Saturday, September 22, 2012

anomali, seminyak, bali

Jalan Drupadi/Oberoi, Seminyak, Bali

beans : Indonesian house blend or single origin
leaf : variety of loose leaf
soy : Australia’s Own, extra Rp5k
caffeine free : fresh juice selection Rp28k
spoon : Bircher muesli Rp35k
knife : french toast with caramelized banana, butterscotch cream & roast almond Rp 35k

footprint : black thongs
latte price : Rp30,000 ($3)
service : keen to please
open : 7 days, 7am to 11pm, midnight on Saturday

buzz : If Bali is the island of temples, this is where you come to worship the bean. For all those serious about coffee, make your way directly, do not pass go or stop to buy a Bintang singlet.  If you aren’t a coffee enthusiast, this may change your mind, or at least convince you to shun Nescafe from this day forward. Trust me, your life will be forever enhanced. 

Beans from the length of the archipelago are roasted on site, ground to order and prepared according to their dominant characteristic. A clear blackboard flow chart explains the key traits of each variety, and the knowledgeable staff are happy to elaborate for both beginners and connoisseurs.  The espresso blend varies according to availability – my soy latte was a smooth Toraja/Mandailing shot with pleasant earthiness, but served in a cup rather than glass. Thank the holy Shiva they have unsweetened soya milk.  If you like your coffee cold, they do a range of thick, frappe fusions with blends like "dark choco rum latte" and "orange honey kiss". 

For purists that don’t sully their caffeine with milk, there is the option of heart stopping, black, single origin brews prepared with a syphon, plunger, drip filter or wooden neck. The syphon or vacuum pot technique was invented in Berlin in the 1830's, and it is prized for creating a clean, pristine brew using hydrostatic pressure. It requires a deft hand on the gas burner and one on the thermometer, while watching the stopwatch for a precise five minute extraction. It is the most advanced barista technique on display and recommended for the light body Toraja bean. 

The action revolves around an open central service island, with one side devoted to milk based goodness and the other the caffeine laboratory. A small army of staff (curiously all from Java) fuss about inside the stainless steel quarter, with the underlings watching and learning the craft of a perfectly timed dripper or espresso crema from the senior baristas.  A cleverly placed sky light beams sunshine over the work station, and watching the action from the sidelines is fine entertainment. With the number of staff, a uniform would visually unite the team and give the operation a slicker vibe. 

The fit out is warehouse industrial with not a frill or flower in sight. Rough sawn timber, concrete and steel throughout, with ingenious use of 44-gallon drums for tables, sinks and display. Graphic potraits and stencilled font decorate the concrete walls, and green beans are on display in open sacks, awaiting their turn in the Toper roaster that takes pride of place in the window. If your vision of Bali is bamboo blinds, nasi goreng and rice padi views, don't come here (in fact get out of Seminyak all together); Anomali is a contemporary cafe that wouldn't look out of place in a hip corner of Melbourne.   

There are a variety of seating options inside including a high bench with stools, communal tables, and the grandstand, where, for two or more people, a demonstration and free cupping can be arranged to taste the full range. The undercover deck area at the front is subject to street noise, smokers and heat, making it a less attractive option.  

With the focus on coffee, I personally wouldn’t come for the food, however my table neighbour claimed it was the best steak sandwich he’d ever had.  Plastic wrapped banana bread and a single piece of cake looked very lonely and unappetising in the fridge display, and with it standing front and centre, it requires more attention. The menu is heavily swayed to the demise of animals with a side serving of chips; safe bistro food for the masses that doesn’t push any creative boundaries. The idea of foie gras on toast disgusts me, but hooray for self- service water in a jug (yes, you can drink it).

Anomali adds another dimension to the already impressive Seminyak coffee scene (and is next door to one of my favourite breakfast joints, The Tuckshop) and they are opening a cafe in Ubud in early October that will raise the coffee bar in the hills. Count me in as a groupie. 

Beans available : 
Sumatra Mandailing : high body, tobacco
Aceh Gayo Organic : high bod,y earthy
Papua Wamena : medium body, fruity
Flores Bajawa : medium body, citrus
Toraja : light body, chocolate and caramel
Bali Kintamani : light body, nutty and orange
Java Estate : light body, chocolate and herbs
Luwak : cat body

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