Balinese Blue Moon is a rare coffee from the volcanic highland area of Kintamani on the Indonesian island of Bali. It is grown by smallholding farmers who follow the Hindu principle of “Tri Hita Karana” (the three sources of happiness): harmony with god, harmony with fellow man, and harmony with the environment.
Harmony with god
These smallholding coffee farmers are strongly organized through the Subak Abian, a traditional democratic farming organization (similar to a coop) that goes back 1,000 years and was founded on the principle of Tri Hita Karana. It originated with the sharing of water, which is considered sacred--drawing together the realm of spirit, the human world and nature. Temples were built around sources of water, many operate to this day and there is a resurgence in their use. Water temple rituals are common and promote a harmonious relationship between people and God, people with each other, and people and nature by emphasizing their communal dependence on the life-sustaining forces of the natural world. Beyond food offerings and other symbolic gestures, the water temples serve as an effective irrigation management system that gauge water resources, time crops and control pests.
Harmony with fellow man
In the Subak Abian cooperatives, farmers pool their resources to help each other with operations. They also share the proceeds, which go back to the farmers themselves and to the communities in which they live to better the living conditions. There are 13 different Subak Abians that are currently growing and processing coffee. The "SA" oversees both agricultural technology and religious activities and is a strong force in the culture, prosperity and strength of the community.
Harmony with the environment
With its respect for as a life-giving, sacred force, the farming practices are 100% organic and sustainable. The manure used for coffee is produced organically by the animals inside the farm (cattle, goats, and poultry) and pesticides are never used.
Bali Blue Moon is shade-grown using permanent shade trees such as Erythrina, Albizia, and Leucaena. Shading intensity generally ranges from 30% to over 50% and provides a slower growth for a more intense, better tasting bean. In the early 1990’s, when the price of coffee was very low, many farmers planted oranges and tangerines between the rows of coffee trees. This provided shade cover for the coffee and provided the diversification needed to maximize the return from the land. They also lend a little extra sweetness and a bit more acidity than most Indonesian varietals, which get us to…
Organic Bali Blue Moon coffee is a rare cup. The fact that the beans are dried with the fruit attached to the seed further enhances the complexity and wild fruitiness. It delivers a dry, winey crispness across the palate followed by a long pleasing finish mingling chocolate, vanilla, and smoky exotic spices.
A note: We’re planning a trip this spring to visit the Kintamani highlands of Bali and spend time with these farmers who grow these spectacular beans. So, more to come!