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Kinta

by | Nov 4, 2020

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Kinta is a unique gem from the tropical paradise of Bali, bursting with character and sunshine. Sent directly to us from our dear friends at Bali Beans, it’s a one-of-a-kind coffee. You can only get it two places in the world: on the slopes of Kintamani where it’s farmed, and right here at Coffee & Coconuts.

Origins

The name of Bali invokes images of ancient temples tucked into the hillside where priests in traditional garb light incense and speak prayers to the gods of the island. Golden-skinned surfer girls and boys lounging on the beach sipping fresh young coconut straight from the tree. Or a quiet yoga retreat among the trees and the tropical rain.

Soaring above all this, in the highest mountain slopes of northern Bali, is a small coffee-growing unlike any other in the world. Each island of Indonesia has its own microclimate, its own local genetic varieties, and its own traditional culture of processing coffee. If you hop on a coffee tasting tour from Sumatra to Java to Sulawesi to Bali, you will encounter different exotic flavors as you move from island to island.

The biggest quality bottleneck for coffee around the world, but especially in Indonesia, is “processing.” This simply refers to how the fruit is removed from the inner seed (the “bean”). If processing is done in a “dirty” way, you can end up with rotten, moldy, or overly fermented flavors. In fact, most coffee experts would agree that the majority of coffee in the world is processed improperly.

This holds true in Bali just as much as it does anywhere else. Some very beautiful coffees are unfortunately ruined before they even have a chance to make it off the mountain. But not all of them! Thanks to the hard work and intelligence of a few dedicated producers, unique high-quality Bali coffees are starting to find their way to the wider world.

At the forefront of this movement are Nyoman, Ayu and their family at Bali Beans. A small, family-owned traditional farm in north-central Bali, Bali Beans grows local varieties of coffee under carefully maintained shade trees, in beautiful harmony with the natural environment. Walking their farm, you pick your way through the lush green leaves of the coffee plants, and suddenly upon turning a corner, you are met with sweeping vistas of the entire island reaching all the way down to the sea.

Ayu, eldest daughter of the family, has traveled the world and educated herself on the very best ways to process coffee. She brought this knowledge back to her parents and their traditional lifestyle. So the plants are grown in a traditional and natural environment and then processed according to the best modern practices.

Bali Beans produces coffee in several styles: washed, honey process, and sun-dried natural. Although all three are excellent, we believe that the “natural” coffee is the most outstanding. Upon tasting this year’s crop, we immediately decided to purchase as much of the natural as they had available.

Bali Beans packs up the coffee themselves and arranges direct shipping to Rotterdam, where Coffee & Coconuts takes over ownership. This is the most direct of direct-trade operations. We are in constant contact with them, exchanging ideas and feedback about how the coffee is tasting, how to improve it for the next year, and how to best share it with the wider world.

Coffee & Coconuts is the only place in Europe where you can taste this coffee. It’s got a wild, intense, and complex fruity flavor. Often if we are grinding a batch in our Amsterdam store, customers walking by the bar will stop and turn around. “What is that amazing smell!??” That’s the Kinta… deep, fruity, and incredibly intense. A snapshot of exotic Bali, teleported all the way to you.

Roasting

Kinta has a lot of depth, body and richness naturally. So we roast it on the light side to keep the fruit flavors nice and bright. Unlike factory-processed coffee, every batch is sorted by hand back in Bali. Because it’s a wild coffee and there are no laser sorters involved, there is visible color-variation from bean to bean.

This is a good thing. Total uniformity in size, shape, and color might seem desirable, but it’s really a leftover relic of the middle of the last century, when coffee was graded on appearance, not flavor. Imagine that: a beverage, intended to be drunk, that “graders” never even tasted before giving it a score. The Kinta coffee has an unusual appearance, and an amazing flavor. Although it comes from a very traditional setting, it’s the kind of specialty coffee that you could never have received in a place like the Netherlands just 20 years ago.

We hand-sort the coffee one more time after roasting. This means double checking for any “quakers”… these are bright yellow beans with a different flavor from the others. Once it’s sorted, we keep it in an airtight box for 24 hours before it is “cupped”.

All our coffee gets cupped for quality control. That means every single batch of coffee, no matter how busy we are. At some “specialty” roasteries, they cup the coffee once or twice when they first receive it, then maybe once a month after that (and in many mass-produced operations, they don’t cup it at all!). At Coffee & Coconuts we believe in being intimately familiar with our coffee, and guaranteeing that every single batch we send out the door is up to the highest standard.

Once the coffee clears quality control, it is ready to be bagged, stamped with a roast date, and sent out into the world. Personally, I never trust a coffee without a roast date. Because coffee never “spoils” in the sense of becoming rotten, shady coffee companies can continue selling it for months (or even years!) after it was roasted. All the aromatic gases have long since departed, the oils have gone rancid, and the organic acids have broken down, leaving a stale, woody product that can barely be called coffee.

Our coffee is always fresh. With a beautiful gem like the Kinta, we want you to enjoy it at its absolute peak, so you can experience the lovely and unique character of Bali just as if you were walking the farm yourself, in the bright tropical morning sun.

Brewing

I never say “never” when it comes to brewing your coffee however you like it. But personally, I don’t use the Kinta for espresso. You can do it if you like, but expect a very intense, almost overpowering bright fruity flavor.

Where this coffee sings is in a filter preparation: using a hand-brewing set-up such as a Hario V60 or a Chemex, or even using an automatic drip machine such as a MoccaMaster. It also makes a nice french press or percolator coffee.

Expect a unique experience from this coffee. Deep, rich, fruity, and intense, with a winey aroma, full mouthfeel, and the flavors of a complex combination of tropical fruits: mango, dragonfruit, papaya and passionfruit.

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