I was browsing through the experiences listed on Airbnb and found a very interesting activity to do in Bali. A coffee plantation tour in Kintamani. As someone who likes drinking coffee, I thought to myself that I gotta try this. I booked the experience for my boyfriend and I. It turned out we were the only participants on that day. There were us, a tour guide named Feny and Bapak Gede as our driver.
The whole experience took around 7 hours, mainly because of the drive to go there and back to our hotel. Bapak Gede picked us up from the hotel where we stayed in Ubud and we went to Kintamani. It was cold there as we were in the elevated area where the coffee plantation was located. Around 1,200 meters from the sea level. All drive long, we could see the tall trees and the mountain from afar.
Feny and Bapak Gede were very friendly and we didn’t feel that it was a long road to Kintamani because of the fun conversations that we had. She was also very polite to speak in English because my boyfriend doesn’t speak Bahasa, I really appreciated that she was trying to include everybody in the conversation.
We started the tour by going into the coffee plantation, each person equipped with a cone hat and a sling bag in their shoulder. The hat is needed to protect the head from spikes and tree branches. The farmers don’t plant coffee only, but other fruit trees like mandarin, pomelo, and guava.
Feny explained that coffee plants like growing under the shades of other plants. They still need the sunlight to grow of course, but not as much as other plants. It’s also good for farmers to plant other fruits because they can sell them too when it’s not coffee harvest time yet.
The big harvest time for coffee happens twice a year. When we went there, some coffee cherries can be harvested already. But Feny told us that all the coffee cherries will be ripe and ready to harvest in May or June. That’s the time when most of the cherries will be red.
Since it was not harvest time yet, finding the ripe red cherries became a challenging task for us and we enjoyed it a lot. I got some coffee cherries and guava to eat. Feny picked a ripe pomelo that we enjoyed later. How fun it was!
Once the cherries were collected, we separated the good ones from the bad ones. There were some cherries that have empty beans and we don’t take them. Feny taught us how to tell whether or not the cherries are empty. Put all the cherries in the bucket full of water, then we can see the empty ones are floating. Wow, I never knew this before!
I tried one of the ripe cherries and it tasted sweet. No wonder Luwaks like eating coffee cherries. We peeled the skins from the cherries to have the beans. Then the selected beans were dried. After they were dried, we take a handful of them and prepare the stove to roast them. The roasting process was up to us, if we wanted to make the coffee blonde, we could roast until the beans turned light brown and longer if we wanted a darker color.
We put the roasted beans into resealable paper bags and named them. We took some roasted beans and ground them, then poured water on it. Ahh, finally we got to taste the coffee that we made by ourselves.
This coffee plantation tour was pleasant and I would highly recommend anyone who loves drinking coffee to experience it. I hope more people will be introduced to the local coffee culture and appreciate the coffee farmers’ work to bring us the beverage that we love.
The story behind Luwak Coffee
Back to the time when Indonesia was still colonised by The Dutch, the farmers were prohibited from picking the cherries and making coffee for their own consumption. Curious of how the beverage tasted like, they were collecting the digested cherries from Luwak’s poop. Luwak would only eat the cherries, but the coffee beans inside remain undigested. Naturally Luwaks are pests to the coffee plantation, but if it wasn’t because of them, the farmers could not taste coffee during the colonial time.
The would collect the poop and take the beans and wash them. The washed beans would be dried, roasted and grounded. That’s how they drink the ‘naturally processed’ coffee. It was really good and soon the Dutch came to know it and try it. Because of the complicated process, Luwak Coffee was expensive and became well-known among the rich. Unfortunately, the farmers were back to the state when they could not afford to drink the famous coffee. How ironic.
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