I was recently in Bali. The first part of my trip was packed with travel. First, to familiarize myself a bit with Southern Bali and then to visit the temples of Prabanan and Borobudur near Yogyakarta on Java.
While visiting a friend in Sanur, she told me that the best coffee around was at Kopi Bali. We went there for morning coffee and it was excellent. I didn't have my camera so went back later in the afternoon to take some photo's. The coffee shop has a display of old coffee related grinders and equipment mixed in with modern espresso machines for sale. One area of shelving was normal coffee shop items like cups, stove top espresso makers, press pots and so forth. On the other side of the shop were odd or unusual items: coffee essential oil, coffee candles and framed coffee art? I noticed a flight of stairs behind me and headed up.
At the top of the stairs, I noticed a pair of glass doors leading to the art gallery. Once inside, I was looking around when I was approached by a very friendly and helpful man who asked if I knew about the art work? I assumed it was art work until he informed me that all the paintings had coffee in them. Amazing!
As we visited more and he shared information about their coffee, where it comes from, what type of beans they use for their roast etc, he asked me if I had tried their Kopi Luwak yet? I'd seen it that morning in beautifully packaged little containers which sold for $20.00. He asked if I had time as he wanted to share it with me.
The Luwak or Asian Palm Civet is a small cat like creature. It eats the ripe coffee cherry, it's digestive tract breaks down the proteins that produce some of coffee's bitterness and then the bean is excreted. When the coffee cherries ripen, they serve as the primary source of food for the civet. They only eat ripened cherries so they would be the perfect coffee harvester. Once collected and processed, they are lightly roasted to protect the unique flavor of the beans.
The man who was helping me, Mr. Agung, is the manager of Kopi Bali in Sanur. He's only been in the coffee business for 6 months but was a food and beverage manager for 7 years with a large hotel. I was impressed by the coffee knowledge he gained in a short time. Wish some of my local coffee shops were that dedicated!
His assistant brought me a book on the coffee art gallery and they both went to make preparations. A short while later, they returned with a small packet of Kopi Luwak, a tray with an espresso cup, sugar, cream and a portable gas stove with stove top espresso maker. The packet of Kopi Luwak is really small, about 8 ounces. They said the best way to make it is with the stove top espresso maker. The grind is a bit coarser than espresso (grainy for my coffee friends and the coffee ladies).
They put enough water in the espresso maker to make about two ounces of coffee, added the 8 ounces of Kopi Luwak and waited for the water to boil and rush through to the top container. The smell was great. It has an earthy taste, very light acidity on the front of the tongue (an acidity I have never experienced) and hints of nut, chocolate and fruit flavor/aroma. Their tradition is to sip the first cup straight and to dd sugar and milk to the second. This is among the top two or three cups of espresso I have ever had.
Which ones, for those who are interested: Cinnamon Bay Zoom, Cafe D'Arte Firenze, Conscious Coffee (a special blend for the Mountain Region Barista Championships).
My little one ounce cup of coffee would have cost $20.00 US had it not been gifted to me. They had a gift box for $150.00 that would make about 10 tiny cups.
Once I arrived on the in Yogyakarta on Java, I saw Kopi Bali on the menu in several restaurants. The coffee in Bali was Rp. $200,000 while it was listed at Rp. $15,000 in Java. Because of it's popularity, it is often diluted with other beans and still sold as Kopi Luwak. I felt blessed to have such a professional and personal experience with it.
See my photo's for images of the coffee art, Kopi Luwak and other coffee experiences I had there.