Among the archipelago nation of Indonesia lies its hidden jewel—the island of Bali.
The Kintamani highlands—where most of Bali’s coffee is grown—sits atop a large volcanic plateau between 1300-1700 meters altitude. The eruption of the Gunung Agung Volcano in 1963 caused a delay in the progress of cultivation on Bali. In response to this situation, the government enacted programs in the 1970’s and 1980’s to help rejuvenate production. With the distribution of coffee seedlings to local farmers, an island-wide coffee growing campaign began. Today, the coffee growing area in Bali is an estimated 7,500 hectares.
Coffee tree varieties include a high percentage of Bourbon and Typica, along with shade trees such as Erythrina, Albizia, Tangerine, and Orange. Even if not legally certified “organic,” all Bali coffees are, in fact, organic as the use of pesticides is prohibited on Bali and all fertilizers are 100% organic.
Similar to farmer cooperatives, Bali coffees are grown by smallholder farmers who are members of Subak Abians—a traditional farming structure in Bali. There are 13 Subak Abians that currently grow and process coffee. The promotion of improved coffee growing practices is expected to enhance not only agricultural technology, but social and economic standing in Bali as well.
Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today we’re sipping the Bali Kintamani Natural, from Sunergos Coffee in Louisville, Kentucky. Feel free to pull up a chair.
region: Kintamani, Bali, Indonesia
producer: smallholder farmers
elevation: 1299 – 1699 meters above sea level
cultivars: Bourbon, Typica, Djember
The aroma of the Bali Kintamani is fantastic. Sweet and fragrant, characterized by scents of strawberry, vanilla, honey, and cherry blossoms.
Taking my first few sips of the cup immediately post-brew, my palate is greeted by a creamy, full-bodied coffee that envelopes the tongue. This is a sweet coffee, but subtly so, with notes of honey, cherry, strawberry milk, and vanilla cream. It’s also mellow; surprisingly mellow for a natural Indonesian coffee. It does bring the funk of a natural Indonesian coffee, though—earth, musty oak, soft cherry wine tannins, and roast; and I think that works against the sweetness more than it complements it.
As the coffee quickly approaches room temperature, the bottom really drops out from under it. Like most natural coffees I’ve experienced over the past few years, this Bali Kintamani threw everything it had at my palate up front and didn’t save anything for the finish.
Full body; creamy mouthfeel; berry acidity; clean finish.
I really wrestled with this one; a real struggle to get it dialed in just right. I think, though, after several tries, I finally got it. I have to say, though, that I was still a little disappointed with the results.
I liked the flavor profile while it was piping hot—full-bodied, creamy, sweet, and a little rustic (earth and oak)—but once it got down to around room temperature, the bottom fell out from under it and it almost completely collapsed. This is usually my experience with naturals.
I wonder, though, if Sunergos Coffee’s Bali Kintamani might be pretty great as an SOE.
Andrew is a husband, father, dog lover, craft beverage enthusiast, content creator, and niche market Internet celebrity. Formerly of A Table in the Corner of the Cafe and The Pulitzer Project and contributor to Barista Magazine and Mental Floss, he’s been writing on the Internet for years.