When we finally got to Denpasar (via that snail-paced ferry from Java, and the tortuous bus route along the island’s windy roads) we found ourselves in the middle of Bali’s capital in a resort hotel frequented mainly by Indonesians, and well away from the touristy parts like Kuta or Seminyak.
There are countless coffee shops – probably run by Aussies and New Zealanders – over by the beaches, but we were treated to some quality local coffee culture within a short walk of our hotel in the centre of Denpasar.
First up, we found the rather dubiously named Playboy’s Coffee House, its image of the bunny rabbit’s head making us wonder what sort of joint we were entering.
The Nuova Simonella coffee machine reassured us, though, as did the house blend advertised, which married some local Aceh and Flores beans with a Yirgacheffe from Ethiopia. So some thought had gone into the coffee, and it showed with the resulting cappuccino, a delightful start to our day in Denpasar.
It was quite a late start, mind you. At 10.15am, we were the café’s first customers (they open at 10am) so don’t dash along here for a crack-of-dawn cuppa. But if you are on the beach and fancy a coffee in Denpasar itself, Playboy’s could be the place for you.
You couldn’t find a friendlier pair than Steve and Eky, who run the show, either. The decor and fittings all look pristine and sparklingly clean, as if the place only opened a few days before, and there’s a nice touch, with Eky’s badminton championship medal from 1997 standing on the counter by the wall, showing there’s more to life than coffee…or at least there was all those years ago.
There’s good air-conditioning here, or a terrace out the front if you prefer to bathe in the warm air, and a room at the side which is covered by a roof but otherwise open to the front. So, lots of options, and I’m guessing they are more of a nocturnal venue than early morning…
Which brings me back to that name: I asked the owners why they had chosen the name Playboy’s. ‘For fun’, they said, and to create a concept for the menu, which does indeed include lots of interesting innuendoes, though we didn’t try the Nutty Naughty, the One Night Stand or the First Fruit.
We stuck to their basic coffee and cake, and were very happy with that for our morning cuppa in Denpasar.
As we walked back towards our hotel, happy to have found good coffee on Bali, we passed by another coffee shop, which drew us in with its announcement that they roast their own coffee.
Golden Honey is an ‘artisan coffee roastery’ but also specialises in pizza! Again, we were the only customers in there at 11am, and with pizza not really on our minds, we decided to stick to the coffee, but wondered again if this was more of an evening venue, where people come for dinner and then finish their day with a quality coffee.
As you’d expect from a place that roasts their own, the coffee was good, all Indonesian this time, which we also like to see, though I personally preferred the brew they gave us round the corner at Playboy’s (the thing is, it’s always hard when a venue is the second coffee shop to be visited in a short time frame – the joy of having the first caffeine of the day means the 2nd cup has to be extraordinarily special to gain the same effect on the senses…).
I loved the concept, though: locally roasted, using Indonesian beans – our coffee made even from a Bali crop – and selling bags of the best on the counter. Once again, I couldn’t resist, and we came away with yet another bag of beans, this time from Bali of course.
So, that was our last coffee on the road on an odyssey that began with Loustic in Paris and ended with Golden Honey in Denpasar. Our next coffee would be at Adelaide Airport, when we arrived the next day into Australia.
But there was still tea to come in Bali. More on that tomorrow…