Eighty-eight degrees out. Weather app says it feels like 97. Seventy percent humidity. Not a cloud in the sky to shield the scalding sun. Even the taxi drivers are commenting how hot it is. What could possibly sound better than a cup of coffee? Just about anything. Except in this case.
An unexpected meeting with a coffee and tea plantation, seemingly out in the middle of nowhere, was a pleasant surprise this week. As tea and coffee production have their place in the Bali economy, I thought it a good idea to learn more about these native crops. Some friendly folks from England and I were escorted through the tropical grounds stopping for a look and taste of various locally grown fruits and nuts. The prickly jackfruit. Football-sized cacao pods. Adorably plump mangosteens. Things I had never seen before. All routinely used in Balinese products.
Upon the end of our mini-trek, we were sat at a shaded outdoor table for a surprise bonus tea and coffee tasting. The small appealing jars filled with vivid, powdery hues were set out and spooned into dainty glass cups. The three of us leisurely indulged on every colorful, flavorful type available like we were dames in a British tea parlor. Sharing opinions and discussing impressions with every sip. We were having such a good time! And as each brew's healing benefits were revealed, it became clearer that the place might be sealing its fate to have to kick us out later.
We also got a lesson in the famous Indonesian Luwak coffee; one of the most expensive in the world. Let me break this sought-after delicacy down for you. Coffee berry. Mongoose. Poop. Brew. Consume. Basically, a mongoose-type animal, a civet, eats the coffee berries (how is it possible that I never knew a coffee bean is found inside a coffee berry?) and through the fermentation process in its digestive tract, the special beans are pooped out and harvested for this exquisite coffee. I actually unintentionally tried Luwak coffee the first morning I was here. The menu said Indonesian coffee so I thought "When in Rome!". Perhaps the jet lag was at play, but I didn't necessarily think it was worth all the craze. So when your fave coffee place starts charging $20 a cup for trendy Luwak, just remember that the locals here call it "Cat-poop-cino".
Perhaps I'll just stick with my favorite-tasting teas of the experience: Mangosteen (a good anti-oxidant), Lemongrass (good for circulation) and Turmeric (good anti-biotic and for the skin). I'm no expert but just maybe my coffee phase has pooped out.
Sampai kemudian! (Until later in Indonesian)
Cacao pod from which cocoa and chocolate are made
The prickly jackfruit
A bevy of beverages
English pals and I in our jungle tasting room