Birmingham graduate opens city’s first Indonesian coffee shop

Visa programme aids unique venture.

A Birmingham City University graduate has opened a unique coffee shop, evoking the culture, individuality and character of his native Indonesia.

Alumnus Birama Gladini and his wife Elmira Hamdi have established Ngopi – meaning ‘let’s have coffee’ in Indonesian – in order to offer an individual alternative to the uniform coffee shop chains found elsewhere in Birmingham city centre.

The majority of Ngopi’s coffee is made using the Indonesian bean, Toraja Sapan, which Birama and Elmira roast in-house using their Indonesian-made machine, Froco. Indonesian coffee is renowned for its high quality and the country is the fourth largest producer of coffee in the world.

Situated underneath The Square Shopping Centre on Dale End, Birama and Elmira are also offering light meals from their homeland, including bakwan, curry puffs and martabak. Originally from Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta, Birama and Elmira previously ran a coffee shop in their native country.

Birama completed his Enterprise Systems Management MSc at Birmingham City University in 2016, and has since been endorsed by the institution to remain in the UK through the Government’s Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa programme. This allows Birama and his family to remain in the UK for two years in order to set-up and run the business. Later, they can apply for a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa which allows them to remain in the UK to run their business for another three years.

Birama Gladini said: “We are beyond grateful for the opportunity Birmingham City University has given us since the beginning of our venture until now. It is through the support of Birmingham City University that me and my family have been able to achieve our dream of opening an Indonesian coffee shop here in Birmingham.

“It was not without any problems opening a new business in a new environment but we sorted it all out with the help of our mentor at the University, Richard Leighton. Richard has been wonderful throughout the process and he has been more than supportive with his actions and encouraging words that keep us going forward.

“Certainly, having three year’s worth of experience running in running a coffee shop business in Indonesia is helping us a lot. We are staying to our roots and offering a modern yet authentic Indonesian feast to fill the void of dedicated Indonesian cafes or restaurants in the Midlands. We hope that everyone, including locals and Indonesians living in the UK, love what we have to offer. ”

Birama and Elmira are now hoping the success of their UK coffee shop will allow them to open a second outlet in London in the near future. Another aim of theirs is to be the only supplier of Indonesian unroasted green coffee beans in the UK and to eventually expand across Europe.

Richard Leighton, Enterprise Manager, Birmingham City University, commented: “Birama and Elmira are brilliant examples of the power of the Tier 1 visa – in that it allows individuals born outside of the UK the opportunity to live and set-up a businesses here that brings in great cultural experience and add real social and economic value to the country.

“On a visit to Southeast Asia a number of years back I noticed the diversity and uniqueness off its traditional coffee shops and as soon as Birama applied to the scheme with a fantastic business plan and experience of setting-up and running a coffee shop in Indonesi,a we immediately realised the potential for the business and its success.

“Both Birama and Elmira, as well as their little son Ralden, are exceptional and I am really proud of the work done to date and the plans for the future – we can see lots of Ngopi coffee shops right across the UK because it really offers customers something very different that you cannot get elsewhere.”