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Meet Michael Riady of Tentera Coffee Roasters in Downtown LA

Today we’d like to introduce you to Michael Riady.

Michael, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Many years ago, I went on vacation to Scotland and came across the highly specialized local whisky industry from across all parts of the country. The whisky industry is very focused on its country of origin, whether its Scotch, Japanese or American made. They are all great and highly experiential because local owners/producers, for many generations, focused on there on what they know best – their backyard. This applies to wine industry as well.

I love coffee and wonder why the coffee industry has been the opposite. Coffee has not been marketed by country of origin as a primary focus, but by a generic brand without any trace of a local producer and/or family tradition. When it comes to a consumable commodity such as whisky, wine and coffee, premium commodity can only be grown in certain parts of the world hence country of origin is the most important starting point. Coffee is grown best on the equator and Indonesia – located at the heart of it – for the last 400 years has been synonymous with premium coffee since the Dutch traders brought the famous Sumatra, Java and Bali coffee to Europe.

Hence, Tentera is a premium specialty coffee brand with a focus exclusively from the 13,000 islands of Indonesia, founded by a five-generation local Indonesian family from farm to cup. Consumers appreciate authentic premium products with roots of tradition and direct traceback. If you want the best Japanese Sushi, you will find a Japanese chef behind the bar serving you. It’s the same analogy. If you want the best Indonesian coffee, you find the Indonesian roaster. Tentera is all about authenticity, tradition and quality of Indonesia’s best and brand you can count on.

It’s incredible to hear all the history and success of Tentera over the years but overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Coffee industry is mostly taken for granted if you do not understand the process. To make a great cup of coffee, it starts from the geographic location soil, weather, planting, harvesting, processing techniques, farmers, patience, packaging, logistics, roasting, equipment and a great barista. There are many variables along the supply chain which makes it challenging, but at the same time, fun because you can experiment many things and the outcome varies. In terms of our business, I think the biggest challenge for us is to get consumers to be aware, educated and more important, try better coffee so they can realize and compare quality of cups. We have seen over and over that once consumers steps out of their comfort zone and gets curiosity going and try our coffee, they switched.

Please tell us more about the business. Is there anything that coffee lovers should know more about the brand?
We are known for premium specialty coffee exclusively from the 13,000 islands of Indonesia. Indonesian coffee islands includes Sumatra, Java, Bali, Toraja, Flores, Papua and more. Tentera only focus on one country, and single origins at its best. We believe in authenticity as well as the founder is a five generations Indo family. I tell people if they want Ethiopian or Colombian coffee, we are not the best because we will never be better than them. Our forte is our backyard that has been around for 400 years since the Dutch traders bring back coffee to Europe and now all over the world. We do not want to be Indonesian selling non-Indonesian coffee. This is our brand and belief value. The more specialize we are, the better we serve our coffee customer lovers.

Another thing more important is Tentera means to fight for a good cause in greater extended meaning from the Bahasa Indonesia language. We hope that every cup of Tentera can give back to support the environment and wildlife since coffee is highly correlated to plantations and rainforests and wildlife. Coffee is the 2nd largest most traded commodity in the world, and coffee can help fund conservation projects on a sustainable basis. So coffee is more powerful and most people don’t realize it.

What were you like growing up?
I’m just a normal person like everyone else. I’ve been drinking coffee since high school and fascinated by international business and love to travel and experience different cultures. I think that came from my early school years in an international school system where I was surrounded with friends from all over the world. Hence, I wanted to share with the world about Indonesian coffee directly. I’m also a Virgo, which tend to be very peculiar and specific of how things must be done, hence I do not compromise when it comes to quality and don’t take short cuts and I expect things done in a certain way to reach perfection.

Contact Info:

  • Address: 2500 S. Alameda Street, Suite 2500, Vernon, CA 90058 (roaster)
  • Website: www.tenteracoffee.com
  • Phone: 323 232 5665
  • Email: support@tenteracoffee.com
  • Instagram: tenteracoffee
  • Facebook: tenterabrand

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