Most coffees that grow within Indonesia have origins from the coffee plants brought by the Dutch in 1699. However, coffee plants were brought to Bali at the start of the 20th century by traders from Lombok, an Indonesian island directly east of Bali. These coffee plants from Lombok were of the Coffea Robusta varietal, making them more resistant to disease. To compete in the global coffee market coffee producers in Bali began to also grow Coffee Arabica as well.
Prior to the integration of Coffea Arabica in Bali’s coffee market, the region was able to grow solely Coffea Robusta. This came in part from the favorable growing conditions on the island. With rich, mineral-dense volcanic soil and perfect coffee-growing climate, the quality of Robusta coffees that Bali was producing was up to par with Arabicas.
Hindu and Quality of Bali Coffee Beans
The quality of Bali coffee beans could also be affected by Hinduism. The majority of the island is Hindu, and farmers follow the philosophy of Tri Hita Karana. The basis of the “three causes of well-being” are: harmony with God, harmony with nature, and harmony with fellow man. Farmers who follow this morale, generally don’t believe in using chemicals or pesticides to modify nature, making most coffee produced in Bali organic. Sometimes however, farmers cannot afford organic certification, but still cultivate coffee in an organic manner. Small local farmers cooperatively organize their harvest in Subak Abians which help ensure fair compensation.
Coffee Growing Regions in Bali
The largest growing region of Bali coffee beans is located in the northern highlands and called Kintamani. With the village being home to multiple cultivation efforts like citrus and vegetables, coffee plants are affected by neighboring crops. Kintamani received the Geographical indication award in 2008, ensuring that coffee produced from the region is high-grade quality. Coffee from this region generally has soft, dark chocolate flavors with low acidity and full body.
Kopi Luwak Coffee
Although the infamous Kopi Luwak coffee originated in Java, Indonesia, it is also produced in Bali. This type of coffee is harvested from the feces of a civet-like animal called the Luwak and sold for over $45 a cup. The digestive processes of the mammal help to release acids in the coffee and create distinctive flavor profiles. However, due to the extreme popularity of this commodity, Luwaks are now being exploited. Forced into tiny enclosures and force-fed coffee cherries, some animals die from caffeine overdose. Throughout the country, people are trying to eradicate the methods used to obtain this type of coffee, to properly align with the Hindu principles.