We began our morning with an activity perfect for those who like to start the day with a good sweat, just like we will most mornings of our retreat, by going on a 3 – 5 mile run over the Campuhan Ridge Walk. It’s only a mile from our villa so you can easily make it as challenging or relaxing a workout as you want to. Early mornings in Bali are always interesting as this is the time when most Balinese are on the street purchasing their fruits and vegetables for the day. In other words, if you’re a people watcher (idk about you but my hand is raised!), this is one of the best times of day to be out and about.

During our workout, we ran by a collection of Balinese dogs that are trying to grab scraps of food. Sadly there are a lot of homeless dogs in Bali. This is true in India and lots of other South and Southeast Asian countries, but it is a bit of a hit to the gut if you’re not prepared. That said, the dogs are fed and taken care of more than one would expect for being homeless, so it’s not all terrible… I guess… (but I just want to do more for them!). Anyway, moving on.

Always Make Time for Coffee

After our hike, it was time for some coffee because you can take the girl away from Napa but you can’t take her away from her caffeine haha. Today was an especially fun day because we got to do a coffee and tea tasting! To make the most of our experience we went to my favorite Bali coffee plantation – Uma Pakel. They specialize in something really unique. Something that I’ll tell you about because we’re friends, I trust you, and this is a judgment-free zone…

This is probably going to sound offputting, but keep in mind our coffee tasting involved sipping on the most expensive coffee in all the world. So despite how it sounds it really is good.

Ok, enough buildup – I’ll get straight to it – the coffee we drank is called Kopi Luwak, which is just coffee that comes from Luwak cat poop droppings hahaha. But man oh man does it make for a beautiful cup of coffee. Authentic free range Kopi Luwak is really hard to come by and I’ll explain why in just a minute, but this is what drives the price and makes it something we only do when in Bali.

How Kopi Luwak is Made

So I said that it’s rare, but let me explain. The first step to Kopi Luwak is that you have to have coffee trees. You also have to have Luwaks (aka civets, but really it’s just a cat). All things free range taste better, so of course these need to be happy cats wandering around as they please.

Next, the Luwak has to eat the coffee berries (aka cherries) the coffee trees produce. But they don’t just eat any old cherry. They’re fussy. They want the best. The juiciest, fruitiest, ripest ones. So if it’s coming out of a Luwak you already know you began with the highest quality fruit there is.

Then the cat goes on about their day, which involves a thorough digestive process ending with pooping out those beautiful beans. Their digestive process ferments the fruit, so while there may be a certain ick factor to it, if you think of the beans like kimchi or saur kraut they suddenly don’t sound all too terrible, do they? And maybe it helps to know the cherry is never fully digested? See, the part we want is protected by a layer of skin which means our incredibly expensive specialty coffee is never directly touched by any feces whatsoever.

Being a science nerd I find the digestion process fascinating because 1) hello nutrition, and 2) this exact process is why these beans are so coveted. Kopi Luwak has been around since the 1600s and IMHO completely revolutionized the way we produce coffee. It was the civet that showed the way in terms of how important it is to pick the highest quality bean from the best sources around the world. And how cool that animals helped lead us to my favorite thing ever – a beautiful cup of coffee.

If you’re a science nerd like me you can read more about studies that have been conducted to learn how such amazing flavors are produced here. Although I have to be honest that I disagree with the ending, but hey – to each his own…

Yes I’m Still Sitting Here Talking About Cat Poop

Anyway, it usually takes about a day for the ingestion, digestion and defecation process to be complete before farmers can collect the poops to process into fresh (haha) coffee beans. Don’t worry though, this process does include washing drying and removing the skin before roasting. This kills any remaining bacteria, so the poop is gone before it has the chance to get into your favorite mug.

All that to say, just trust me that you’ll be glad if you ever have the chance to try it. And if you happen to buy some to take back home, you’ll never doubt for a second why you paid $100 for a bag of coffee beans. Guaranteed, it’ll produce the smoothest, least bitter coffee you’ll have in your life, hands down. I’m sure of it.

Ok, it’s over, phew! And we’re still friends. Can I just take a minute to say wow… I never thought I would talk about poop so much in my life but here we are! I feel closer to you somehow haha.

Back to the Coffee Tasting

One of the things I love about the coffee spot we went to is that they have swings! So we got to feel like adults with our morning run and our coffee but also got to giggle like the kids at heart we are with the swings. And you guessed it – there was plenty of cat poop coffee to purchase haha.

Interestingly, whenever there’s a coffee tasting in Bali there’s going to be an elaborate tea tasting as well. They also make their own turmeric, ginger, and cinnamon. The flavors of their coffees stand out in their simplicity. They taste just exactly as they should and nothing more. So their ginger tea really does taste like ginger because they actually used real ginger. I can still taste some of their flavors when I think back on that morning which is the sign of a truly beautiful cup of coffee/tea.

Daily Excursion

From the tea tasting, we went to Pura Titra Empul. It’s a Hindu water temple you can go to if you want to see a traditional Balinese offerings ceremony. This was an amazing experience where we even learned how to make the Balinese offering baskets. Everyone went into the water and then underneath each water spout to practice their Balinese offering. It was a very spiritually uplifting process for everyone regardless of their religious/spiritual background.

Time to Relax

Given that all these destinations are slightly spread out after another full day in Bali we head back to the villa for a mixed vegetables noodle dish, steamed veggies in peanut sauce, jackfruit with peanut spinach and spiced mung beans, Balinese spiced potatoes and of a course a huge salad.

I was wiped and headed straight to bed after that so I could do it all again starting first thing in the morning. Before dozing off I curled up with a new author – Liane Moriarty, who also has a book about a retreat called 9 Perfect Strangers, but I was reading The Husband’s Secret, which of course, my husband has none! Haha I’m watching you Matt…

Anyway, we all have our different evening routines but a lot of the other retreaters went on to lounge by the pool with a beverage, listening to the jungle sounds of Bali before heading off to sleep. I figured I’d try that tomorrow if I could keep my eyes open just a little longer…

Highlights of the day: tasting exotic teas and swinging over the rice terraces
Low of the day: Balinese traffic