For coffee drinkers travelling in Bali there are plenty of opportunities to get your caffeine fix, however you need to be aware that whenever you order a coffee you may not always get what you were expecting.
Indonesia is well known as a quality producer of coffee, though whether the good stuff makes it to the local market is unknown.
If you go to a local warung and order coffee, it will usually come Bali style. It will be the cheapest coffee at less than a dollar, but may not be to your taste. The way they make the coffee here is to just mix the very fine coffee grounds in hot water, usually no milk is added. If you do want milk, often you can only get creamer. If you do get milk, it may be UHT which we all have our opinion about that. We always add lots of sugar and milk to make it palatable, or avoid it completely!
I’m not going to say that the Bali coffee is bad, just that they make it differently and it is not to my liking. I know many people may not like the coffee I make myself, with plenty of milk and sugar. We all have our preferred way of drinking it, or not drinking it at all. That is part of travelling, experiencing the differences between cultures. At least here when you have had enough of trying the local brew, at least there are many other options to try.
Another coffee type you may come across in Bali is luwak coffee (Kopi Luwak), marketed mostly to tourists as the most expensive coffee in the world. Luwak coffee is not socially responsible as the possum-like luwak animal (Asian palm civet), are being caught in the wild and kept in cages to do their business. The luwak eats the coffee beans, which are subsequently excreted and collected. The collected beans are roasted and brewed just like other coffee. The coffee is served short and black, Bali style, with no milk and usually with the grounds in the cup, but you can have sugar. Quite a nice tasting coffee, but very strong. It is expensive as it is rare, not necessarily because of the flavour.
The most likely place you will try luwak coffee is as a part of a tour. You will visit a plantation, see some luwaks in a cage, be shown some local fruit trees, then be served a sample of flavoured coffees and teas. You can get some pretty interesting flavours – ginger, lemongrass, chili, chocolate.
Another way of enjoying coffee here in Bali is instant. Instant coffee here is much different than found in Australia. It comes already mixed with sugar and powdered milk, which makes sense with the difficulty of getting fresh milk here. Our favourite brand ‘Indocafe’ can be found in Australia, but there are huge numbers of different varieties to choose from here.
For those who need their coffee fix like back home, there are plenty of cafés where you can find western-style coffee. There’s a Starbucks in Ubud, but that is not as popular as many trendier cafés. The best by far is our favourite Seniman on Jalan Sriwedari, which has a large selection of coffees. Another place we like is Animale on the Ubud main road, expensive but good coffee.
Many other places have invested in commercial coffee machines, but not all of them have a good barista to back it up. Drinking western style coffee means paying western prices. A cappuccino can cost between $3-4, as much as we (used to) pay back in Australia.
At home in our villa we use bought coffee grounds from our favourite café, and make it in our stove-top percolator. It is difficult to heat up milk so we usually have an iced coffee. Actually in the heat an iced coffee is often our first choice.
Depending on where you buy it, an iced coffee from a café or restaurant can be made from espresso, Bali coffee or packet coffee. You can also buy cold coffee in a can from the deli.
As you can see there are many options for the coffee drinker in Bali. Whichever way you like you coffee, you won’t have far to go in Ubud to find one.