Earlier this month I was lucky enough to go to Bali with Five Senses Coffee on an ‘origin’ harvest trip, with a handful of their staff and a number of baristas (what’s the collective noun for baristas, I wonder?) from Perth and Melbourne. Five Senses does this trip each year so everyone can learn more about coffee and help small farming communities at the same time.
Based in Ubud, we drove a couple of hours each way to the coffee farms every day.
To be honest, I’d never really given too much thought to the process involved in producing my long black coffee each morning. (It must be said, at that time of day I’m not giving too much thought to anything at all.) I’d never even thought about what the plant might look like or the fact that that the flowers smell as sweet as jasmine and the coffee beans aren’t actually beans at all…they’re the seed in the coffee ‘cherry’. Who would have thought! I’d never considered that they would be handpicked, one at a time, or that it would take a double-handful of cherries to produce that single latte. I hadn’t imagined that every spare horizontal surface in the village would be covered in coffee beans as they dry, and every spare pair of hands, young and old alike, would sort through the beans for quality control. Or that the beans would take 2-3 weeks to dry and would need to be raked and turned several times a day during that time, with everyone rushing to gather them up each time rain threatens the drying process. Which leads nicely on to the first project of the trip – helping to build a drying tent in the village. Five Senses tells the full story here (and there's more behind-the-scenes photos), and the process from plant to cup here is described perfectly here.
Ever since I first set off adventuring the world in my early twenties, I have tried to meet the real people along the way, to experience their day-to-day lives first hand. Over the years, I’ve worked on sheep stations in Australia and New Zealand, travelled with cowboys in the US and explored remote villages in the Solomon Islands. So I was delighted to find myself in Bali, camera in hand, once again getting a glimpse into lives that are far removed from my own. Big thanks to Shaughan and all the crew at Five Senses Coffee x