The word café can stretch to a broad spectrum of types, which is certainly true in Ubud. Katie Truman picks her favourite more-than-just-a-café stand-outs in this increasingly trending hotspot.
An Ubud perennial favourite,
offers far more than its name may suggest. Pioneering KAFE is a magnate for the health-nut traveller, yogi, alternative life-styler, or those that simply like fresh wholesome fare, and similar to the owner-founders (same as Yoga Barn and BaliSpirit.com), strongly committed to environmental and sustainable practices.
The groovy, two-storey premises – crafted, naturally, from recycled timbers and materials– is homey yet hippie-chic; KAFE’s living room-style interiors invariably jam-packed with an eclectic bunch, from raw foodists to closet carnivores, flocking here for truly delicious and globally diverse vegetarian, vegan, raw and non-vegetarian options. Wherever possible, local fresh produce is chemical-free, organic and sustainably farmed, perfect for crispy salads, Middle-Eastern mezzes and tempe cashew nut curries, although a nod to imported ingredients covers Australian free-range beef for hamburgers and Mexican fare.
Desserts run from raw vegan ice-creams to sinful mulberry cheesecake. Some of Ubud’s finest health drinks include smoothies such as the super anti-oxidant (raw cashew, organic cacao and honey, flax oat, banana, and virgin coconut oil (eat with a spoon) and liver detox elixirs. KAFE’s breakfasts are mighty fine, so too are the coffees (nut milks optional). Flop down on squashy sofas, or the minuscule balcony balanced over Hanoman Street, wherever, KAFE induces all-day lingering, especially post-yoga.
Much as Ubud is lovely, escape from its urban jungle into a genuine jungle. More specifically, a quick drive east of downtown Ubud to boutique Maya Ubud Resort and its blissful setting of luscious rainforest in a secluded river valley. At the resort’s fringes, take the lift down through the treetops and walk along timbered walkways to the award-winning Spa at Maya, where rustic-style spa pavilions come perched on riverbanks. Here you’ll find the adjoining . . .
44B Jalan Hanoman, Ubud
tel: +62 (0) 361 780 3802
Daily 8am to 11pm
. . . exactly that, a slender timber-n’-thatch cafe elevated above Petanu River, partially engulfed by jungle foliage. Open to the elements, with marvellous river views, expect rainforest goings-ons, natural breezes and gushing river sounds. Quite the leafy encounter, and not just the rainforest variety: mirroring the spa and surrounds, slow food movement devotee, River Cafe, offers light, wholesome dishes (including gluten-free, spa cuisine, vegetarian and vegan choices) using fresh, organic and seasonal produce and healthier alternatives (such as natural sugars, quinoa and more). This is best encapsulated in the signature Conscious Cuisine menu, with shockingly healthy options covering ricotta and green pea ‘Gnudi’ with wild mushroom ragu, guilt-free, healthy mini desserts, like heavenly vegan chocolate mousse and cold press living juices. The “Riverside Favourites” selection keeps it balanced with house-made pizzas and classic ploughman’s, plus there’s a decadent selection of wines, cocktails and coffees, organic, naturally. River Cafe dangles above an infinity-edge rock pool, which diners can fully utilize after meals. Why not indulge and stay the day: spa, pool, lunch, pool, drinks. Sorted.
Okay, enough of the green stuff; sometimes we just crave the hard stuff. For me, cafes simply equate to great coffee, and one of Ubud’s finest spots for a caffeine fix is . . .
Maya Ubud Resort & Spa
Jalan Gunung Sari, Peliatan Ubud
tel: +62 (0) 361 977 888
Daily 10am to 8pm
Seniman Coffee Studio
. . . a quirky gem emitting a cool vibe, attracting hipsters and interesting types, with DJ curated playlist sounds and rocking chairs. But Seniman – a leading Southeast Asian specialty coffee brand – know their (fair trade) beans better than most, without the pretentiousness, and with a justifiable local following. A mad selection of specialty grade, single-origin beans originate from across Indonesia, South and Central America and Africa (besides archipelago “special crops”), while lab-style brewing equipment and methodology covers cold press manual brew bar and espresso craft bar (with double ristrettos), whipping-up anything from mega strength cold drip and Taiwanese syphon to piccolos and fluffy cappuccinos.
Confused? Ask the super-helpful barista staff for bean-method matching suggestions. All served in artsy recycled glassware, presented on a platter with small pancake and a glass of water. An all-day food menu features dishes with innovative Indo twists, or classics like brownies. Everything within is all designed and produced by the Seniman team, including coffee accessories on sale. Nip across the street to their dedicated in-house roastery and totally out-there, Cold Brew Bar; here, a 12 to 20-hour cold-brewing process (no hot water folks) results in a robust coffee concentrate for drinking neat, mixed into drinks or diluted. Try the cold brew nitro – draught coffee to you!
Seniman Coffee Studio
5 Jalan Sriwedari, Ubud
tel: +62 (0)812 3607 6640
Daily 8am to 7pm