“Who the hell gives coffee made of cat poo as a gift! Disgusting!” I looked at the beautiful packet of Kopi Luwak that a friend had got for us from her travels to Bali, a couple of years ago. Hidden behind other kitchen jars, it stayed there for a few months till I finally chucked it away. “Oh please! I’m never going to have that shit.” was my last thought.
Kopi Luwak or Civet Coffee is the world’s most expensive coffee. A regular cup of coffee can cost anywhere between $35 – $100. What makes it a speciality is the different taste and the uncommon production methods. It is produced from the coffee beans which have been digested and excreted in the wild by the Luwaks or the civet cat. This is why Kopi Luwak is also called cat poop coffee or civet cat coffee. The faeces of the civet are collected, cleaned, roasted, ground and finally sold as Kopi Luwak.
Eddie, our friend and guide in this holiday to Bali, was flabbergasted when he heard I had thrown the world’s rarest coffee away. Within minutes a tour to Satria Coffee Plantations in Ubud was inserted in the itinerary. He wanted me to understand the process and relish a cup of Luwak Coffee.
The Kopi Luwak Process
Wild civets pick and choose the choicest coffee cherries to eat. The coffee cherries with its pulp are easily digested but the coffee beans remain intact in its stomach. During this process of digestion, a unique fermentation occurs. It is this which gives the coffee beans its unique, complex flavour besides making it nutritious. The cats’ droppings are collected from the forest floor and washed thoroughly before drying.
Once dried, the male and female beans are sorted by hand. It’s the male beans that are less bitter and have less caffeine. After the sorting process, the beans are roasted for about an hour and then finely ground.
Satria Plantation, Ubud – A Coffee Experience
The beautiful path amidst the plantations takes one to a well-planned tour of the coffee making process. Caged civets sleep and samples of their faeces lie in jars. The coffee beans at different stages are displayed in cane bowls. As we go from one shed to another a staff member explains the different stages of coffee making. For a memorabilia, one even gets an opportunity to get their photos clicked with the lady who sits roasting coffee.
Once the tour ends samples of different kinds of delicious teas are served complimentary. Aromatic and flavourful teas such as Saffron, Rice tea, hot cocoa, mangosteen, Moccacino, Coconut Coffee, ginseng are served. They offer Balinese and Luwak Coffee on their menu. I knew from Eddie’s smile that he was waiting for me to have the first sip of Luwak Coffee. With a soft aroma, the Luwak Coffee is less bitter compared to other coffees. A coarse grind brewing in hot water, it tasted earthy. Honestly, I have enjoyed a good Arabica with its fruit and sugar tones just as much.
We sat and enjoyed the lush greenery and the peaceful surroundings. The Satria shop in the restaurant sells all the teas and coffees. At the entrance, a civet lies lazily. He’s the show stopper. Tourists stop to click pictures and hold him for pictures. Every few minutes the nocturnal animal is woken from his sleep to be placed on someone’s head or shoulder. As I watched from a distance, a train of thoughts zoomed in my mind. Aren’t we humans a selfish lot? For years, the wild Luwaks were controlled for damaging the crops. As the coffee has gained popularity worldwide and its faeces much sought after, the Luwaks are now nurtured, caged and fed unhealthy diets. Away from their natural habitat, these nocturnal animals entertain tourists and look distressed. Is it all worth for a cup of coffee? In my opinion- Let’s cut the crap. Do you agree?