Richard Horstman (The Jakarta Post)
Thu, January 12, 2023
Informatively written, this photo essay and illustrated volume expands upon the limited current narrative, helping support the development of the burgeoning Indonesian coffee industry.
The international coffee narrative has, until recently, been dominated by coffee-consuming countries. These are primarily Western nations, some former colonial powers. The one-sided, end-user perspective does not reveal the wonderful human stories that begin at the start of the supply chain – the accounts of struggle, overcoming adversity, innovations, passion and, significantly, vital community relationships.
Bali Coffee Origin’s New Wave by Rodney A. Glick and Michelle Anindya, is among the first books from the equatorial growing belt to explore the art of coffee production through supply chain practices, from the planting to the cup. Although processing coffee in Indonesia has only recently been recognized as a separate profession from coffee farming, what happens after has remained a mystery. Overflowing with information, this insightful book answers many questions and fills in the gaps. Its objective is to inspire fresh coffee conversations with a newfound knowledge and ideas for a brighter future.
Published in hardcover in 2021 by Afterhours Books and edited by Julia Winterflood, Bali Coffee Origin’s New Wave celebrates the archipelago’s coffee culture. It features over 200 descriptive color digital images by 13 photographers, including Glick. This window into the Bali coffee industry, from the growing, cultivation and experimentation with processing techniques to the roasting, brewing and serving, is nurtured by individuals and communities dedicated to pursuing better Indonesian coffee.
Coffee, anyone?: Barista Ni Putu Wiwik Octaviani brews hand-drip coffee. (Courtesy of Anggara Mahendra) (Courtesy of Anggara Mahendra/.)
Twenty-plus pages of beautiful pictures lead the readers to a cultural and environmental overview. The book’s narrative then unfolds via chapters “Origin: A Place Where Coffee is Grown and Stories Unfold” to “Our Coffee Waves”, “Behind the Scene”, “Coffee Family”, “Flavor Begins at Origin”, “Roda Rasa Kopi Indonesia”, “Kopi Zaman Now” and concludes with “Introducing Singalong”. The bilingual volume explores Indonesian coffee through essays by young enthusiasts. The artistic layout and design are enriched by wonderfully illustrated neo-classical Balinese Kamasan figures describing different themes throughout the book.
Rodney A. Glick is an Australian-born international contemporary artist and coffee professional who has lived in Bali since 2005. As an outsider, he has been able to summarize the local scene with a fresh perspective.
“When each stage of the coffee chain is interlinked, deeper dialogues can open up. I frame these dialogues as ‘The Architecture of Coffee’ to help me form concrete structures around the industry. These structures are often a poetic expression encouraging imaginative play with practical outcomes.
“Some of these outcomes are Seniman Industries [roastery, product design, workshops and cafes] established in 2009; Karana Spesialis Kopi [farming, processing and green bean trading] established in 2014; Singalong [online magazine exploring Indonesian coffee] established in 2017; and Roda Rasa Kopi Indonesia [Indonesian Coffee Flavor Wheel] released in 2019,” Glick writes in his opening essay.
“In coffee-consuming countries, retail brands, roasters, cafes, baristas and new technologies are the show’s stars. This is as deep into the coffee supply chain as customers can go to experience origin stories,” the book states.
Coffee waves are histories of distinct locales. Every coffee-producing and consuming country has its coffee waves. Now Indonesia has its resource book emphasizing the mounting wave energized by the past two decades in a revolution of coffee discovery.
Agriculture is embedded in Balinese society playing a significant financial and cultural role within communities. Coffee farming is a family profession passed down through the generations. More than one crop is cultivated, the two most profitable being arabica coffee and several varieties of orange. Chapter Four, “Coffee Family”, describes the transition from Balinese wood carving as the source of the family’s livelihood to roasting and brewing coffee.
“Younger generations move away from family compounds to cities for work. Tourism, hospitality and the coffee industry are big drawcards. Rural kids who grow up in wood carving communities transition to coffee-making easily.
“Baristas are the public face of the supply chain attracting young people to the industry, but farming, processing and roasting involve a physicality familiar to village life.”
Each of the family members’ roles in coffee production is featured. At the same time, I Komang Suryana, who married into the family, kept the tradition of woodcarving alive, sculpting contemporary artwork. Photographed are some of his extraordinary coffee-inspired creations.
A Jakartan by origin, Michelle Anindya resides in Bali and has a degree in cultural studies from an American university. She is the editor of the online magazine Singalong. Anindya was instrumental in creating Roda Rasa Kopi Indonesia, released in 2019, as well as in developing the app and the Indonesian Sensory Lexicon, an accompanying aroma kit and digital cupping form. Indonesia is home to abundant tropical fruits providing countless references for coffee flavors and aromas. Roda Rasa Kopi Indonesia is dedicated to a remarkable feat of exploration, listing the local produce according to these flavors and aromas.
Highlighting exciting facts, a double-page table lists extensive data. This includes altitudes, varieties, flavor profiles, popular processing methods, specialty roasting options, commercial grade roasting options and roasting tips for single-origin filter coffee. This distinguishes the Indonesian-origin growing regions of Aceh Gayo, West Java, Bali, Toraja, Central Flores and Papua.
While the book’s focal point is on I Kadek Edi’s family, it misses describing other beautiful stories from the many within the Bali coffee community. The farmers especially have interesting hands-in-the-dirt perspectives. Other creative processes also have not been described. The book falls short of exploring the many coffee varieties grown in Bali. At the same time, Robusta, the cheaper alternative, is only drawn into the text in the short essay “The Future of Indonesia’s Robusta” in the final chapter. Authors face limits and must be discerning; exciting content has to be excluded.
Bali Coffee Origin’s New Wave matches beautiful aesthetics with fascinating content. It is a must-have for connoisseurs wishing to ignite conversations fueled by an array of coffee facts while enjoying their favorite brew.