Dyah: A Paragon of Kindness

One of the most meaningful blessings of running our small fermentary is that we get to rub elbows with most amazing souls. I have known Dyah, a single mother of two and the co-owner of Kopitoko coffee shops in Seminyak, Sanur, and Ubud, Bali, through our kids’ friendships in 2013.

Dyah’s life path was not always smooth. I watched with extreme pains when her personal life was spiraling out of sync. I silently cried for her and wished in secret that similar fate would not befall me nor my other friends. But then I also watched her emerge from ashes like a majestic phoenix and awed by her quality under enormous pressure.

I know it is hard to imagine just by reading this, but with Dyah, her kind-heartedness, authenticity and talents emanate and rub on positivity to anything she touches. In fact, in the timespan I have known Dyah, she rarely uttered negative remarks, even during unfortunate circumstances she was forced to face. Quite remarkable in a world where a lot of people pretend to be someone else or something they are not, speaking of kindness just for a show, without intentions of executing it. But she is not one of those -she stands out; Dyah is like a beautiful flower blooming in the harshest place refusing to succumb to ugliness. Her authenticity touches my heart.

I realize that it is impossible to illuminate the whole essence of her quality in a 5-minute read, but here is a little glimpse of Dyah. Read on.


Heal: Walking into Kopitoko feels like walking into a warm and welcoming living room, with the inviting aroma of fresh coffee. Can you share a bit of how Kopitoko was born and how you and your partners managed to create such a lovely atmosphere?

The dream and intention to create a cozy coffee shop was born far before Kopitoko. It was one of those dreams that kept popping up, trying to find its way to execution. My partners Rendy and Putri are husband and wife, and we are related by ways of my previous marriage. We maintained a loving relationship and warm family feelings beyond the life of my marriage, and together we envisioned a space that gives out that same warm family-feeling for the locals and tourists alike, a fun and welcoming place that brightens anyone’s day.
Kopitoko Sanur was our first. We found a little space in Sanur, and being only 300 meters away from Sanur beach, we loved that our kids would be able to play on the beach after school, something that could always cheer them up. It was the size of a small garage, roughly 4 by 5 meters, so you can imagine it was tight and challenging to create a visually attractive place that is designed for fast and efficient operations, and most importantly has a welcoming and cozy atmosphere. After designing and working on it for 6 months, Kopitoko Sanur opened its doors in 2016, and it felt like a boost of hope in one challenging chapter of my life.


Heal: And now it has flourished to three coffee shops and a roastery. What were some of the challenges these past 4 years and what other projects are coming?

After Sanur, we opened one place in Seminyak, and then one more in Ubud. One of the first challenges was being able to stand out among other coffee shops that were popping out, and to do that all three of us had to be true and aligned with our core values. Since we wanted it to be authentic and involve the local community, we showcased local artists in creating wall murals that illustrate the map of the local vicinities. Since the inception, we have tried to feature homemade and handmade local products, while reducing the use of plastics, single-use containers, and the amount of trash at the same time, so we started serving our drinks and food in my own potteries. We also made a point of hiring fun and kindhearted team members, making sure the family vibes were felt by every customer walking into our doors.
As we started to have a better understanding of the coffee industry, we realized that to maintain our standard quality, the next challenge would be to source and roast our own coffee beans. Though this did not result in cheaper coffee beans supply, this surely guaranteed that we were aligned with the founding mission to provide the best quality coffee sourced directly from Indonesian farmers with fair compensation. This practice also improved traceability and monitoring systems to ensure that the beans were produced sustainably.
Bali has been hit really hard by the pandemic, but we insisted on keeping all outlets running, with the primary goal of keeping the Kopitoko team employed. To make do, we recently opened a semi-permanent pottery studio behind our Ubud shop. It is by far not a typical studio but surely the ‘new normal’ studio because classes are held in an open-air space, with a safe distance between potters. After the pandemic hit, people have more time to try new hobbies they were previously curious about. We also relocated our Sanur shop to a larger space with more open area seating. We will continue to strategize how Kopitoko can better serve the communities in this ‘new normal’ era, and we are so grateful for the overwhelming support we have received for our shops in Ubud, Sanur, and Seminyak.


Heal: I knew you as a potter first. In fact, I use your handmade mugs for my coffee and think of you often as I sip my morning coffee from your handmade mugs. How did you discover your love for pottery?

Returning as a fresh graduate from New Zealand in 1998, I was intrigued by a ceramic class I attended in Jakarta held by the late Mr. Liem Keng Sien. Mr Liem was one prominent Indonesian potter and as I continued to feed my inner curiosity for the art form, I ended up working for Mr. Liem for several months in his art studio -the one he called ‘The University of Rest and Relax’. In the past 20 years, my love for pottery has been one of the constant things in my life that grounded me. Every time I sit in front of the wheel, I am reminded of the importance of patience and trust in the process.


Heal: Your move to Bali was abrupt and sudden, surprising even your inner circle. What made you decide to leave?

My heart knew that my kids and I needed to remove ourselves from the unfavorable environment and circumstances we were facing in Jakarta at that time. I knew we had to move forward, so I dared myself to relocate to another city. No clear plans, yet all I wanted was to do right by my kids. So, we simply packed some luggage and readied up, that was all. Then again, born in Jakarta, my two kids had never lived anywhere else, so you can imagine the fears and anxieties of moving to a completely new town with no friends around, not knowing what the next steps would have been. We were fortunate to have the extensive support of family and friends, many of whom opened their hearts and home as we transitioned into finding a home, enrolling in schools, and settling in Bali. Yes, honestly, it was a big leap of faith, and I just lived my life one day at a time.


Heal: How did you decide Bali to be your safe haven?

Bali is renowned for its positive healing energy, a place where we can easily connect with mother earth to reground, reconnect, and recharge mind and souls. This was exactly what Bali has done for my kids and me, and Bali life was precisely the change we needed. When asked, my children said that their favorite thing about Bali was the humble and friendly people of Bali, and they could not see themselves living anywhere else. In retrospect, we felt like we had arrived at home the first time we stepped foot here.


Heal: Oh Dyah, I could not remember the last time you spoke badly of someone, even during the heights of the ill moment. How do you remain so positive?

I think it just goes back to perspective and intentions. We always have a choice to see everything with a negative or positive lens. There is this saying, before fixing what you are looking at, check what you are looking through. So, it is a conscious choice for me. It is not always easy and I fail sometimes, too. But if we set out with good intentions, I believe whatever happens will be okay. I think it also helps that I love what I do and where I am in life now, so I wake up grateful and I can focus on the path I am supposed to be on.


-- oo0oo --


Dyah’s story shows the power of a trusting heart and kind intentions. Dyah possesses a deep understanding that the obstacles laid in front of us are never insurmountable to handle. Bali is still very much suffering because of the ongoing pandemic, yet she perseveres and looks ahead, and while doing so always chooses kindness over spitefulness. She embraces others. She constantly tries to lift others and builds herself all the while. She pours her authenticity and offers her big heart in everything she creates. Effortlessly, it appears, yet I know it takes an amazingly strong woman to be able to stay kind during hardships and make it look so effortless. These remarkable qualities are exactly the things that inspire me and these qualities overflow into Kopitoko and her potteries. But please do not take my word -stop by one or all her places and you will see what I have been trying to make you see.

And yes, Dyah, we hear you: we all can always choose kindness over spite. We are all given that conscious choice every time, and that seemingly meaningless choice might be the master key to a kinder, softer, and better world and we thank you for being a real-life paragon of kindness.



Follow her on Instagram, @kopitokobali and @dyahpottery

1 comment

  • We really miss you..
    Many friends from our class are always asking about you.
    We hope that we can visit you soon..
    Best wishes and warm regards..🙏🏼🙏🏼

    Haryo Adiputro Soenggono

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published