After we left the volcano, we had some time to kill before lunch. It felt weird accomplishing so much all before 10 in the morning.
Our driver, Made, was the best. He was younger than us, so we treated him like a kid brother. He'd probably never had to drive around a group quite like us. When my friends and I are together, we regress until our mental maturity hovers closer to around that of a six year old. Our priorities are also kind of skewed. We explained to Made that our number one priority was food. We really didn't care where we went in-between food stops. We were completely fine with letting him decide where to go next as long as we got to eat tasty stuff.
Made was taken aback at first, but he quickly grasped how we rolled and soon he was joking right along with us.
The first place Made took us to was Pura Tirta Empul, a beautiful water temple. Balinese people take their ceremonies very seriously. According to Made, the Balinese perform ceremonies just about every chance they get. When they buy a new car, when they open their business in the morning, etc. Pura Tirta Empul was packed the day we visited because there was to be a full moon that night.
After the water temple, our next stop was Bali Pulina:
Bali Pulina is a luwak coffee plantation. If you haven't heard of luwak coffee before, boy, are you going to enjoy this.
The place is obviously designed for tourists. Upon entering, a guide greets you and takes you through a quick tour of the luwak coffee process. First comes the arabica coffee berries:
Then comes the luwak. What's a luwak, you ask? It's this little guy:
In English, it's called the Asian palm civet. This cat-like animal eats the coffee berries and then...poops out the beans. The pooped out beans are collected, dried, shelled, and roasted:
Then it's ground and made into coffee or kopi as the Indoneasians call it. Kopi luwak is known as the most expensive coffee in the world. That's right. The most expensive coffee in the world is cat poop coffee. Or as our guide calls it, cat-poop-cino.
Hardy har har.
After our little tour, we were taken to the tasting area:
The only tasting that costs money is the kopi luwak. One tiny cup costs 50,000 IDR or slightly over $4:
The rest of the tasting is free. And refillable. You get an array of teas and coffees to try:
From left to right: lemon tea, ginger tea, ginger coffee, ginseng coffee, chocolate coffee, pure cocoa, vanilla coffee, and Bali coffee.
Everything besides the kopi luwak, pure cocoa, and Bali coffee were super, super sweet. Serious coffee drinkers like CL and my sister weren't too impressed. Whereas I, a certified coffee hater who only likes it in ice cream form, was in heaven. It was like drinking melted coffee candy from a cup.
After trying the Bali coffee, we realized that the coffee we'd had every morning at Jepun Didulu was actually prepared correctly. All along we'd assumed that we'd been given instant coffee that hadn't been dissolved all the way. We didn't say anything because we didn't want to offend Alec and his wife. But when we found the same thick sludge at the bottom of the Bali coffee at Bali Pulina, we realized our error. Apparently Bali coffee is supposed to be like that. You carefully drink the coffee and leave the sludge alone.
The whole point of the excursion was the kopi luwak. I sipped it just so I would be able to say that I've tried it before. I kind of wish I hadn't. It was so...strong. And it tasted like no other coffee I've ever had. I can't explain the taste. Pungent? Nasty? Even CL and my sister wrinkled their noses at the taste. Adding sugar to it only made it worse.
The one thing all of us enjoyed was the palate cleanser:
The flavor of the spices on these sweet potato chips was just divine. We asked our guide if we could buy the chips and he looked at us like we were crazy. The world's most expensive coffee in front of us and we only wanted to talk about the chips. When he told us that they weren't for sale, our faces must have been extremely woeful because he later came back with two bags of the stuff:
We were so touched that we insisted on taking a picture with him. And the chips.
And of course we had to buy something from the gift shop to show our immense gratitude. A tiny bottle of luwak coffee beans set us back $25. Ah, well. It's all part of being a tourist, right?
Thank you, Bali Pulina guide! I don't know your name, but you were awesome! Just another example of the kindness and generosity of Balinese people.
Banjar Pujung Kelod
Tegallalang, Gianyar, Bali, Indonesia