After days spent wandering around idyllic Ubud, eating so much great food, playing with monkeys and doing a lot of walking, we were ready to see more of Bali.
With little time to spare, we opted for a full day tour that brought us to visit some temples, to see Mount and lake Batur and with a visit to a Bali coffee plantation thrown in.
Having discovered Lombok’s gritty coffee and falling in love, a trip to a coffee plantation sounded perfect.
Wandering around a coffee plantation in Bali
When we arrived, a guide led us around a small, lush garden area, pointing out the different plants growing.
There were different coffee plants, aloe vera, cinnamon, durian, jackfruit, ginger and more, all growing side by side. I even saw a pineapple growing for the first time, which I thought was really cool!
The different stages of coffee making at a Bali coffee plantation
After our stroll through the plants, we were shown how coffee is made. It was really interesting to see the beans evolve over the different stages of creating coffee.
First, the ripe coffee cherries are picked from the various coffee plants. The cherries are then left to dry out in the sun.
Once the cherries have dried out, the coffee bean inside is then removed. In the picture below, you can see cinnamon, cloves, ginger and vanilla from the coffee plantation all drying out too.
The beans are then roasted. In this case, they were roasted in a pan over a smokey fire.
Once the coffee beans are roasted, they look like the normal coffee beans you see in a coffee shop espresso machine.
The dried and roasted coffee beans are then ground up, using the tools below.
The result is lovely ground coffee that is then packaged and sold. Mmm, mmm!
Meeting the maker of the most expensive coffee in the world – Kopi Luwak
Did you know Bali is famous for the most expensive coffee in the word, that’s made from coffee beans found in the excrement of a small animal that looks like a cross between a ferret and a raccoon?
The Asian palm civet is responsible for creating kopi luwak, an expensive delicacy. What makes it so special? The fact that the beans are ingested by the civet, who then poops it out. The shy creatures eat only the best coffee cherries and excrete them without digesting the bean inside. The coffee bean is chemically altered after making its way through the civet’s intestines. Yum.
The coffee has a deep, complex and rich taste, with no acidity and hints of caramel. We were lucky enough to meet one of the civets.
There is a dark side to the luwak coffee trade. As its popularity grows, there are concerns about civets being kept in captivity and made to eat only coffee beans. In the past, the civet coffee beans were collected in the wild, but that is no longer the norm. You can still source ethical luwak coffee in Bali.
Tasting coffee at a Balinese coffee plantation
Next up came the most important part of our coffee plantation tour, the coffee tasting!
We were brought different cups containing coffee and tea. There was the option to sample the kopi luwak, but we chose not to pay extra for the pleasure, such a regret!
As a budget backpacker, I’ve always had to watch my money carefully. I usually don’t care if I’m on a shoestring budget so long as I’m out in the world, seeing new places. But sometimes, what seems like a big splurge at the time (like this coffee which cost more than a nights’ accommodation) is entirely worth it, and if you don’t do it, you will regret it.
Off the top of my head, I really regret not going to see the orangutans in Indonesia. Although it would have screwed my budget to a point that I would have been likely to run out of spending money in India, looking back now, I wish I had made it work. There’s a very fine line to balance as a budget backpacker; being careful with your money so you can travel longer, and at the same time knowing when to splurge for an amazing experience.
Anyway, no one in our group splurged on the coffee. We did try a number of coffees and teas, including ginger tea and ginseng coffee.
Feeling revived after our samples, we made our way through the gift shop before continuing on our tour. A trip to a coffee plantation in Bali is interesting and enjoyable, and when it’s part of a larger tour its a really nice addition to the day.