Bali Coffee, Slowly Displaced by Age

Although people abroad know more about Javanese coffee than the Balinese coffee, in fact since the Dutch colonial ruled, the mountains in Bali have been known as producer of coffee. Balinese coffee is famous for its delicious taste, its strong characterized smell and black colour indicating good quality. Singaraja and Tabanan regions are the two largest producer of coffee Bali. Besides producing coffee in the form of seeds which are being exported to other countries, they also produce various types of coffee powder marketed to all areas in Bali and Indonesia. The distinct difference between coffees belonging to Bali’s “traditional coffee” with the “modern coffee” is that “traditional coffee” grounds are usually left on the bottom of a glass or cup, while the “modern coffee” for a particular treatment will not left dregs. On the island of Java, the traditional coffee which left dregs is called “kopi tubruk”.

There are two types of coffee plants: Robusta and Arabica coffee, both grown in the fertile plateau that divides the island of Bali. In Gesing, Munduk, Gobleg, Banyuatis village of Singaraja, and the surrounding areas are the centre of the coffee producers, while in Tabanan, coffee-producing centre is located in Pupuan and its surrounding areas. Balinese coffees are mostly being processed traditionally, starting from the drying process up to the process of making the beans into powder. There are some Balinese coffee producers who use modern processing machinery but not as sophisticated as the engine of large-scale coffee producers in Java. A brand of coffee powder Balinese coffee “Banyuatis” once ruled the market, but then lost by the other Balinese coffee brands, such as: “Gelatik” or “Kupu-kupu Bola Dunia”. Traditionally processed coffee is generally mixed with the corn mixture with various percentages depending on the manufacturer. In the villages, people actually prefer to drink coffee without any mixture of corn, so the taste of coffee is more pure and concentrated. But along with the times, Balinese coffee is slowly displaced by the presence of instant coffees which being mass produced in large scale. Giant factories of coffee, such as Nescafe, Indocafe, Torabika, are now ruling the coffee market in Bali and has shifted the existence of Balinese coffee.

They are, in addition to their excellence in marketing, also promoting various taste mixtures, such as cappuccino, milk coffee, gingery, ginseng, etc. Not to mention the proliferation of coffee cafes promoting international flavour in Bali that causes the sinking of the great growing Balinese coffee. Moreover, the younger generations of Bali prefer to drink instant coffees that taste sweeter and befitted for the youth which also accompanied by more practical presentation than the original Balinese coffee that tastes bitter and must be mixed with sugar or milk to be drinkable by the youth. Although instant coffees are more expensive than the Balinese coffee, still young and even old generations started switching to instant coffee. Traditional coffee powder are now generally only consumed by the older generation who already fanatical about its taste, or used it as offering ingredients in the activities of the religious ceremonies. Bali people slowly left the traditional coffee powder and not impossibly that just a few of the next generation will only know its name. In addition to competing with large factory-made coffees nationwide, Balinese coffee must also compete with traditional coffees from other coffee producer regions in Indonesia, such as: Toraja, Sumba, Java and Sumatra. Coffees from these regions has ruled their local coffee market in the region and even expanded to the other islands around them, so the Balinese coffee is known almost only in Bali itself.

On the other hand, Balinese coffee plantation increasingly displaced by the plants with more economical value, such as clove, vanilla, chocolate or gold oak, so the quantity of coffee production in Bali has declined from year to year. Soil fertility levels are lower also lead to the declining production. Slowly but surely Bali began to lose its power as one of the best coffee producing regions in Indonesia. Balinese coffee will continue to fade away and approach their extinction? What are the efforts being done to preserve Balinese coffee? When examined, there are several factors that cause the decline in popularity of Balinese coffee: – Lack of publicity and promotion from the Balinese coffee producers. It could be said that the marketing of traditional coffee powder is only using traditional methods, such as direct marketing to traditional markets, small shops or stalls. The use of advertising media is rarely performed, sometimes only promoting through the local radio or media that in fact only is targeting rural communities. In terms of packaging, traditional coffees less attractively packaged. Coffee producers use only the white plastic with the brand images stamped outside. In traditional markets, the coffee powder sold in kilogram or even sold without a brand at all. In the supermarket, Balinese coffee powder packaging looks less glamorous compared to the instant coffees that appear with beautiful, attractive and full of colour packaging. Lack of promotion and publicity is also felt in the tourism industry of Bali, which generally sells more imported products. Hotel, restaurant, bar or club is very rarely putting Balinese coffee as an option in their menu; – The presence of coffee cafes promoting international flavour, such as: Starbucks and J-CO, are causing the struggling Balinese coffee to submerged. Not just cafes, in Bali is now emerging producers of international flavoured coffee (small scale) that in fact is owned by a few foreigners who has settled in Bali, which specifically target tourists as their buyers.

Though produced in Bali, these foreign coffee producers are not providing any Balinese identity to their products; – Lack of product innovation; Balinese coffee producers do not dare to innovate by creating specific products that match international flavour or a weaker taste for foreigners and people of Bali itself. Lack of product innovation also led to the less competitive Balinese coffee compared to instant coffees that is very easily presented. In addition, instant coffee is more readily available everywhere than the traditional coffee. Hence, no doubt, in the preference of Balinese coffee for traditional activities has also been ousted by the existence of instant coffee. These factors need to be studied deeply to restore the position of Balinese coffee as the host in the area, and even if possible, it could rule the marketing of coffee in Indonesia and overseas. When compared with the instant coffee products and flavoured coffee in the international cafes, it can be concluded that the shortcomings need to be explored to improve this situation.

Some ideas under consideration are able to lift the image of Balinese coffee:

  1. Increase publicity and marketing of Balinese coffee. The famous Bali tourism sector is the appropriate sales target goals. Rather than compete with giant companies nationwide that have strong capitals, Balinese coffee is better moved through tourism. Creativity coupled with efforts; inevitably the image of Balinese coffee could rise. One of the efforts is by creating attractive packaging. A simple example is the use of shaped paper bag packaging complete with brochures and the plantation photographs will be able to cause excitement from buyers to glance. Coffee in this kind of packaging is of course targeting the tourists as a buyer in the hope that Balinese coffee powder can be bought as gifts. Publication of printed and electronic media should also help the local news about the existence of local coffee products. Some writings and programs should be created to arouse public awareness of the need to preserve Balinese coffee. Education media can be used as a mean to introduce one of these local products to the younger generation of Bali. Certainly not in the way to teach the children to drink coffee, but it can be done, for example, through excursion activities to the plantations and coffee processing plants. This could be one of the media for children to foster a love for one of the cultural heritage of their ancestors;
  2. Creating innovative products. For example, the producers should create a coffee with the traditional Balinese taste, such as: coffee with a hint of vanilla or cinnamon taste, coffee with honey, etc;
  3. The need of intervention from the government of Bali. When speaking of coffee in the general framework of preservation, the Balinese government intervention is necessary. Balinese government has the authority to create local regulations (Perda) dedicated to the preservation of Balinese coffee and the increase of coffee farmers’ wealth. The regulations can take many forms such as: restaurants and hotels are required to present the Balinese coffee as an option in the menu, involving businessmen engaged in tourism support services, such as: business travel, transportation, souvenir shops, etc. to promote Balinese coffee by providing brochures to the tourists on Balinese coffee plantations or provide Balinese coffee as a uniquely packaged souvenir;
  4. Agricultural utilization of coffee as one of tourist destinations. Once again the existence of Bali’s tourism that has been established can be used as a vehicle for the coffee farming to increase their popularity. People from travel industry could glance over coffee plantations as an agro-tourism destination. This trip will not only show off the fertility of the coffee plantations alone, but the tourists can also be encouraged to see the processing of agricultural produced coffee, how the raw coffee processed into traditional coffee powder. With interesting packaging and publications, then the coffee plantation can become one of the interesting tourist attractions.

With awareness of various community groups, government and people of Bali in general, the preservation of Balinese coffee should be started from now on. Balinese coffee is not only contributing to regional income as an agricultural product, but also must be empowered as a cultural heritage that is necessary and will not disappear from its own community. -ketut suasti-

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