The Art of Making Coffee -Traditional Style

Sometime ago, I wrote a post about the art of appreciating coffee, the insights of what I’ve learnt about a good cup of coffee and trying my hand at coffee art. In this post, I’m actually going to try my hand at making coffee from scratch the traditional way in a Bali.

The first step is to harvest the ripe coffee cherries from the coffee plant. Coffee cherries turn a bright deep red when they are ready for harvesting. Ripeness is determined by appearance and touch. Gently squeeze the fruit. If ripe, it will be slightly soft and give a little under the pressure. In the village I was in, they still harvest the coffee cherries selectively by hand.

Next, squeeze the cherries to separate the seed or the coffee bean from the fruit. In each cherry, there will usually be 2 seeds which is your “coffee beans”.  Before you can extract the coffee seeds, you would first need to sort, clean and dry the cherries in the sun  for about 3 to 4 weeks. After the seeds have been successfully extracted, the coffee bean are the color graded manually remove discolored or defective beans.

It was time to get the fire going so that we can start to roast the coffee beans! The heat is intense and roasting coffee is hard work! I think they used the leaves to help determine the roasting temperature. This part was slightly lost in translation due to the language barrier.

The coffee beans must be in constant motion to prevent scorching or uneven roasting. There’s a lot of arm muscle involved because the coffee beans must be agitated constantly for an even roast. At a minimum, beans must be stirred every 30 seconds. In 4- 7 minutes the beans will start to make crackling sounds. At this time the vegetable smells will dissipate and familiar coffee smelling smoke will start to appear.

Other than just time and temperature, roasting coffee is a true art for these experience Balinese. They use color, smell and sound as well to determine how long to roast the coffee. Once the beans get hot enough they start to crackle as the water in the coffee turns to steam and is forced out. There are two distinct stages of cracking, commonly referred to first and second crack. By the second crack, the coffee beans should suitable for a medium body coffee taste.

Once the beans are roasted to your satisfaction, immediately remove from heat and pour into a large metal colander to cool. Toss or stir the beans to remove excess chaff and speed the cooling process.

The next phase is the grinding of the coffee beans. There is no electric grinder in the village so huge granite mortar and a large wooden pestle is used.

I was pretty exhausted at this point. I’m not really cut out for manual labour though I give it my all!

After what seems like ages, the seeds break down in to lovely coffee powder.

My work is not done yet though.

I still need to put the ground coffee through a sieve to remove unwanted remnants and impurities.

The result is nice finely grounded coffee powder!

How do I reward myself after a hard day of work?

It’s coffee time of course!

My cup of black coffee with cinnamon stick used as a stirrer.

Fresh fruit plucked from a nearby tree.

And steamed then fried tapioca that the lady villager made for me.

A wonderful end to a knowledgeable afternoon. I hope you enjoyed seeing how traditional coffee is made as well as learning about coffee from tree to cup.

In case you were wondering, Bali is also known for producing Kopi Luwak or civet cat coffee which is one of the world’s most expensive coffee.

“Producers of the coffee beans argue that the process may improve coffee through two mechanisms, selection and digestion. Selection occurs if the civets choose to eat coffee cherries containing better beans. Digestive mechanisms may improve the flavor profile of the coffee beans that have been eaten. The civet eats the berries for the beans’ fleshy pulp, then in the digestive tract, fermentation occurs. The civet’s proteolytic enzymes seep into the beans, making shorter peptides and more free amino acids.Passing through a civet’s intestines the beans are then defecated with other fecal matter and collected.” – wikipedia

In other words, it’s coffee made with civet cat poo. It’s really gross and I have not once been tempted to try it even though I was offered several times.

Apparently since supplies cannot meet the demands, they have been force feeding civet cat coffee beans which really defeats the whole purpose and leads to animal cruelty.

The village home that I chose to try my hand a coffee making does not produce Kopi Luwak. It does however keep a resident civet cat which was born on their compounds. It’s really strange coming face to face with the animal whose poo has become so ridiculously valuable!


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