[S4:E3] Articles Read: Desa Ulian, Kintamani, Bali

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This is the audio version of an article Michael wrote about his first trip to origin. It describes the trip and what it was like to see, touch, and even taste coffee trees.


The original article is titled Desa Ulian, Kintamani, Bali

Published: July 01, 2014

The interview with Sami Yaffa: https://youtu.be/P1bS45YRjqE

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The music you were listening to is called Gamelan and it’s traditional cultural music from Bali. The specific piece is being performed by the Gamelan Semara Ratih of Ubu Bali. The recording is from Sound Tracker and um, there’s a really good interview online. I’ll link to it in the show notes, of Samami Yaa who did this great project where he traveled across Indonesia and and recorded various different pieces of music.

And this recording was one that he did in Bali of some of the cultural music there.

This is something new. I’m trying. So, uh, let’s see how it goes. I’m gonna read a blog article that I wrote several years ago. I got the idea from Thompson Owen of Sweet Maria’s it’s something that he does with his podcast, and I think it’s a great idea. I think it’s a good way to add a little bit more context to the article and then all, and then also let people hear the article in the author’s voice.

The first article that I’m gonna read is titled "Desa Ulian, Kintamani, Bali". I wrote this article after my very first trip to a coffee origin. At the time, my wife and I lived in Singapore, and um, I hadn’t been to a coffee farm yet. We had just moved to Singapore, from Alexandria, Virginia. And, uh, the way I, I got to the coffee farm was kind of interesting.

So when we first moved to Singapore, was visiting coffee shop each day trying to get a feel for the coffee scene there in Singapore. And each coffee shop I would talk to the um, whoever was serving me my coffee. And at this spec… Specific cafe, they had a HotTop roaster on display behind the counter.

And so the, the guy who waited on me turns out to be the owner of the cafe. His name is Aji. And, um, we got to talking about the roaster and he eventually told me that he knows coffee farmers in Indonesia. And if he wanted me, if I wanted to, he could make the introduction. And Aji is Indonesian, by the way.

So of course I took him up on it and he introduced me to, Iwa, who is, who lives in Bali and whose parents own a coffee farm. I traded emails with Iwa and he said, um, sure you can come and visit. I’ll pick you up at the airport. And, uh, so my wife and I went to Bali and, um, stayed for a long weekend. And as part of that I reached out to Ajie. I’m sorry, I reached out to Iwa and we made this co we made this trip to visit his village and see some of his farms. And um, I remember the excitement when we finally reached elevation and he started pointing out coffee farms on the side along the side of the road because I had never, I had seen a coffee tree years ago, um, somebody brought one to an SCA Roaster’s Guild event. And it was just a small tree that had recently flowered. And, um, whoever was giving the lecture past the tree around the forest to smell the flower, it was in a pot. But I had never seen, uh, cultivated coffee in the field. So it was incredibly exciting for me to get out of the truck and start walking among the coffee trees and feel them, touch them.

Um, Iwa popped, the cherry off, and showed me how to, um, pop the seed outta the cherry and taste it. And um, you know, it was, it was quite, uh, I don’t wanna use the term magical, but it was, it was inspiring and it was, we often romanticize in the west, we often romanticize coffee production because it’s so distant to us and it feels so romantic, you know, so when I came back from that trip, I, there were a lot of emotions around that trip.

A lot of really good emotions. So the, uh, the article hopefully reflects that. So here’s the article. It was published July 1st, 2014.

I’ve just returned from my first Coffee to origin trip to Kintamani in northern Bali. Kintamani is a region situated just west of an active volcano, Mount Batur. Locally known as Gunung Batur. The region is mo moderately elevated with an average altitude of 1500 meters and contains fertile volcanic soil. Two important factors for growing quality coffee shrubs.

In Kintamani it is tradition for the smaller landholders to form co-ops called subak abian. These co-ops are formed for a number of reasons, including the ability to share resources such as processing mills, which can be prohibitively expensive for the single farmer.

In the case of Subak Abian Ulian Murni, the mill consists of a pulper machine, fermentation tanks, which are no longer used, drying areas, raised beds called para para, and a pseudo lab area where roasters, grinders, et cetera, with roasters, grinders, et cetera.

Ulian Murni consists of around 60 small landowners who manage a total of almost 70 hectares. The average amount of land owned is 2.7 hectares, though not, not all Land is for coffee and the subak produces around 30 tons of coffee per year, and that’s based on 2010 numbers. I was staying in a hotel in Southern Bali and Iwa, my gracious host and. guide, picked me up at the hotel and we drove two hours before stopping for lunch in a small village just before we started the drive into the mountains. He introduced me to Klepon; sweet coconut rice balls, an Indonesian dessert. After lunch, we hit the road again, but the roads had become very narrow, barely as wide as a single car, so the going was slow as we twisted and turned our way up the roads passing small villages and large rice paddies. Villages in this area are typically bordered by stone walls and have their own small markets, temples, et cetera, within the walls. Bali is majority Hindu, and it is quite evident in the architecture, which is strikingly beautiful and often very ornate.

As we were driving up the mountain, we stopped at three different farm plots along the way. The coffee shrubs were about one to one and a half meters tall, and were all evenly spaced with mandarin trees interspersed to provide shade. It’s harvest season, so I got to see red, ripe cherries, which have a very subtle sweet flavor when eaten. I also tasted a coffee flour, which tasted like a soft jasmine tea would taste. The smell of the coffee flower is very delicate and subtle, and similar to the smell of a gardenia, or even a jasmine flower.

In Kintamani, they adhere to organic farming methods, so no agrochemicals are used. Fertilizer is chicken and cow, dung and rice husks, rice husks are used for mulch.

Anyone in the village is welcome to come and pick coffee for roughly 10 cents a kilo in pay. Sometimes entire families will come and pick from sunup to sundown.

Once picked, the coffee is sorted again, this time by density. They’re placed in water for sorting. Ripe cherries are denser and sync to the bottom, while underdeveloped cherries will float and are set aside to be sold locally at a discounted price. Quote; "there’s a home for every bean."

After density sorting they are run through a machine that removes the pulp, which is the cherry skin and most of Muc mucusy mucilage. And then the beans go to fermentation tanks where the remaining mucilage is broken down by the fermentation process. After fermenting overnight, the beans are washed of their mucilage, and again, sorted by density then finally spread out to dry, either on patios or raised beds, locally called para para. They’ll dry for about three weeks until the green beans reach around 12% moisture content.

Most of the shrubs planted on these farms are S795 purchased from the government, but they’re also currently planting more saplings, which have been produced by existing trees.

These little saplings grow in the shade under the coffee shrub. They can can be directly transplant when they have around six leaves, any fewer, and they go to a nursery until they get their six leaves. That age or determination can vary farm to farm.

Thanks for listening. My name is Michael, and this was my article titled Desa Ulian, Kintamani, Bali, about my first trip to origin. I hope you enjoyed it.