Blind Barista Determined to Serve Best Coffee in Town

JAKARTA : Ahmad Hilmy Almusawa is no ordinary barista.

Ten years ago, Hilmy had completely lost his sight to glaucoma, an eye condition that damaged his optic nerve. His blindness, however, does not stop the 22-year-old from serving a nice cup of coffee at Mata Hati Koffie in South Tangerang, Banten.

Ahmad Hilmy Almusawa, 22, poses for the Jakarta Globe in front of his coffee shop in South Tangerang, Banten on Friday (24/07). (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)

At the age of five, Hilmy and his grandmother flew to Sydney, Australia, to consult a pediatric glaucoma expert. He also underwent three surgeries in attempt to recover his eyesight.

“When I was a little boy, I could see for a while. There is no cure for this, but we can prevent it from getting worse. I had an eye surgery thrice, well, it turns out that it was already God’s destiny,” he told the Jakarta Globe on Friday.

From then on, his mother becomes his eyes. Every time they travel, she explains to him about his surroundings. 
“Mama doesn’t want me to be a child who lacks knowledge despite having disability,” Hilmy said.

After returning from Sydney, Hilmy’s mother learned Braille at a foundation for disabled persons. She later taught her son the tactile writing system by putting Braille labels in every room and object in the house. Thanks to the motherly love, Hilmy learnt to accept his disability and focused on sharpening his sense of touch to read Braille.

At Mata Hati Koffie, Hilmy dreams of serving the best brown sugar iced coffee in town.

Before opening the cafe, Hilmy first learned the ropes of coffee making at local coffee roaster Tadi Pagi. The visually impaired man found it difficult at the beginning, but he eventually managed to get a good grip of steaming milk and made espresso.

All three baristas running Mata Hati Koffie, including Hilmy, have disabilities. Hilmy hopes that they all not only learn to adapt, but regain confidence and become independent despite their disabilities.

Hilmy works as a barista in Mata Hati Koffie in South Tangerang, Banten on Friday (24/07). (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
Hilmy brews coffee at Mata Hati Koffie in South Tangerang, Banten on Friday. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
Hilmy reads braille on the top of coffee container before serve a cup a coffee at Mata Hati Koffie in South Tangerang, Banten on Friday (24/07). (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
Hilmy reads the Braille on top of a coffee container at Mata Hati Koffie coffee shop in South Tangerang. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
Hilmy serves a cup of brown sugar coffee at Mata Hati Koffie in South Tangerang, Banten on Friday (24/07). (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
Hilmy serves a cup of brown sugar coffee. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
Digital photograph restoration - Hilmy played with his sister at a playground. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
In this digitally restored photograph, Hilmy in his childhood and his little sister sit on a swing chair. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
Digital photograph restoration - Hilmy got eye surgery in Sidney, Australia. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
Hilmy underwent eye surgery in Sydney, Australia, when he was five years old. (Restored family photo/Yudha Baskoro)
Digital photograph restoration - Hilmy played with his mother. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
A toddler Hilmy plays with his mother. (Restored family photo/Yudha Baskoro)
Hilmy and his mother at the kitchen at Mata Hati Koffie in South Tangerang, Banten on Friday (24/07). (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
Hilmy and his mother check customer orders at Mata Hati Koffie coffee shop in South Tangerang. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
Hilmy gives coffee orders from customers to online motorcycle taxi drivers at Mata Hati Koffie in South Tangerang, Banten on Friday (24/07). (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
A motorcycle taxi driver receives takeaway coffee from Hilmy. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
Hilmy sits in front of his coffee shop in South Tangerang, Banten on Friday (24/07). (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
Hilmy sits in front of his coffee shop in South Tangerang, Banten on Friday. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)

“I hope I can open a new store that employs people with disabilities. I would like to live life to the absolute fullest and never stop fighting,” Hilmy said.

BY :YUDHA BASKORO – THE JAKARTA GLOBE

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s