Art & Design
I’m not a huge coffee fanatic like what seems like the majority of the world nowadays, but I do know how to enjoy a good cup and N certainly loves the stuff. So it was a bit of a surprise to me when I became hooked on the stuff at Seniman Coffee Studio, one of our best finds in Ubud. What we expected to be a one-time visit turned into two, three, four, then five because once we had this coffee, we really couldn’t have it anywhere else. It was mindblowing, even for someone like me who doesn’t know shit about coffee. A bonus was meeting one of the owners, Rodney Glick, a contemporary artist and coffee enthusiast who taught us about Ubud, coffee, and the art world.
We stopped into this place after we met the owner of another cute coffee shop in Denpasar who recommended Seniman and also recommended the coffee I ended up falling in love with: the Papua cold-drip on ice (five cups made per day). I didn’t know that coffee could have such complex flavors, or that it could taste completely different when made the same way by two different people. The young Indonesian boys and girls working there take their coffee very very seriously, and watching them diligently learning from Rodney and making a cup sort of reminds me of the kind of concentration and meticulousness seen during a Japanese tea ceremony.
Speaking of Japanese, apparently there is a small group of Japanese coffee enthusiasts who go around Indonesia trying to find the best Arabica beans. Only Arabica. The leader of the group is an older gentleman from Tokyo, who doesn’t make money off of their valuable discoveries, but does it purely for the fun of it. Shit I wish I could do that. Not scour Indonesia for the best Arabica, but be so loaded I could do whatever the hell I wanted. This was one of many tidbits Rodney was kind enough to share with us.
While we sat in the cafe for hours every afternoon, the staff would experiment with various beans or coffee-making techniques, and let us try the results which were always good. The roaster gave us a tour of their roasters across the street, Taiwanese imports (apparently, the most experimental coffee is coming from Taiwan these days) sitting in an extension of their cafe which was equally nice but got really hot from the machines and the stifling Indonesian summer. So we sat in the main cafe — amongst other tourists taking refuge from the sun — and bugged the friendly staff day after day.
One afternoon, Rodney told us about the wood and stone carvers, weavers and painters who live around Ubud. We had been asking him what he did before he opened up Seniman, and he said his real occupation was a contemporary artist. What? No one lives off of being an artist! But for a lucky few, it’s possible. It’s always fun for me when I come across an artist, and it’s even better if they have as much experience in the art world and as much talent as Rodney does.
It was cool to have a place to relax, drink fantastic coffee and learn new things, but it was time to move on before we got too comfortable. And we were getting very close.