Nova Dewi, the founder of Suwe Ora Jamu, aims to preserve the noble heritage of Jamu.


As a native Surabayan who is used to consuming herbal drinks commonly known as "jamu" every day, Nova Dewi, founder of the popular jamu and coffee shop Suwe Ora Jamu, felt that there is something missing in her daily life if she does not enjoy this traditional Indonesian herb.

When she first moved to Jakarta, she thought that if no one in this modern city remembers jamu as the common drink of the country, people could forget their own cultural heritage.

"When I first moved and settled in Jakarta in 2011, I had a very hard time getting herbal medicine. So, from there, I started thinking about opening a herbal medicine business," she reminisced.

Nova's dream to establish a herbal medicine shop finally materialized in 2012. Given the modern market she's facing in the capital, Nova also repackaged jamu in a more acceptable way to urban communities. All the designs and servings of this herbal medicine have been carefully thought out so that they can attract millennials.

"Also, because today many people work in cafes, so I want people who come to the Suwe Ora Jamu shop to work with a calm mind, so they can get a comfortable and different atmosphere while drinking the healthy herbal drinks," said Nova. "We put it in more youthful, contemporary packaging, that makes it doesn't really look like drinking herbal medicine."

Currently, Suwe Ora Jamu shops are available in big cities, including in the Greater Jakarta area, Surabaya, and Bali. The market expands, from millennials to housewives, but it's also no longer dominated by women. Many men fell in love with the first sip of the modern herbal concoctions made by Suwe Ora Jamu.

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A newer, closer approach to jamu

Suwe Ora Jamu produces three main products: house-blend jamu, pre-ordered jamu, and herbs brewed directly at the shop. All jamu in Suwe Ora Jamu, however, are hand-crafted by the "acaraki", which is akin to baristas but for jamu.

These herbal products have also been adapted to the tastes of millennials, which is to be less thick and bitter.

"Speaking of jamu, we sell some common traditional herbs, such as kunyit asem and beras kencur," explained Nova. "The taste has also been adjusted to a taste that is not too strong or not too thick as well, so that it can still fit into the tastes of millennials."

Through her herbal medicine shop, Nova wants to gradually educate the younger generation to lead a healthy lifestyle by consuming natural ingredients useful for maintaining health.

"Actually, we want to invite friends from the younger generation, friends who love herbal medicine, millennials, or expatriates living in Jakarta, and foreign guests," Nova continued, aiming for the youth to be more curious about the efficacy and origins of jamu.

Nova also has other ways to preserve the heritage of jamu, one of which is by providing education to make herbal medicine through special classes. In addition, Nova also makes video tutorials that can be accessed through social media. With these youthful approaches, Nova hopes that herbal medicine can become a lifestyle that is close to young people.

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