Most Balinese coffee is grown in the Kintamani Highlands, an area between the Batukaru and Gunung Agung volcanoes. This area has rich, fertile soil, and most farmers are members of a traditional farming system called Subak Abian, which is based on a Hindu philosophy and focuses on environmental unity. As a result, almost all coffee growers in this region focus on organic growing practices and avoid using agrochemicals.
In 1963, the Gunung Agung volcano erupted, destroying most existing coffee farms, and it took almost 15 years for normal production to resume. The government played a large role in reviving the coffee industry in the late 1970’s to early 1980’s by giving farmers coffee seedlings. The industry is now booming; there is now an estimated 7,500 hectares of growing area in the region, and it continues to expand.
Many farmers plant tangerine and orange trees, as well as permanent shade trees such as Erythrina, Albizia, and Leucaena, between rows of coffee trees for diversification and to provide shade to the coffee trees. This level of shade intensity greatly improves the quality of the coffee. Farmers prune the plants meticulously using a single stem system, and after harvesting, sort through and discard any cherries that don’t meet their incredibly high quality standards.
They begin their harvest in May or June and finish in September or October. After sorting, the entire cherry is cleaned and placed in the sun to dry on tables or patios. While drying, they are raked or turned by hand to prevent mildew and ensure even drying. Once they are dried, they are sent to a mill where the dried outer layers of the cherry are removed by a hulling machine.