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The Rwa Bhineda Of Bali Coffee Culture

 In Coffee Conversations



– Foto esai ini mengurai dinamika dunia kopi di Bali
yang penuh dengan oksimoron
– Jika filosofi Ta o memiliki Yin dan Yang, Bali Hindu
memiliki Rwa Bhineda, yaitu prinsip keharmonisan
dalam perbedaan
– Subyek yang diambil adalah Infinity Coffee di Sanur
yang anti-stereotype dan Helmen Coffee di Denpasar
yang cenderung lebih modern
– Masing-masing tempat kopi dipasang secara
berdampingan untuk menonjolkan perbedaan sekaligus
keharmonisan mereka

The Mandering

Initially, I planned to visually present the backstories of mainly two people: Irfan of Helmen Coffee in Denpasar and Gung Bagus of Infinity Coffee in Sanur.

But, something inside me about Bali’s coffee culture has been tugging at me since the day I arrived. What’s calling to me is Bali’s oxymoronic relationship with coffee.

This puzzling relationship, really centres around one question: “Why doesn’t Bali (like the rest of Indonesia) proportionally recognise Indonesia’s dominance in the coffee world?” It’s this yin and yang(or irony) that I’m gravitating towards and now wish to present in my essay.

Eloquently enough, Bali has Rwa Bhineda-Bali’s yin and yang philosophy. Rwa Bhineda compiles everything together rather nicely. I hope you agree.

The Rwa Bhineda of Bali’s Coffee Culture

According to Sangtu (Sang Ketut of Bali Silent Retreat), Rwa Bhineda is akin to the dualism of Indian philosophy or to the Ta o of Chinese philosophy. Rwa Bhineda is the Balinese philosophy for the harmony of opposites.

In this essay, two trending coffee scenes are presented as contrasting perspectives. As in true Rwa Bhinedafashion, neither scene is good or bad, and each one needs to coexist to bring balance and order. On one side of the duality spectrum is the modern and creatively inclined, Helmen Coffee in the capital city Denpasar. On the other side is the surprisingly refreshing beach anti-stereotype, Infinity Coffee in the seaside resort town of Sanur.


I’ve paired each image with its opposite. This pairing adheres to the Rwa Bhineda theme. I think the diptychs are a compelling format for the spirit (taksu/jiwa) of this essay.

Diptychs caption

yin and yang | the irony of Bali’s coffee scene

gritty dichotomy | coarse versus refined-a matter of taste

kettle harmony | making kopi Bali and V60 brewing single origin Kintamani

180 degrees | Denpasar & Sanur, two extremes yet the same island

different facades | Bali’s urban and beach hut architecture

equal opposing views | the view from Helmen Coffee in Denpasar and from Infinity Coffee in Sanur

cup of java | coffee comfort in the city and on the beach

Bali’s campur | Indonesia’s diverse cultures come together and blend in Bali; Irfan originally from East Java and Gung Bagus originally from Bali.

tools of the trade | urban design and warungchic style

same same but different | where things are created at Helmen in Denpasar and Infinity in Sanur

the balance | music speaks the universal language in Denpasar and Sanur

Read too, The Beauty is That We Produce The Coffee: Exploring Manual Brewing’s Popularity in Indonesia.


MARK L CHAVES is a photographer, writer, and digital media consultant based in Bali, Indonesia. Before morphing into a freelancer, he slung code and managed web teams for Fortune 500 companies. Mark’s favourite meditations are a good book with a cappuccino, feeding stray cats and dogs, and wishing to be a rock star in his next life.

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