create Kon Bayan Coffee?
Mahniwati Ony: Kon Bayan Coffee was created as an act of resistance to challenge the accusation that women are only good for certain things. It is also a form of pride, honoring the Bayan Indigenous people and recognizing their hard work in growing coffee beans which are sourced from North Lombok. The name Kon Bayan translates to “of the bayan,“ and is intended to empower women who come from this region. It stands for strength, resilience, and hope for a better future.
How has your experience as Miss Tourism of the West Nusa Tenggara province helped in launching and managing the business?
My experience as Miss Tourism of the West Nusa Tenggara province has given me valuable insight and confidence to launch my own business. In 2017, I decided to start my own small business despite initial opposition from family and peers. This only made me more determined to prove that unmarried women can be successful in their pursuits. My journey so far has been invaluable in helping me manage an enterprise.
’Mother of Coffee’
Why did you choose coffee as a way to help your community?
I chose to work with coffee as a way to help my community because it is an activity that I enjoy, and it holds a lot of cultural importance. In my indigenous culture, there are ceremonies involving coffee that take place in special areas called inan kupi, meaning “mother of coffee.“ Additionally, planting coffee trees can act as a form of conservation, since they require other larger trees to provide protection from the sun. This makes them an important part of protecting customary forests.
How have you been able to help local farmers through Kon Bayan Coffee?
Kon Bayan Coffee has helped local farmers by providing them with an educational process on how to properly care for, harvest, and store coffee. This has enabled them to receive fair prices without relying on middlemen and helped to improve their economic conditions. We have created processes and work contracts and focused on quality, leading to a positive impact for the farmers.
How has Kon Bayan Coffee grown since its launch?
Our coffee was initially rejected by coffee shops because of their preference for arabica over robusta. However, we persisted and eventually found a business community that values local products. We now have our coffee available in local coffee shops (in) Lombok, Gilis, and Kuta, and we are working to expand our collaboration with farmers in Lombok to improve the post-harvest process and storage of coffee.
Are there any particular challenges that women entrepreneurs face when starting a business in Indonesia?
In Indonesia, there are challenges that female entrepreneurs face when starting a business, such as societal pressure to prioritize family over their career. People in the country generally prioritize education and success but also expect women to serve their husbands and take care of their children.
The Lombok Community
What kind of impact do you hope to see from your company’s work within the community?
We strive to create positive change within our local community by offering economic growth through increased job opportunities, improved agricultural practices such as utilizing natural fertilizers, and providing educational resources such as barista training for the younger generation. We are committed to making a lasting difference in the lives of our coffee farmers.
What has been the feedback from local customers and the general coffee community in Indonesia and abroad?
Customers from Lombok, Indonesia, and abroad have given positive feedback regarding Lombok coffee’s unique taste. They are also pleased to know that their purchase empowers local women and young people, as they are involved in the processing of the coffee. There have even been customers who bought so much coffee while on vacation to Lombok that they requested it be sent abroad when they returned home. This has motivated us to further our work with local farmers in producing high-quality coffee.
What is your long-term vision for Kon Bayan Coffee?
Kon Bayan Coffee’s long-term vision is to offer bulk coffee from single origins without using plastic. We want to focus on reducing single-use plastic waste and promote sustainability. Other goals include opening jobs for women in our shop and creating plantation tour packages with farmers to introduce coffee to tourists.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Vasileia Fanarioti (she/her) is a senior online correspondent for Barista Magazine, and a freelance copywriter and editor with a primary focus on the coffee niche. She has also been a volunteer copywriter for the I’M NOT A BARISTA NPO, providing content to help educate people about baristas and their work. You can follow her adventures at thewanderingbean.net.