Island Perks Published in Epicure magazine
A coffee lover’s guide to Bali’s best cafes, from Sanur to Seminyak
Smashed avo to marbled flat whites, it’s no secret that Australia’s world-famous café culture has rubbed off on Bali. But it’s not just the ubiquitous brunch signatures that we’ve inherited from our Antipodean neighbours…
Take baristas. They’re quicker to share the stories behind their beans, more pernickety when it comes to cremas and consistency. At the same time, entrepreneurs are personality-stamping their venues and there’s a real sense of ‘do-what-you-feel’ individualism floating around.
Yet there’s one way that Bali has a real edge on her coffee-consuming rivals. Mere kilometres between growers and servers means that café owners have easy access to speciality grade beans and a greater control on processing. The proof is in the piccolo.
From independently-owned houses serving small-batch roasts to beachfront beauty spots for breakfast with a view, here are six island cafés worth the stop.
STRAIGHT UP COFFEE
Jl. Petitenget No.1a
7am – 5pm
Started as a ‘passion project’ by award-winning Aussie barista Shae Macnamara, Expat.Roasters serves up speciality shots and first-rate flat whites from its slick, concrete-finished brew bar on Jalan Petitenget.
Coffee takes centre stage at this industrial-feel space, with an on-site barista training facility and retail area plugging a nomadic collection of beans, curated by Expat’s Master Roaster Aidan Broderick.
Expertly-made milk-based coffees are offered alongside cold brews and V60 (pour over) options, a favourite for those who prefer a lighter bodied beverage. Their house blend, called ‘The Nomad,’ has notes of cocoa, nuts, caramel and citrus thanks to a combination of Kintamani and Aceh Gayo beans cultivated by Expat’s close-knit collective of Balinese farmers.
Meanwhile, their single origin offerings, sourced from artisan brokers in Singapore, reflect some of the globe’s finest producers from Colombia, Brazil, Panama and beyond, alongside out-there seasonal varieties.
If you’re hungry, there’s a small selection of ‘treats,’ specifically chosen to match each cup – try the house-made banana bread with single-origin espresso butter.
COFFEE FOR TWO: IDR 80,000 (approx)
Open daily, 7AM – 5PM
PLANT POWER FIX
Jl. Petitenget No.12X
Dishing up personalised smoothie bowls, immune-boosting juices and vegan waffles from 6am, Kynd is a popular post-gym pit stop for members of nearby Motion Fitness.
Expat.Roasters supply the beans for their brews, which are served with daily house-made ‘mylks’ – your choice of almond, coconut or soy (no dairy). Gluten-free treats and non-dairy cheesecakes line the counter, sourced from Bali-based baker friends, while the kitchen plates up instagram-friendly fare until late afternoon.
The Kynd Crumble, a tropical bowl of island fruits, house-roasted granola, coconut yoghurt and blueberry compote spiked with sweet dukkah, is a filling, all-natural morning feed. Grab-and-go salads, ‘anti-cruel’ platters (pulled garlic sourdough, olives, sundried tomatoes, beet hummus) and veg-centric gourmet toasts – named after ‘kynd humans’ like the ‘Leo’ and the ‘Ghandi ’– are among the other mid-morning meal offerings.
Feel-good vibes run through the whole space. Colour-in postcards stamped with uplifting quotes are a thoughtful customer keepsake and staff wear ‘Kynd Human’ T-shirts, available to buy alongside locally designed jewellery, vegan apparel and reusable brass straws.
‘Another day in paradise’ reads the inscription on Kynd’s pink and green wall mural, a backdrop that’s fast becoming one of the most photographed in Seminyak.
PLANT-BASED BREAKFAST FOR TWO: IDR 250,000 (approx)
Open daily, 6am – 5pm
Jalan Kayu Aya, No. 22
From the folks behind Sea Circus, Neon Palms occupies the first floor space above the popular boho-beach fashion store, Bali Boat Shed. Retro colour-blocked walls, African animal murals and bright bunches of tropical blooms set this quirky new eatery apart. Outside, the terrace area is fitted out with a cosy smoker’s area overlooking the busy Kayu Ayu stretch below.
Put together by two of owner Josh Herdman’s favourite chefs – Australian Matt Upson and Swede Felix Ruitz – the menu features ‘fragrant and full-flavoured’ pan-Asian sharing plates, all-day egg dishes and ‘sweet and enticing’ breakfast signatures, all presented on pastel pink plates.
Mackerel, caught in Jimbaran Bay, smoked in-house and served with a herbed quinoa and pumpkin seed salad and a poached egg is a firm favourite. From the taco selection, choose the bite-sized buttermilk chicken; it’s herby and delicious (order more to share). Instagram-savvy servings come standard at Neon, but the caramelised banana pancakes topped with edible flowers and kitchen-made blueberry sherbet takes the cake – definitely one for sweet-toothed diners.
Drinks-wise, an eclectic selection of boozy brunch cocktails and sparkling wines are offered alongside fruity mocktails, all served in vintage-inspired crystal glassware. House-pressed capsicum purée and fresh horseradish add zing to Neon’s remedial morning-after-the-night-before Bloody Mary.
BRUNCH FOR TWO: IDR 500,000, with cocktails (approx)
Open daily, 8AM-10PM
Seniman Coffee Studio
Jalan Sriwedari No. 5
Serving speciality grade beans roasted across the road at their own small-batch roastery, Seniman attracts a mixed crowd of tourists, bloggers and coffee connoisseurs to its famous shop just off the main thoroughfare of Jalan Suweta.
Inside, a laboratory-like brew bar dominates the space, behind which a crew of baristas man the ever-expanding collection of brewing apparatus. Comfy countertop seating on Seniman’s bar rockers, available for purchase, encourages interaction between coffee makers and consumers.
Rotating single origin specials are chalked onto a blackboard every day – choose from light, medium, or dark roasts, as well as guest beans from Bali, Colombia, Costa Rica, Kenya and beyond. Slow-drip cold brew coffees are a Seniman specialty, served on the rocks, with water, milk, fruit, or chocolate. For those who still prefer their coffee the old fashioned way, milk-based versions are served on wooden boards, with a nip of cold water and crumbly shortbread.
Ushering in what they call the ‘4th wave’ of coffee, Seniman hosts customized workshops on home brewing, roasting, cupping and latte art (registration through their website).
Next door, Bar Seniman shakes up kopi-inspired cocktails, utilizing ingredients like cascara, the dried husks of the coffee cherry.
COFFEE TASTING BOARD (3 shots): IDR 75,000 (approx)
Open daily, 8am – 10pm
THE WHOLE FAMILY
Soul by the Beach
With clear-day views of Mount Agung to the left and Nusa Penida’s limestone cliffs rising up from the ocean ahead, Soul by the Beach is up there with the most idyllic of Bali’s breakfasting backdrops. Rustic recycled teak tables are planted straight into the sand at this younger sibling of Danau Tamblingan hotspot, Soul in a Bowl.
Thankfully, the F&B is up to the standard of the setting and morning caffeine fixes are agreeably catered to. Crafted using Dimattina beans from the Australian brand’s dedicated Bali roastery, Soul’s cuppas wouldn’t taste out of place in a funky Fitzroy brew bar.
Helmed by Josh Harrison, a Toronto-born chef with Australian experience, the kitchen purveys an all-encompassing brunch menu spanning classic egg signatures, tropical fruit-and-seed-flecked smoothie bowls and quirky veg-centric plates.
Stand-out dishes include ‘What Everyone Wants,’ a tasting board of corn fritters; mini muesli; yoghurt and dragon fruit cup; semi-dried tomato and a half-sized Eggs Florentine. North-African-style Shakshuka Eggs, a hearty pan of poached eggs, chilli, spices, tomato, asparagus, feta and watercress, also comes highly rated.
Direct beach access means it’s a favourite with families, and both kids and dogs are thought of, with special menus for each. Soul’s doggie menu is made in-house and features a vegan option (black beans, edamame, carrot and peanut butter) and beef, chicken, pork, fish and vegetarian bowls. Icy granitas of mint, lime, guava and butterfly pea are a great non-alcoholic cooler, and instant hit with the children.
Check it out in the evening for ‘soul-infused’ cocktails and Roman-style wood-fired pizzas.
FAMILY BREAKFAST FOR FOUR: IDR 500,000 (approx)
Open daily, 8AM – 10.30PM
LOW-KEY, HEALTHY LUNCHES
Jalan Danau Tamblingan 51
With its patterned piccolos, art-adorned walls and vegetable-driven menu, Square One has accumulated a small but steadfast following since opening in the sleepy Sanur neighbourhood last year.
Little but lofty, the inside space features banquette seating, batik scatter cushions, white walls and exposed brickwork. Eye-catching images by photographer friends from Japan, Serbia and Bali make up the cafe’s current exhibition, priced from around IDR 2,000,000.
Thanks to regular trainings, the baristas are serious about the coffee they send out, crafting each cup with Square One’s custom blend by Vivi at Sanur roastery, Simply Brew.
Food-wise, the vegetarian-leaning menu doesn’t stray too far from the mainstream, focusing on a few breakfast staples, sizeable salads and leafy loaded wraps, big enough for two to share.
Flavour-forward vegan favourites include their ‘Fa-LOVE-fel,’ a bowl of herb-heavy falafel balls with tabbouleh, olives, handmade tahini sauce and beetroot hummus. Packed with olive-oil roasted roots, greens, cashews and seeds, their ‘Veggie Bowl’ is served with a hefty side of chunky peanut dressing. Accompanying salsas, dips, sauces and pestos are freshly made each morning.
A recent menu refresh promises more for meat eaters, like pan-roasted salmon with quinoa patties and asparagus, in addition the much-loved ‘Man Bun,’ their beef patty burger oozing with cheese, bacon and caramelised onions.
LUNCH FOR TWO: IDR 220,000 (approx)
Open daily, 7AM – 7PM