Produced by smallholder farmers inhabiting fertile volcanic highland areas in the heart of the Indonesian island of Bali. Arabica plantings in the Kintamani highlands were destroyed by the eruption of Gunung Agung in 1963. This eruption caused the quantity and quality of Arabica coffee from Kintamani to drop significantly for almost 15 years. In the 1970’s and 1980’s, the government began a program to supply coffee seedlings to local farmers and now the growing area in Bali is estimated at 7,500 hectares. Traditional coffee farms are usually a monoculture, however the farmers do use shade trees such as Erythrina, Albizia, Tangerine, and Orange, which improves both yield and cup quality. Pesticides are never used on coffee farms in Bali, and all the fertilizers are 100% organic. Most Balinese farmers grow S 795 and USDA 762 varieties as recommended by the Government. These two varieties belong to the Typica family, although Catimor is also grown on a small scale to improve yields. The typical altitude is around 1200 meters, although many farms in the highest areas go up to 1600 meters. Under normal conditions the harvesting period begins in May or early June. Traditionally the farmers handpick only the mature (red) cherries. The local mills remove the outer skin of the cherries by pulping machine on the day they are received before a 24-36 hour fermentation period. After washing, the clean parchment is fully sun-dried on racks down to 40% moisture content. Exporters typically will buy the wet parchment at this stage of production and then “wet hull” it before completing the drying down to 12-15%.
Coffee farmers in Kintamani are strongly organized through Subak Abian (SA), a traditional structure of farmer organization in the upland areas of Bali. SA plays an important role not only in agricultural activities but also in religious ones. Founded on the Hindu philosophy of “Tri Hita Karana” (meaning the three causes of happiness), the philosophy is all about the relation of the individual to God, to other men, and to his environment. Each SA democratically establishes its own written rules, the so called “awig-awig”, and also works to form village coops.
Coffee quality improvement at the smallholder level is not only a question of technology application, but also of social and economic awareness. To this end, a mediated partnership model has been developed to improve quality and to shorten the marketing chain from the farm gate to the exporter, thus ensuring a greater percentage of the FOB price gets back to the people who grow the coffee.